What do you want to be when you grow up?

My first year in the Master studies in Aalto University is now over. The year has been full of teamwork, ideation, problem-solving, sensemaking, thinking and doing as well as emphasizing with different kind of users in different contexts.

The summery of this year:

3 joint courses with all of the design students (design and culture, design research and intro)

1 personal project where I tried to understand the connection between service design and architecture 

4 intensive design courses in the program collaborative and industrial design (designing for services, strategic co-design, design strategy and leadership, user-inspired design)

1 course from the program urban studies and planning (design for urban governance and services)

1 course from the program International design business management (Business model design)

= 69 credits, 1863 hours of work, 10 different perspectives to design 

All of these courses were interesting perspectives on what design can be and do. The theme of the year could be called “the new wave of design” referring to the book published by Design Forum Finland. The designer is not there anymore just for visual and aesthetic purposes but to solve complex problems and make sense of the change happening around us. The power of design is in the combination of proof-based analytical thinking and possibility-based abductive thinking. Some examples of the new roles of a designer: strategic designer, business designer, service designer, culture designer or design culture lead, strategic co-designer and urban agent… The list goes on.

The question that I have been asked quite many times this year is: What are you called when you graduate? What do you want to be when you grow up?

I could be strategic, service, interior, workplace, culture designer or just a designer. However, I don´t want to be put in any box, at least not yet.  The design field is under a big change that is overwhelming both for designers as well as clients. Design can be used in anything, really. The design mindset can help to make sense of all the complex problems we have today. It can help to re-think the future in a way that is new to many fields.

My expertise is in the design of a cultural change. Five years ago, I started with the design of physical spaces and environments. Today, I am moving to the design of social and cultural environments.  At the moment, I am doing a project for Aalto Startup Center where I am trying to understand, how might we implement design thinking into the culture of startup environment? In which ways design can help the development and innovation of business acceleration? I am using methods from both strategic and service design like journey maps, roadmaps and all the visual communication tools that I use in all of my work. The more visual my message is the more sense it makes to everyone. In the end, that differentiates me from the others and makes me a designer.

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