Anssi Tuulenmaki, Research Manager at the future Aalto University's first project, the Design Factory, offered some of us a tour of the creative space being made available to a variety of designers, students, start ups, researchers and even corporate representatives. To be formally launched in the very near future, the space was certainly inspiring in the way d.school spaces, design studios and other such places where creativity is meant to thrive usually are. Some things stood out however - bunk beds in every lecture hall (?), 'always on' videoconference screens with schools such as the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur and the main hall where a tractor can be driven in. Yes, this space used to be a former wood research lab at the Helsinki University of Technology, a stone's throw from Nokia HQ in Espoo, Finland.
What is Aalto University? And what is the thinking behind the concept of the Design Factory? These questions answered after the jump.
Core77's Mark Vanderbeeken had interviewed the Rector of Helsinki School of Art and Design on this subject back in February of this year. Thoughts on the Design Factory in Rector Sotamaa's words,
One of the themes will definitively be innovation research and innovation education. We are in a middle of a paradigm shift in innovation thinking and management and we want to be a leader in that area. What that will mean in practice is still on the drawing board. Another theme will be product development. We have a project called â€˜Design Factoryâ€™, which will be an interactive learning environment with extensive technical facilities to support product development. It will contain rapid prototyping facilities and other kinds of machinery in order to make real things. It will be a very practice based learning process. It is our experience that this is the best way to bring people together, to build a learning process, to test ideas and to demonstrate them. You have to demonstrate your ideas or you will die off.
The Design Factory would also involve corporate R&D groups, and perhaps also foreign universities and start-up companies. The Design Factory will not just be an integrated environment of the three original universities, but would also involve companies that want to collaborate with us.
Dr. Simona Rocchi, Senior Director, Design for Sustainability, Philips Design and Anssi Tuulenmaki, Research Manager, Design Factory