Engage! Seminar: If it is possible to re-invent the wheel it is possible to re-invent design!

The Engage! Seminar 28.6. at the Rovaniemi City Hall opened the Arctic Circles Art & Design School with inspiring presentations on the themes of the upcoming weeks: Sustainability, Service Design and Applied Arts.  Peter Stebbing, Simo Rontti, Svetlana Usenyuk, Glen Coutts and Michael Hardt as such great speakers led the Arctic Circles participants straight to the right track. Now we're all orientated ourselves with the themes of the Arctic Circles!  

One topic that rose from many lectures was the responsibility of a designer or an artist. How do we use the knowledge, materials and cultural heritage in a sustainable way? What will the work of future artistst and designers be like?

As one of the extreme areas of the world the arctic can be seen as a laboratory of sustainable art and design, as Dean Timo Jokela reminded in his opening words. The delicate nature, long distances and socio-cultural changes offer challenges for both art and design.

Service Design, introduced by lecturer Simo Rontti, is one of the areas that can be used to tackle the arctic challenges. By taking the customer perspective services can enable for example the healthcare services for remote ares. Many opportunities can be also seen in the methods of applied arts introduced to us by Prof. Glen Coutts. Applied art is used by many artists around the world to engage with people and places. Both speakers concluded that there are great similarities in the practices and aims of service design and applied art as they both take along the people – inhabitants, customers, audiences, ect.

Co-creation was also part of PhD Svetlana Usenyuks presentation that proved that it is possible to re-invent the wheel! In extreme areas the people who are faced with the real surroundings every day are the best in creating solutions suitable for the conditions. One example was the wheel that works in the soft and marshy terrains. Usenyuk also reminded us that in extreme conditions the materials and tools can and should be usable in many ways and easy to repair.

Learning form the native cultures was also presented by Prof. Michael B. Hardt in his lecture on Arctic Sustainable design. Hardt emphasized  that instead of thinking about lifecycles of a product we should be concentrating on what is taken from nature and then given back. Hardt even claimed that design as a profession was a failed launch and should be now re-launced. As design as a profession has been about escalating growth, selling more, it should be now concentrating on creating flourishing instead of growth.

But people want new things all the time also in the arctic areas. Professor Peter Stebbing walked us through basics visual grammar, how we have learned, among other things, to use artifacts as communication to our peers and outsiders. As symbols of belonging and status new clothing and gadgets appeal to us on many levels. As Stebbing reminded us the artistst and designers are borrowing goods from the world and so in key position of their responsible use.

Arctic has always fascinated explorers and as modern explorers the artists and designers have many things to discover in the Arctic. The Engage! Seminar also included Rovaniemi Experience where the participants got to find treasures around the Rovaniemi City Hall. 

Watch the videos of the Engage! seminar and the Rovaniemi Experience.

In the evening Pilke Science Centre arranged a welcome party for the Arctic Circles participants. The visit in Pilke was also a good chance for Service team to chart user experiences in the matter of first impressions. They'll need this data for upcoming service design challenges - half of the service team works in co-operation with Pilke on next week when it's time for the Field Cases.

Spending time together in Pilke was an opportunity to make the acquaintance of the international group of Arctic Circles. People found the ones with whom they are going to brainstorm, sketch, find out solutions and present their visions. 

Kuvat: Anna-Mari Nukarinen

The exploration continues as Arctic Circles Summer School takes on the topic of Santa’s Hometown -  we'll see the results in Rovaniemi Visio Forum. You are welcome to see and comment on the results to Sampokeskus Shopping Center 1.-7.6. The groups are presenting their works on Friday 1.6 11-14.

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