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How can innovative architectural and design solutions, as well as research and manufacturing – such as bio-based materials – and innovations inspired by nature, act as pacesetters in solving topical global problems? Future pathfinders for bio-based design, innovative materials, and design solutions for a circular economy were the main points of focus in the 9th International Alvar Aalto Design Seminar – BIOSYMBIOSIS on 24.-25.5.2022.

The two-day, hybrid format BIOSYMBIOSIS design seminar brought to the discussion top Finnish and international names in bio-based design, some of them presenting their work for the very first time in Finland. The language of the seminar was English. Tuesday 24th May 2022 was dedicated to the theme “Pathfinders for the Sustainable Future: Nature-Based Design Thinking, Research and Problem-Solving”. Esteemed biodesign expert, curator and author William Myers (Museum of 21st Century Design, M21D, including Biodesign [MoMA, 2018]) and New Heroes and Biobased Creations director Lucas De Man opened the topical discussion on Biodesign.

Pathfinders of Biomimicry and Geodesign

An expert in regenerative design and biomimicry, founder of Exploration Architecture, architect Michael Pawlyn (the Eden Project, Sahara Forest Project, Biomimetic Office Building) introduced the principles of biomimicry in the built environment. Other current name in design, the Italian Simone Farresin from Studio Formafantasma, opened the discussion on the future prospects of geodesign research. Architect Henna Helander, President of Finnish Association of Architects, SAFA and CEO of the Paimio Sanatorium Foundation, interior designer Anna Tiula from Helsinki Interiors, and Kari-Otso Nevaluoma, editor-in-chief of Avotakka magazine discussed on biophilic design as arising from the connections with nature.

From biodesign research to regenerative design

The morning session of the second day, 25th May, started with the theme “Smart Components of Tomorrow: Bio-based materials and Innovations”, focusing on material-based solutions in biodesign. Designer Sofia Pia Belenky from the Space Caviar design office in Milan and Daniel Grushkin, director of the Biodesign Challenge competition (USA) opened the discussion on current phenomena. Professor Pirjo Kääriäinen presented recent ChemArts material research at Aalto University. Designers Irene Purasachit (Aalto University) and Manuel Arias Barrantes (VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland) revealed some of their inspiring experiments with biomaterials. The City of Jyväskylä’s Circwaste-EU project for the circular economy, not only examines the reuse of materials but also utilizes local design expertise. The afternoon session and third theme “Intelligent Solutions for Today: Innovative Sustainable Production for the Circular Economy” highlighted current bio-innovative companies such as Naava Group, Solar Foods, Sulapac, Spinnova and Betolar. We learned also about MetsäGroup’s and Fortum’s ExpandFibre-Ecosystem project, where wood-waste-based materials are directed to the global markets. Outi Suomi, Head of Bio and Circular Finland Programme from Business Finland, opened the afternoon which ended to the final discussion lead by Tommi Lindh, CEO of Alvar Aalto Foundation.

The 9th International Alvar Aalto Design Seminar – BIOSYMBIOSIS was, exceptionally this time, an admission-free virtual seminar open to everyone. The live event was broadcast globally from the Main Building of the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. The seminar brought together the global design and architecture community, professionals, researchers, students – and anyone interested in innovative, solution-oriented design and research.

Missed the event? You can still register free and see the recordings. If you register now for the first time, you get the link and instructions to your email.
Register and enrol here

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Series of international Alvar Aalto events

The Alvar Aalto Design Seminar, held every three years in Jyväskylä since 1995, is an internationally acclaimed design event that highlights top research and experts in the field. The design seminar, as well as the Alvar Aalto Symposium and Alvar Aalto Researcher’s Network Seminar, which take place every third year, is organised by the Alvar Aalto Foundation/Alvar Aalto Academy together with the City of Jyväskylä and other event partners. The 2022 event partners are, among others, Aalto University, Artek, Avotakka, Business Finland, Cumulus Association, Design Helsinki & Clerkenwell Design Week (Media 10), Design Museum Helsinki, Fiskars Village Art & Design Biennale and Paimio Sanatorium Foundation. The graphic design of the event is by artist and graphic designer Aimo Katajamäki.

For further information, contact:

Aila Svenskberg, Design Seminar Producer, Communications
Alvar Aalto Foundation
+358 40 659 1930

Nina Heikkonen, Programme Manager
Alvar Aalto Foundation
+358 44 500 1257