Open lecture by Danielle Wilde

(Original advertisement by Camilla Groth in May 2013)
Next Monday 27th May 2013 at 13.30-15.30,
Aalto university, school of art, Design and Architecture
Hämeentie 135
8th floor lecture room 885
PhD Danielle Wilde will give a lecture on the topic of Embodying Neuroplastic Change. Groundbreaking neuroplasticity research demonstrates how interactive technologies can be used to leverage and increase our brain’s capacity to learn. Wilde will discuss how embodied interaction, in particular enriched engagement in artistic activities, may powerfully compliment existing techniques for stimulating neuroplastic change.
Danielle Wilde develops frameworks and structures that engage people kinesthetically and imaginatively, prompting them to reflect on the beauty of diverse ways of being, and how personal, idiosyncratic dreams and desires might help shape our technological future. Her work privileges awkwardness to democratise engagement and give value to diverse ways of moving, thinking and being.
Wilde is a recipient of the 2013-2014 Australian Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship, for outstanding talent and exceptional professional courage. At present she is a Visiting Research Fellow at RMIT School of Fashion and Textiles; a research associate of CSIRO Material Science and Engineering, Australia. Danielle holds the first Fine Arts PhD undertaken within CSIRO – Australia’s national scientific research organisation, and an MA in Interaction Design, from the Royal College of Art, London. Her aim is to shift how people think about their bodies, abilities, creativity and technology.
The event is hosted by Empirica research group, Department of Design,
For more information contact:

Design Exploration and Experimentation Course

(Original text by Camilla Groth in february 2013)

Design Exploration and Experimentation

The Design Exploration and Experimentation (DEE) course is an educational platform focusing on design students’ personal creative process and their individual way of managing its phases. It supports artistic and exploratory ways in design, and its focus is on students’ unique expression. The underlying values of the platform relate to the importance of self-understanding and awareness of personal creativity as the foundation for the capability to practice empathic and thoughtful design.

The optional DEE is a master level course (4th and 5th grade design students) arranged for a small group of design students in Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. The roots of the course are in studio-based practice and practice-led research. The course lasts 8 weeks, and its program is built around a personal project with the given theme. These artifacts will be presented in a collectively built exhibition at the end of the course, arranged this year at the Atski Gallery in Helsinki during the period 7-14 of March 2013. The freedom to choose one’s own task and outcome is supported by providing a course frame, which consists of numerous tasks as sources for inspiration, weekly process-sharing sessions, and personal tutorials. In addition, the students document the creative process and reflect on it in several ways.

“Somehow, the idea of an artistic interpretation seemed really tempting. I’ve been thinking that this is probably the only course I can do something like this so why wouldn’t I also try to develop myself in the process. I could do the whole project from the basis of self-reflection and self-development.” (Student reflection, 18 February 2013)

By ethnographic engagement, making sensitive observations, and gathering rich data during the course, we will be able to capture how students experience their personal creative process. The researchers engagement and position inside the group give us a privileged position to follow, also, the uncertainties, challenges and disappointments students face. Our objective is to develop the support-feedback-framework of the course to support each individual student in her unique way of flourishing.

Heinävesi trip

The DEE course is every year taking the participant students on to a trip to some destination that serves as a catalyst of ideation for the chosen topic of that year. Since the topic of the year 2013 is Faith, the course trip headed to Heinävesi, famous for the Valamo monastery and Lintula convent. The 13 participants of this years course consisted of Finnish and foreign students. An old wooden school building was reserved as a camp and local people catered for the food and transport during the five day visit.

Photo by Jaana Lönnros

The program at Heinävesi included a visit to the Valamo monastery and the Lintula convent as well as participating in an orthodox ceremony and meeting and talking in depth with representatives from these instaces.

Valamo monastery. Photo by Jessie Hsu

Lintula convent. Photo by Jessie Hsu

“In the Lintula convent we met a nun, and we had a short discussion about inner peace. I think I don’t have inner peace yet. But I believe that I will find it later in my life. I don’t say I don’t have inner peace at all, but something is still missing. And I think it is mostly related to my professional identity.” (Student reflection, 18 February 2013)

Along with these official visits the meeting with the locals opened an other view of religious beleif as stories of spirits and unsusual experiences were unfolding. The local food and customs such as the art of baking karjalanpiirakka, sauna bathing and even igloo making made up an unforgettable experience for many participants, perhaps especially the foreign students. The igloo was even used as a camp as some students slept over night inside it.

Igloo building. Photo by Gabriela Rubini

Finishing the igloo. Photo by Lisa Gerkens

Avanto. Photo by Jessie Hsu

“When taking pictures alone in the dark, fear and loneliness almost killed me.” (Student reflection, 4 February 2013)

“Damn, that I enjoyed having these daily walks through beautiful clean snowy landscape under the bright stars. (…) It has to be said that the Finnish nature can be so extremely mesmerizing, you almost forget the power it has when you live in big cities where you can find only few trees as a some kind of visual backdrop for parks. Something interesting could spin-off from this subject…” (Student reflection, 4 February 2013)