The Contemporary Design Programme supports students to discover and advance their individual creative processes and in linking them to the problem-solving processes and methods of others. Students are working in a multifaceted learning environment that provides support for creativity, as well as critical and analytical thinking.
The Contemporary Design Programme supports students to discover and advance their individual creative processes and in linking them to the problem-solving processes and methods of others. Students are working in a multifaceted learning environment that provides support for creativity, as well as critical and analytical thinking. The program bridges research and design, and it provides students with a strong foundation in practice-based research. It educates sensitive and visionary students who have skills to propose radical solutions and responsible innovations for the future.
After graduation the students:
- have strong practical design skills for material productions and experiments
- can critically reflect and innovate on established design traditions, emerging interpretations of design and their own design practice
- display a strong artistic vision and are able to take responsibility, argument and stand behind their work as a designer
- are able to profit from emerging technologies and materials in their artistic and design practices
- understand how the field of contemporary design works internationally and how their own work is connected to broader developments in society and commercial opportunities
- have experience in exhibiting and curatorial practices in the fields of design and contemporary craft, as well as how to connect their work to external partners and sponsors
- are familiar with means to commercialize design and design-driven innovations
Language of instruction
The language of instruction in the Master’s Programme in Contemporary Design is English.
The tuition fee is €15 000 for non-EU/EEA students per academic year. More information on Scholarships and Tuition Fees page (aalto.fi).
Content of the studies
The Contemporary Design Programme enables designers to nurture an artistic mindset in a multidisciplinary environment that fuels design innovations as well as personal and business engagements. In the programme, the design is understood in a broad sense including experimental and conceptual works from the spheres of critical and speculative design, experimental design, contemporary craft and product design.
The education prepares the students to develop their own creative and experimental processes to explore and materialize ideas, concepts and final designs. Alongside their own creative work, students study in multidisciplinary teams and develop their skills to present, exhibit, produce and commercialize their design works and talent.
The education is studio-based with close connections to real life, critically merging features of hands-on material exploration and fabrication with observations of contemporary and emerging phenomena. Students tackle the phenomena through collaborative exploration in the field, material experimentation in the studio, reflective discussions and documentation with fellow students, faculty and collaborators. This approach leads the students to discover the value of research, studio experimentation and argumentation skills.
The program serves as an Academic Lab where contemporary design and a strong design heritage mix and integrate with research and technology, advanced materials and manufacturing methods and entrepreneurial mindset resulting in nontraditional and innovation-focused solutions.
Contemporary Design Programme graduates an alumni network of talents. The network supports the graduate to pursue a career as a creative entrepreneur following one’s strong artistic vision and/or as a member of a collective or start-up together with others. The graduate is prepared for work in teams and projects in collaboration with companies, organizations and the public sector. The graduate may also continue to develop one’s design excellence and research skills through doctoral studies.
Programme-specific Admission Procedure and Evaluation Criteria
Applicants meeting Aalto’s general eligibility criteria for master's studies will be evaluated and ranked according to the evaluation criteria that have been decided in advance for each study option.
The applications to the Master’s Programme in Contemporary Design (CoDe) will be evaluated based on the following criteria.
Artistic and/or design practice
|Assessed area||Demonstrations of artistic and/or design work or assignments|
Skills in the relevant area of design; Quality of the creative work including conceptual strength, visualization and communication of the concepts; Courage to explore relevant topics and engagement with materiality.
|Method of demonstrating competence||
Relevance of previous studies
|Assessed area||Content and quantity in relation to the applied study-option-specific requirements|
Completion of adequate undergraduate courses and degree
|Method of demonstrating competence||
Transcript(s) of records, degree certificate(s)
|Assessed area||Applicant’s further suitability to the study option, motivation, and commitment for studies/communication skills|
Appropriate mindset for the studies: willingness to collaborate and take risks when exploring new procedures, techniques and materialities for the future; Ability, fluency and clarity in written English
|Method of demonstrating competence||Motivation Letter|
Other areas of competence
|Assessed area||Work experience and other acquired knowledge/achievements e.g. publications, non-formal education, competitions|
|Admission requirements||Basic skills in some design field; Working experience; Art, craft and design-related activities|
|Method of demonstrating competence||Curriculum vitae, letter of references, proof of employment, publications|
|Assessed area||Applicant’s further suitability to the study option, motivation, and commitment to studies/communication skills|
Passion to both deepen and broaden the already existing knowledge; Willingness to engage in critical thinking and to find one’s own path to contribute to the field of design; Interest in the social and ecological context of design; Ability to communicate fluently in spoken English.
|Method of demonstrating competence||Interview|
The applicants will be first evaluated based on Aalto’s general eligibility requirements. Applicants meeting the general eligibility criteria for master's studies will be evaluated and ranked according to the evaluation criteria decided in advance for each study option.
The selection process for applicants who meet the general eligibility criteria comprises of two phases.
In Phase I, the applications are evaluated based on the following criteria
- Artistic and/or design practice
- Relevance of previous studies
- Other areas of competence
- Suitability/Motivation letter
Only the applicants who fulfil the requirements/are ranked highest in the preliminary evaluation will be invited to phase II in the selection process.
In Phase II, the evaluation is based on the following criteria
Part of the applicants are invited to Phase II. The invitation to Phase II will be sent to the applicants at the latest 7 days in advance. The second phase consists of a face-to-face interview, which can be conducted over Skype or telephone if necessary.
After the evaluation conducted in Phase II, the best applicants will be selected based on the joint evaluation from Phases I and II.
Study-option-specific documents requested
The documents requested from all applicants are listed on the Aalto University website (https://www.aalto.fi/en/study-at-aalto/applying-to-masters-programmes). In addition, applicants to this study option are requested to provide the following study-option-specific documents:
- Portfolio. The document should not exceed 25 pages and can be a maximum of 1.0 GB. The lack of this application document will adversely affect the evaluation of your application.
- Motivation letter. The letter should not exceed the limit of one page (Times New Roman, 12 points). The lack of this application document will adversely affect the evaluation of your application.
In the portfolio, applicants display work that shows their artistic expression and design skills. The portfolio must contain diverse samples of the applicant’s previous artistic, professional and/or scientific activity.
The portfolio can include illustrations, drawings, photographs and technical drawings. The works that are displayed in the portfolio must be catalogued, listing at least the title and/or theme, materials used, size, purpose and year of completion of each piece. The catalogue must also detail where and when the work has been exhibited, displayed or published and whether the work is based on individual or group work. The contribution of the applicant in the work should be stated in case the work has been completed in a group. The applicant’s name, address and phone number and the degree programme applied for must be indicated clearly in the portfolio.
The portfolio should be uploaded as a single PDF-file. Maximum size for the portfolio is 1.0 GB. Name the file as Portfolio-surname-firstname.pdf. If your portfolio contains password protected video links, include the password(s) in your portfolio. If a portfolio is not uploaded to the online application form by the deadline, the application will be rejected.
The intake committee will only evaluate the material displayed in the PDF-file. Links to external material, such as website, or videos will not be considered during the intake process.
In the motivation letter, the applicant should explain the reasons for applying to the Contemporary Design Programme. The letter should also indicate what are the main and particular areas of interests in the field as well as goals and expectations for the studies to be completed in the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. The applicant can describe his/her strengths and interests, as well as a vision of art and design, aspects related to work and creative goals.
The application must include the applicant’s CV with personal data, educational background, work experience, exhibitions, publications and articles, awards and grants, study trips and positions of trust.
Language of application documents
The application documents must be submitted in English.
About the School
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