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By Olli Tiuraniemi. Translated by Richard Foley. Illustration by Niina Huuskonen.

The Faculty of Art and Design at the University of Lapland – some 1300 students strong – educates almost half of Finland’s university-­trained designers.

Finnish Lapland has 4000 businesses, of which some one hundred fall into the creative fields, as well as a strong public sector and a significant tourist industry. In fact, the region is a veritable El Dorado for service and strategy design – a treasure trove whose importance and potential have yet to be fully explored, says Project Director Päivi Tahkokallio.

Tahkokallio is in charge of preparing the design programme for Lap­land. The programme will be a five-year effort – and the first such regional programme in Finland – that aims to see the business community and the public sector in Lapland take better advantage of design in their operations.


With a university of its own and its distinctive economy, Lapland has outstanding opportunities to take a place at the forefront of the design world. What Tahkokallio means when she speaks of “new design” is the design of services and strategies rather than the design of goods and products.

“As a small institution, the University of Lapland is flexible and can respond readily to the needs of the business community. More­over, there is simply no place else in the world that has the chance Lapland does of becoming the leader in Arctic service design. Here, Lapland has an unbeatable hand”, Tahkokallio says.

The University of Lapland has also acknowledged these new directions in design in its strategy, where it has committed itself to developing service design across traditional faculty boundaries.

“The University acknowl­edges that developing design education is not pulling a rabbit out of a hat; it means work requiring years of determined and unswerving effort”, Tahkokallio notes.