Design Culture Now is a required course for master’s students in the Department of Design at Aalto University in Finland.

For one of their assignments, students selected a “design object” – broadly defined – to represent design culture in 2020. The results are shown in this online gallery.

The two-week intensive course explores the wider contexts of contemporary design culture. In particular, we focus on how global and local systems of meaning in design interact.

Four themes guided the course in Fall 2020:

global flows How design ideas, styles, systems, politics, methods move around the world. How certain understandings of design culture dominate or are suppressed.

2  diasporic solidarities How networks of shared belief systems or specific ways of practicing design are distributed, how they interact and share ideas, styles, processes and more. How diasporas are distributed and constituted.

3 turning points How particular moments in history or particular places are important in changing design cultures.

4 liminal spaces How ‘in-between’ spaces function and give rise to certain aesthetics or practices. How edges, peripheries, outsiders, margins relate to centres, mainstreams or orthodoxies.



The course is led by: Professor Guy Julier

Teaching team: Elise Hodson, Paola Cabrera, Brenda Vertiz, and Julia Valle-Noronha with guest appearances by Kaisu Savola

Blog design: Nathaly Pinto

Student contributors represent the following master’s programs:

  • Contemporary Design
  • Collaborative and Industrial Design
  • Creative Sustainability
  • Fashion, Clothing and Textile Design
  • International Design Business Management

Funding: Aalto Online Learning


Inspiration for this project