Please note! Course description is confirmed for two academic years, which means that in general, e.g. Learning outcomes, assessment methods and key content stays unchanged. However, via course syllabus, it is possible to specify or change the course execution in each realization of the course, such as how the contact sessions are organized, assessment methods weighted or materials used.


After succesful completion of the course student is able to 1 recognise and discuss connections between changes in design practices and cultural and societal changes 2 review and reflect history of design practices vis-a-vis sustainability development 3 recognise and discuss diffusion of design and innovations

Credits: 3

Schedule: 13.09.2021 - 31.10.2021

Teacher in charge (valid for whole curriculum period):

Teacher in charge (applies in this implementation): Heidi Paavilainen

Contact information for the course (applies in this implementation):

University lecturer Heidi Paavilainen (
Heidi has long academic career in the Department, starting with BA and MA in Textile design and PhD in Industrial design. Already as a MA student she became interested in how products, ideas and phenomena spread and become mainstream. Her PhD research was about how ideas and products enter home and become part of everyday experience. These days the majority of her time goes to teaching, tutoring and educational leadership but what she can spare, she spends on research about "domestication of recycled stuff", that is, through which processes and practices people appropriate secondhand products and materials, thus aiming to contribute to the general field of circular economy with a user point of view. Heidi speaks Finnish and English.

CEFR level (valid for whole curriculum period):

Language of instruction and studies (applies in this implementation):

Teaching language: English. Languages of study attainment: English


  • valid for whole curriculum period:

    The course provides an introduction to the intertwined histories of innovations and design, by discussing how these two fields have influenced each other. Common reference point in the discussion is to see how innovations and design practices have contributed, for better or worse, to the sustainability of the economy, people and the planet. Working methods: lectures, excursions, assignments.

    Alternatively, student can study independently and take an electric exam in specified times. Exam times are published in MyCourses course front page.

  • applies in this implementation

    Course does not have contact teaching, or zoom sessions. Instead, there is a series of video recordings, accompanied with small weekly assignments in MyCourses. Each week's content is published on Friday morning at latest. In Department of Design model timetables Period 1 Fridays are reserved for this course. Student can ask permission to do the course at some other time than period 1. Permission is given if student can show that their study plan is full for period 1, and they include realistic study plan in which period they will do the course.

    Content's emphasis is on the large scale developments rather than on specific styles and designers. The trajectories drawn in this course are: evolution of design professions and design's role in the society; what is designed, to whom; the means of production and distribution; consumption and use of design. Underlying these trajectories is discussion on the environmental and human consequences of past innovations and design practices and some ideas about future. Through looking closer at these evolutions it is possible to get a general understanding of design's and innovation's interplay in our recent history, and the consequences of the interplay. To the students majoring in fashion or design the course is an opportunity to contextualise one's professional identity and develop it further.

    Students will develop their own thinking and argumentation through "designerly" assignments: participants are asked to articulate their findings and notions through for example writing, visualisations, mood boards, haikus and comics. The assignments are instructed with step-by-step guidance.

    By and large this course is individual work but teacher is available on all/most Fridays for zoom tutoring that can be used for discussion about course topics and advice on course assignments.

Assessment Methods and Criteria
  • valid for whole curriculum period:

    Doing the course by attenting contact teaching: 80% participation, assignments. Doing the course by exam: exam.

  • applies in this implementation

    Notice that the above assessment methods and criteria are out-of-date because this year we have separate courses for lecture (this syllabus) and exam study attainments.

    Assessment methods and criteria for lecture study attainment:

    Student performance in HID (lecture) is evaluated based on individual work (100%) = watching and reflecting video presentations + possible other materials + doing the respective assignments.

    Grading of HID (lecture):

     - Individual work: Each week at least one video with assignment is put forward, with a deadline next Friday. Altogether there is 6-7 assignments, each requiring 2-4 hours of work. The assignment is typically an open question to which student answer in writing or visualisation. Each of these assignments earns student maximum of 10-20 points, maximum total being 100 points. Assignments can be done in English, Finnish or Swedish.

    - Assignments must be submitted on time. Each beginning 24h of being late will earn penalty of -1 point to the student(s) in question.

    Final grade of the course is calculated accordingly:

     - 0-50 points = course grade fail (0)
    - 51-60 points = course grade satisfactory (1)
    - 61-70 points = course grade very satisfactory (2)
    - 71-80 points = course grade good (3)
    - 81-90 points = course grade very good (4)
    - 91-100 points = course grade excellent (5) 

    If student is not satisfied with their grade, higher grade can be attempted by taking the lecture course again or (re)doing the exam. In any case student can always contact teacher in charge to talk about the course, their grading or any other matter relating to the course. Technical mistakes in grading will be of course solved without redoing the course.

  • valid for whole curriculum period:

    • 81h
    • Contact teaching 24h
    • Independent studying 40h
    • Personal reflection and self-assessment 16h
    • Course feedback 1h

  • applies in this implementation

    - Contact teaching max 18 hours = watching/listening to video presentations and possible other online materials + option to tutoring meetings with the teacher when needed.

    - Independent studying 46 hours = working with the course assignments individually. This is roughly 6,5 hours / week.

    - Personal reflection and self-assessment 16 hours = internalisation and reflection based on course contents to which there is about 2,5 hours/ week. This crucial phase of learning and development takes place in student’s own time and is not scheduled or evaluated by the teacher.

    - Course feedback 1 hour = feedback that student gives about the course via Webropol survey and directly to the teacher.


Study Material
  • valid for whole curriculum period:

    Listed in course syllabus

  • applies in this implementation

    One of the assignments is to read and write reflection about one of the chapters from one of the following readers:

    Monteiro, Stephen, ed. 2017. The Screen Media Reader. Culture, Theory, Practice. New York: Bloomsbury.
    Resnick, Elizabeth, ed. 2019. The Social Design Reader. London: Bloomsbury.

    Both are ordered to Aalto Library digital collection 23.8.2021.

Substitutes for Courses
SDG: Sustainable Development Goals

    11 Sustainable Cities and Communities

    12 Responsible Production and Consumption

    13 Climate Action


Further Information
  • valid for whole curriculum period:

    Teaching Period:

    2020-2021 Autumn I

    2021-2022 Autumn I

    Course Homepage:

    Registration for Courses: Sisu replaces Oodi on 9 August, 2021. Priority order to courses is according to the order of priority decided by the Academic committee for School of Arts, Design and Architecture:


    Maximum group size: 120. Priority order: DoD BA, Design minor, Design exchange, Aalto, Open university, JOO

Details on the schedule
  • applies in this implementation

    Themes of weekly videos + other online materials in order of publication:

    Introduction to the course and ways of working. Why online and why independently.

    Short history of humankind and even shorter history of design profession. Golden age of Finnish design and how to learn more about it, or about more international takes on design history. Why some become big names? Does it matter?

    What should designer think about innovation? What should be considered an innovation and what are the most interesting innovations from design's point of view?

    Industrial revolution in general and technological developments in textile industry especially. Consequences of industrial revolution to the design professions and consumption.

    One of the biggest consequences is urbanisation. People moving to cities and its consequences to the ways we interact with each other. Fashion mechanism. Designers interpreting consumer taste to the production. Forecasting of fashions. Designers interpreting environmental wellbeing to the production.

    Increasing demand for comfort and its consequences to the design practices and to what designers design.

    Brief history of user-centred/human-centred design. Expanding field of work for designers. Design thinking, design ethnography, Co-design, service design, systems design.

    Emergence of collective conscience. Who's in the focus of design work? Emergence of social and environmental worry. Victor Papanek and the missing designs from 1970's that we still miss. Design as exclusive and elitist sport hardly none can afford. What inclusive design could mean?

    Future moves. Digitalisation of design practices. Sustainability of design.