CoID students at the Global Grad Show in Dubai

Global Grad Show, an exhibition of groundbreaking works from the world’s leading design schools, took place for the second time during Dubai Design Week this October. Aalto University was represented by 5 students, 3 of which come from the CoID programme. After the trip our students have taken a moment to reflect on trip and experiences.

Aalto University students in front of the Global Grad Show pavilion

This year the Global Grad Show exhibition consisted of design student projects from universities from 30 different countries around the world. The exhibited projects varied from, for example, electronic vehicle design to boundary breaking critical design. Aalto University was represented by Tuomas Hämäläinen (CoID), Tilda Jyräsalo, Emilia Tapprest (CoID), Maija Järviniemi and Miro Virta (CoID) with their works BeoSound Orbit, Hilla, Lightbound, Not A Matter of Taste and Koto.

Here are some impressions of the student’s after one week at the show:

“What made the show interesting for me is that most of the students from all around the world were physically present during the Design Week. Hence, instead of reading description texts in front of the prototype, you could hear about the process in person. Dubai as a city is the furthest you can go from Helsinki – clusters of highrise buildings isolated by highways and massive construction sites, malls and artificial waters. The Design District – where the Global Grad Show took place – is located in one of these clusters. We took a shuttle bus there every day from the hotel and after the long days, took some time off for visiting the city together with other students.”
– Emilia Tapprest


“Dubai as a location was truly a peculiar one for a design week. Skyscrapers competing with their neon-based light installations and dancing fountains combined with the strict and fundamental rules of the land of sand created rather a dream-like utopia. It was hard to distinguish the genuine Arabic culture behind all the money and glitter raining out of the windows of unfinished buildings. It made you question if you even live in the same planet. However, the city managed to gather interesting selection of design-related projects and most of all people behind them. In this case meeting fellow companions (read design students) around the world was the best part of the whole trip and exhibition. Interesting was to discover how the geographical location where projects were created had a strong impact. For example many of the Asia-based works were related to pollution and securing pure oxygen. “

– Maija Järviniemi

Portable picnic set designed by our students

“This was only the second time Dubai Design Week was organised. It is not an established entity in the mix of different design events yet and it shows. Exhibition visitors mostly included international press, school kids and design students from nearby countries. However, it felt like one big group was missing: the common people. Yet, from the point of view of a design student the show was inspiring. The organisers were accommodating and made us feel welcome and the mix of different people created an international atmosphere in the exhibition hall. There was even promise of the Ruler of Dubai visiting, but it is still unclear whether this was just a rumor.

The exhibition itself was well curated and the projects exhibited were diverse which worked as a reminder on how vast the field of design is. Yet, at the same time, it was interesting to see how student works from all around the world revolved around similar kind of themes of sustainability and well-being.

Dubai itself, as an environment, is a project that is very much still in progress. At the moment, the city seems more like a big construction yard than a place to spend time or live in. As such, the environment didn’t match the event. Coming years will show whether Dubai Design Week will be able to find footing amongst other global design events.”

– Miro Virta

Tuomas and his design BeoSound Orbit

“Going to Dubai for the Design Week was a thrilling opportunity, in more ways than one. To me one of the most interesting things about the Design Week, in addition to getting inspired by fellow designers, was to see how the very Western world of design mashes with the culture of the Middle East.

It wasn’t just about the Design Week, though. In a way I feel the trip would’ve been a lost opportunity if we hadn’t spent some time exploring what life is like beyond the Design District. It was fascinating to simply get to experience this wonderland that’s Dubai: realising the true meaning of “shopping hell” at The Dubai Mall, strolling through bazaars, riding the world’s longest fully automated metro line, feeling the soft red desert sand, and soaring to the unreal heights of Burj Khalifa. Never forget.”

– Tuomas Hämäläinen