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Column: The dark horse of design education

First Trojan Horse summer school lands on the island of Bengtsår in August. In this column, summer school founders Tommi Vasko and Kaisa Karvinen explain why design and architecture education needs to be treated with dynamite.

We have established a new school. Last August we realised that the best way to change Finnish design culture is to create structures that have no interest what so ever in pleasing traditional, old-fashioned principles. We longed for discussion that allows various eccentric ideas about design and designership to be heard on a more equal footing.

The Trojan Horse Summer School kicks off in the middle of August and brings together 20 students of different design disciplines. In addition to students, the school will be participated by four international critically-minded mentors. The Summer school workshops are led by designer and artist Katharina Moebus, graphic designer Rasmus Svensson (PWR-studio), architect Markus Miessen, and service designer Adria Garcia i Mateu.

The school lasts ten days and offers students an opportunity to engage in multi-disciplinary discussions with actors and mentors from various fields. The purpose is to review designers’ tools and the importance of scientific argumentation and open dialogue.

Together, the mentors, organisers, and students build a village of tents on the island. One workshop lets the village simulate social phenomena while another re-designs its daily routines. After lunch, people gather to join a reading club by the campfire to discuss common themes. Observations, summaries, and insights are used to build prototypes for the final festival organised in the end of summer school.

The festival welcomes all people interested in the ideas of the summer school and the island. Its final form remains to be seen. At minimum, the entrance fee will include meals, campfire, and sauna. Students and mentors may organise lectures, performances, kayak trips, fluorescent forest disco, or something that we cannot imagine at this point.

To us organisers better design means understanding the values that define the difference between good and bad design. Through the summer school, we want to stimulate discussion about the paradigms that steer design education and design studies and to ask what better design really means and who defines it.

Various writers focus on their columns on the Helsinki Design Week’s theme 2016, “Better”

Tommi Vasko ja Kaisa Karvinen visited the island before the Summer School starts. © IDA KUKKAPURO

Kaisa Karvinen is a student of architecture from Helsinki interested in phenomena of public space.

Tommi Vasko is a graphic designer and researcher working in Amsterdam and Helsinki. His work addresses the design practices of near future and the visual phenomena that arise between new technologies and ecological thinking.

The third founder of Trojan Horse Summer School is design journalist Ida Kukkapuro.

The school is produced with the kind support of Grafia ry.

Trojan Horse Festival, 26 to 27 August, tickets 20-40 €.

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