Maarit Mäkelä's project receives funding from the Academy of Finland

The study aims to find out how creativity is taught in a studio environment.
two students watching the 3D printer at work printing a figure of clay
3D clay printing in Väre studio, photo: Minerva Juolahti

Associate Professor in Practice Led Design Research Maarit Mäkelä's research project on pedagogical processes and educating creativity has received altogether 274 602 euro funding from the Academy of Finland for 2020–2024. Co-operation partner in the Materiality, maker practices and design studio pedagogy project is Pirita Seitamaa-Hakkarainen at University of Helsinki, and it is a continuation of their previous co-operation.

‘In the new project, we aim to understand how designers or artisans relate to their bodies, tools, materials and space in the studio environment’, explains Mäkelä, who has for long studied creativity.

You will study pedagogical processes and creativity in the education of design and craftsmanship professionals. Why is it important, Maarit Mäkelä?

‘In a rapidly changing society, creativity and problem-solving based design thinking play an important role. The rapid development of digital environments has provided us with new materials, tools and practices for creative work.

In the universities, studios are environments where traditional craftsmanship is combined with digital technologies. To be able to educate creative professionals, we need to deepen our understanding on how to teach creativity in a studio environment.’

What are the main findings of your previous Academy project and what does the new project bring on it?

‘In our previous research project Handling Mind: Embodiment, Creativity and Design (2013–2016), we explored design thinking as embodied knowledge, with materials, tools and social interaction as key elements. There embodied knowledge acts as a connecting anchor between mind and body.

In the new project, we want to better understand, how designers and artisans position themselves in the workspace in relation to their bodies, tools, materials, space, and other social actors.’

Can the practical benefits of your new research already be foreseen?

‘Our aim is to understand what kind of social and material factors the studio environment as a learning network is built on, and how learning takes place in this space. With a better understanding of this network, we will also be able to develop studio pedagogy to better support creative learning.’

Your research will cover four Nordic countries. Why these countries?

‘In the project, we will closely study the studio pedagogy of Aalto University and the University of Helsinki. In order to better understand the specifics of our own country, we are also studying similar teaching and teaching facilities in three other Nordic countries. We will explore what are the best practices in studio pedagogy in these four countries and what can we learn from others. We assume that Nordic pedagogical practices differ from each other, but are so close to each other that they are comparable.’

Contact information:

Associate Professor Maarit Mäkelä, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, [email protected],
tel. +358 50 3722168

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