Aalto Creative Sustainability (CS) master’s programme offers opportunities for students from all programmes at Aalto University to learn sustainable ways of designing and help engage organisations outside CS programme and Aalto University in sustainability discourse. Finlandia Trophy is one such case, where Aalto University students some first steps for organizing a sports event in more sustainable ways together with Finlandia Trophy Espoo.
Students from Aalto were to create the new visual identity for Finlandia Trophy Espoo, an annual international figure skating competition with top-level skaters competing from all over the world. This project was a very exciting possibility for a group of students from different backgrounds to come together and create a new image and devise suggestions to the organisation towards sustainable sport event for an event that would be realised and broadcasted worldwide. Each student brought a wealth of experience with them to the project and each had their own unique design perspective.
With the theme of water provided by the Finnish Figure Skating Association and Espoo city, the students began by visiting Barona Areena, the location for the event and learning more about the needs of the client. The students then started on exploration of ideas through a photographic journey to Espoo, by which many ideas and points for design intervention arose. As the students’ work progress, the visual concept of the ice floating on the sea became obvious choice for the team.
Using those photographs we found ideas for forms and patterns and we started to pick out colours and forms that fascinated us most. The forms of water became the focus and finally we decided to choose floating ice as our main design theme.
The students chose the forms of broken ice floating on the water and created a pattern that would give the Finlandia Trophy competition a clear identity. For their colour palette they took inspiration from their photos of Espoo using vivid blues of water and strong forest colours.
The most exciting challenge in this project for the team was the scope of the design. The new design had to work at many levels for different groups of people and the outcome needed to be visually striking but also function on so many practical levels for many different groups of people who had different needs. Not only did the team design a new visual identity for the competition and a functional interior for the arena, they also paid close attention and maximised to the experience of the athletes, the audience in the arena, and the larger audience via television worldwide expanding the scope of the project. In 2012, only the main front of house areas were realised but the goal is to implement the new design for backstage areas gradually.
Sustainability principles were taken into account in the design and realisation processes, which the Finnish Figure Skating Association was very much in favour of. As we all now recognise the need for environmental awareness, it is very positive to see a large sporting event like this making a serious effort to be sustainable. We hope as the competition grows over the next years that it will be a great example for others.
By careful consideration of the materials we suggested, we adopted sustainability issues into our design. We also planned and made suggestions for the growth and future of Finlandia Trophy’s development as a sustainable international competition.
The new visual identity received a great reception on all levels from the skaters to the staff and volunteers and from the audience. Espoo city and the Finnish Figure Skating Association were delighted and plan to use the students’ design again in coming years. The students made an effort to share their design process by making a video about their work, and this video was shown on the screens for the public during the breaks of the skating competition. During the breaks the students also participated in a question and answer session called ‘Meet the designers’.
Tiina Teras is studying Master’s Degree Programme in Spatial Design and has previously completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from the University of Kent in the U.K.
Liinu Kivioja is completing MA studies in Landscape Architecture and has also started in the BA Programme in Interior Architecture and Furniture Design.
Evita Riikonen is studying her Master’s degree Programme in Spatial Design and has completed a BA in Interior Architecture in Lahti University of Applied Sciences Institute of Design.
Ahrum Jeon has studied for 1 year in the Master’s Degree Programme in Creative Sustainability and has completed her BA in Korea in Seoul National University in Space and Industrial design.
Sarah Bowen-Walsh was the lead teacher for this project, which was an optional course in the Master’s Degree Program in Creative Sustainability in Aalto University. Having completed her master’s degree at Aalto in Production Design, Sarah now works freelance and lectures courses also. Her most recent work has been designing the feature films ‘ Ja saapuu oikea yö’ and ‘Ella ja kaverit’.