Book Talks — Dialogues on Design and Society

Interested in the complex relationship between design and society? Curious about the hot topics in design research today? Welcome to Design Research Book Talks, a series of dialogues with leading design researchers from Aalto University’s Department of Design.


  • Sep 11, Mon 16:00-18:00
  • Sep 13, Wed 16:00-18:00
  • Sep 14, Thu 16:00-18:00

Where: Helsinki Design Museum, Korkeavuorenkatu 23

Free admission. All the Book Talks are free of charge and will be held in English.

Curator and moderator: Kaisu Savola

Book Talks gathers five recently published books addressing topical themes such as active citizenship, design and ethics, consumerism, children’s rights, feminism, technological development, and many more. Each Book Talk consists of short presentations of the books, followed by a moderated discussion and an audience Q&A in an inspiring and intimate round-table format. Come and join the discussion!

  • Monday, 11 September, 4-6 pm

Ramia Mazé and Meike Schalk: Feminist perspectives on design

  • Wednesday, 13 September, 4-6 pm

Sampsa Hyysalo, Cindy Kohtala and Eeva Berglund: Active citizens and consumers

  • Thursday, 14 September, 4-6 pm

Annamari Vänskä and Turkka Keinonen: Design and ethics

You can get to know the books beforehand at the Aalto Learning Centre in Otaniemi, more info here:

About the books and authors

Feminist Futures of Spatial Practice: Materialisms, activisms, dialogues, pedagogies, projections, edited by Meike Schalk, Thérèse Kristiansson and Ramia Mazé, Berlin: Spurbuchverlag, 2017.

Architecture and the arts have long been at the forefront of socio-spatial struggles, in which equality, access, representation and expression are at stake in our cities, communities and everyday lives. The book Feminist Futures of Spatial Practice traces practical tools and theoretical dimensions, as well as temporalities, emergence, histories, events, durations – and futures – of feminist practices. Ramia Mazé is Professor of New Frontiers in Design at Aalto University. Meike Schalk is Associate Professor in Urban Design and Urban Theory, and Docent in Architecture at KTH School of Architecture and the Built Environment in Sweden.

The New Production of Users: Changing innovation collectives and involvement strategies, by Sampsa Hyysalo, Torben Elgaard Jensen and Nelly Oudshoorn, London: Routledge, 2016.

Behind the steady stream of new products, technologies, systems and services in our modern societies, there is a prolonged and complicated battle around the role of users. How should designers get to know users’ interests and needs? The New Production of Users offers a rare overview of these issues. It traces the history of designer-user relations from the era of mass production to the present days, and analyses the challenges in the practical collaborations between designers and users. Sampsa Hyysalo is a Professor and Head of Research in the Department of Design at Aalto University; he specializes in co-design and user involvement in innovation.

Changing Helsinki? 11 views on a city unfolding, edited by Eeva Berglund and Cindy Kohtala, Helsinki: Nemo, 2015.

Changing Helsinki? is written by professionals who love the city. Each writer has chosen an element of the city that has inspired delight, disgust, sorrow or enthusiasm. The book looks not only at the pasts of the Finnish capital but at what its future might be. What might the authorities learn from the residents who have occupied buildings, set up meeting places and worked as volunteers to protect our cherished built heritage? Eeva Berglund is Adjunct Professor at Aalto University and an anthropologist specializing in sustainability politics. Cindy Kohtala is a post-doc researcher at Aalto focusing on peer-to-peer innovation and design activism.

Fashionable Childhood: Children in advertising, by Annamari Vänskä, London: Bloomsbury, 2017.

Fashionable Childhood is the first book to critically examine representations of children and childhood through fashion media. Focusing on themes such as innocence, sexuality, class and gender, this book provides a detailed and fascinating overview of the topic over the last 40 years with case studies of advertising campaigns from international fashion brands. Annamari Vänskä is Adjunct Professor at Aalto University and a prominent art historian and curator.

Designers, Users and Justice, by Turkka Keinonen, London: Bloomsbury, 2017.

Designers, Users and Justice unfolds a series of conversations, in which the scholar and the designer address the concepts and practice of user-centered design, examining whether a ‘just method’ necessarily leads to a just design. In addition, the book considers different models for understanding user experience and socially productive design, including the capability approach and utilitarianism, and ponders how an ethical framework for evaluating design might be developed. Turkka Keinonen is a professor and head of the Department of Design at Aalto University with a background in industrial design and usability.

Kaisu Savola is a design historian and doctoral candidate at Aalto University. Her research focuses on the ways in which design has been imagined and used as a tool in creating a more sustainable and socially just world. Her doctoral dissertation is about social and moral values in Finnish design education in the past 50 years.