Pilot case

Design Culture Now – Global and Local Perspectives

Expanding the course to include voices from within and outside of Finland across design fields and cultures.
An abstract decorative pilot banner image.

Pilot leader

Guy Julier
Elise Hodson


School of Arts Design and Architecture


130 students


Aug 2020 – Jan 2021


This course is mandatory for MA students in the Department of Design. It introduces students to theories, approaches and case studies of design culture in global and local contexts. The course takes on the ‘bigger picture’ of global processes: What drives globalisation? How has it affected the ‘presentation’ and identities of localities — countries, regions, cities? Where does design take place in the networks of goods and capital? How have colonial systems of power shaped particular ideas of what design is and should be? And how might these be questioned and contested? Having looked at design in terms of more orthodox, dominant cultural understandings, the course turns to everyday or subcultural expressions of design culture. How do cultural practices that are independent of dominant forms function? What characterizes these? How do such localised activities and meanings interact with global flows of signs? How do everyday practices shape design cultures?

Pilot funding allows us to engage with speakers within and beyond Finland, and to add a diversity of perpsectives on issues relevant to design cultures around the world. Topics include, among others, design in moments of crisis, design and social innovation, decolonizing design, and fashion and race. We will record ten lectures of 15 to 30 minutes each, to be grouped under the themes of global flows, diasporic solidarities, turning points and liminal spaces. These will be paired with readings and further explored in live seminars and workshops delivered online. Additional materials are being developed to support students in academic research and writing.

Challenges addressed:

  1. More diverse speakers and international perspectives to support course theme of interactions between global and local design
  2. Increased discussion of course topics between students and teachers
  3. Skills development to support students with different levels of proficiency in academic writing and critical thinking
  4. More accessible content through course materials that can be accessed at any time
  5. More efficient course management

Platforms and tools

We are using Zoom to record the lectures, iMovie to edit and Aalto Online’s Google Drive and Panopto to store the videos. Videos and other course materials to be linked through MyCourses.

Pedagogical methods

This project is based on the flipped classroom model. Students watch lectures and read material before coming to class. Tutorial time is then structured around discussion and activities based on that material.

Involved courses

MUO-E0010 – Design Culture Now (4 ECTS)


Guy Julier
School of Art, Design and Architecture, Department of Design
Pilot leader

Elise Hodson
School of Art, Design and Architecture, Department of Design
Pilot leader

Brenda Vertiz
School of Art, Design and Architecture, Department of Design
Video production and curriculum development

Nathaly Pinto
School of Art, Design and Architecture, Department of Design
Graphic Design

Paola Cabrera
School of Art, Design and Architecture, Department of Design
Curriculum develompent


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