This is what a more sustainable world looks like: Wood-based glitter, electric-powered boats and printed solar cells

The Aalto University Designs for a Cooler Planet event will showcase inspiring future scenarios during this coming September. The exhibition aims to show that collaboration between designers, researchers and stakeholders will lead to better solutions for people and the environment.
Designs for a Cooler Planet 2020: Race for the Future
We are in a race against time: The UN Sustainable Development Goals must be achieved within ten years so we need to start collaborating to meet this target. Visual design: Milja Komulainen & Olga Elliot

Energy consumption is projected to increase by 50% by 2040, which is a huge challenge in the fight against climate change. The global economy uses 92.8 billion tonnes of minerals, fossil fuels, metals and biomass annually and only 9% of this goes back into circulation, which threatens the climate, the adequacy of resources and opportunities for sustainable growth. As well as this, rapid urbanisation affects ecosystems and contributes to the acceleration of extinction of species.

Turning the trend towards sustainability requires determined, creative solutions in all areas of society, as well as efficient teamwork.

The event, which opens on 2 September, presents four exhibitions related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and it’s part of the Helsinki Design Week programme. The themes of the exhibits are future energy solutions, the circular economy and new opportunities for biomaterials, vibrant environments and conscious consumption.

More than 30 different experimental research and design projects will be available to view at Otaniemi and on the Aalto website. These projects show that smart choices for our planet can also bring well-being, a strong sense of community and an appreciation for beauty in life.

Designs for a Cooler Planet — Helsinki Design Week 2020

Along with the other projects, the following prototypes that are the result of a cross-sectoral cooperation will also be presented:

Wood-based structural shimmering wood colour has no colour pigments. Photo: Valeria Azovskaya
Photo: Valeria Azovskaya

Wood-based glitter

The secret of the wonderfully shiny surface is nature's own miracle ingredient, nanocellulose. Nanocellulose can be produced not only from wood but also from bacteria and agricultural waste. The colour has no colour pigments at all but is created from light-reflecting nanostructures, just like nature's brightest colours in peacock feathers or butterfly wings.

Pinta 1 -työssä veneen sisätilaratkaisut ovat avarat ja vaaleat.
Modelling: Niilo Kämäräinen and Hanna Hartikainen

Electric powered boat

The boat, which makes no noise in the water, is powered by solar cells. It has been designed to function also in rental use or as a city boat, so that many people have the opportunity to enjoy being on the water in the future, while saving nature and materials.

Uusi teknologia mahdollistaa aurinkokennojen painamisen esimerkiksi lasiin. Kuva: Matti Ahlgren
Photo: Matti Ahlgren

Printable, patterned solar cells

Affordable solar cells can be produced with an inkjet printer and silk printing, with the possibility of also adding patterns. With this new technology, buildings would no longer need separate solar panel components.

kuvassa kahdet kädet levittävät läpinäkyvää limaa punaista taustaa vasten
Photo: Eeva Suorlahti

Chemarts cookbook - Using natural materials in the home kitchen and laboratory

From a bio-adhesive to reed panels and cellulose foam, a unique work created in collaboration with designers and biomaterial researchers shows what natural materials can do. Some of the recipes can be tested at home, while others are better suited for school and university laboratories. 

A more detailed programme will be announced in mid-August.

Further information:

  • Exhibitions and events: Enni Äijälä, Designer in Residence, +358 50 359 4810, [email protected]
  • Communications: Tiina Toivola, Senior Advisor, Partnership communications, +358 50 326 0300, [email protected].

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Shimmering Wood-based Structural Colour by Noora Yau. Photo Eeva Suorlahti

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