At the time of big changes in designer profession globally, the Nordic Forum for Design History Studies conference 2016 turns to examine design education. The conference aims to map the history of design education in the Nordic countries and to survey what is the status of research in this area today. The conference will reflect critically on how the history of professional education is linked to the writing of Nordic design histories and what are the relevant methods of research here.

Nordic design is often presented as a uniform and homogenous phenomenon. What is common and shared, then, when one looks at Nordic design from the perspective of education; is there a special "Nordic design education method"? What are the similarities and differences of educational programmes? Can one talk about regionalism or are national accents or specialities offered by individual schools more significant?

The conference examines interaction within the Nordic region and in the international framework. What was the relation to the German Bauhaus and other 20th century progressive design schools in Europe and in the USA? What kind of connections were there to design schools of the Baltic countries during Soviet era and later. And how is it now: what is the status of education in national design policies of the Nordic countries?

We welcome abstracts for 20 minutes conference papers from scholars from a diverse range of disciplines on the theme of design education. Topics that may be considered include, but are not limited to:

  • Methods of research in design education
  • Locality / nationality as context of design education
  • Interaction and collaboration between Nordic actors of design education
  • Bauhaus and other "foreign" influences in Nordic design education
  • Links to design schools in the region of the former Soviet Union
  • Professionals coming outside of design education
  • Charateristics of contemporary design education in the Nordic countries
  • Design policies and design education in the Nordic countries
  • Turning points in design education
  • Continuum and ruptures in the design curriculum
  • Role of history in design education

Please send an abstract (up to 250 words), including a short biography (up to 50 words) to pekka.korvenmaa[at]

Confirmed Keynote Speaker: 

  • Kjetil Fallan, Professor in Design History, University of Oslo, Norway

Confirmed Panelists:

  • Kerstin Wickman, Professor Emerita, Sweden
  • Christina Zetterlund, Professor, Konstfack, Sweden
  • Anders V. Munch, Professor, The University of Southern Denmark
  • Harpa Thorsdottir, Museum director, Museum of Design and Applied Art, Iceland
  • Ida Kamilla Lie, PhD student, University of Oslo, Norway
  • Kärt Summatavet, PhD, researcher, Tallin, Estonia


  • 1. The conference will consist of one keynote lecture, 1–2 sessions of selected papers and a panel of invited speakers on the topic of Design education in the Nordic Countries. The conference takes place at the Arabia campus of Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture (Hämeentie 135 C). The conference times are
    - Friday 23th from 1 PM to 5 PM
    - Saturday 24th from 10 AM to 5 PM.

    Additional programme includes
    - Visit to the exhibition Eero Aarnio at Design Museum Helsinki on Saturday 24th from 5 PM to 7.30 PM
    - A conference excursion on Sunday 25th from 10 AM to 3 PM, TBC.

    Conference fee 30 euros per person + extra fee for excursion, TBC.
    Registration in advance by 28 August, 2016 to leena.svinhufvud[at]

    The conference in Helsinki is organized by Aalto University and Design Museum Helsinki in collaboration with the Nordic Forum for Design History Studies network (Nordiskt Forum för Designhistoria). The Nordic Forum is a seminar that is organized every second year in the five Nordic countries alternately. The purpose of the activity initiated in 1983 is to enhance contact and dialogue between researchers.