Last November to December an elective University-wide Arts Studies UWAS course From idea to shelf: design for The Aalto University Shop was piloted at Aalto University. It was one of the first examples embedding design into all education – run by the Design Inside Initiative, a strategic project at Aalto University – and operated in close collaboration with the client, the Aalto University Shop.
The idea was to have students ideate and design items for the Aalto University Shop to sell, and thus have closer interaction between the shop, its selection and the students.
Intriguingly, the idea for this multidisciplinary course was invented by the students at the International Design Business Management (IDBM) master’s programme. These students first started with investigating how to get Aalto students inspired by the university and how to create items for the shop that would better represent and connect with Aalto’s education and research achievements. In that way, the students thought, Aalto University Shop would not only act as a window to Aalto University, but become an educational channel for students.
They presented the idea in the IDBM Impact Gala, where it was picked up by teachers and staff from Design Inside initiative. Through this connection, this master student project came to life. Altogether 16 students enrolled, ranging from design background to business, chemical engineering and engineering.
By working together with a design thinking mindset, using different sets of skills, backgrounds and cultures, the goal is to create a multidisciplinary environment where students would design exclusive products for the Aalto University Shop, as well as learn different skill sets from other disciplines.
The collaboration between the UWAS course and the Aalto University Shop would be annual. Different themes and product types should be discussed and chosen by teachers and the shop for each year’s course, after identifying the desired direction and feasibility of the product. For the pilot course in 2019, Aalto 1 Satellite project was chosen as the theme, and game was chosen as the product to be designed.
Game prototypes reaching the shelf
Within six weeks duration of the course, the results of the multi-diverse groups of Aalto students were rewarding. From card games to board games, radical creativity with sustainable mindset were well demonstrated during the stage of product development and in the final prototype. The game prototypes were selectively designed to resonate and represent the values of Aalto University.
‘Students and teachers were highly involved during the whole process. It is delightful to see that both students and the Aalto University Shop are very satisfied with the results and all group works are being considered to be moving forward’, says designer in residence Andrea Bandoni from Design Inside initiative.
Depending on each years’ project results, it is possible that the prototypes created during the course will be carried on into manufacturing and end up on one of the shelves in the Aalto University Shop.