Arctic Art and Design – What Is It All About?

Arctic Art and Design is about producing extreme wellbeing and competitive edge for circumpolar areas. The Arctic Art and Design master’s program offers a multidisciplinary approach that connects areas of applied visual arts, interaction design, service design and social design to increase wellbeing of the periphery and marginal areas.

Arctic Art and Design means activities that emerges from understanding of the Arctic environment and the conditions in there. This kind of art and design also takes into account the human adaptation to Arctic conditions. Arctic Art and Design produces solutions to the needs of extreme and marginal contexts, for example solutions for service co-production in sparsely populated areas. These solutions are scalable and applicable in other contexts. Rich cooperation and international networks, natural resources, respect for indigenous knowledge and strategic multidisciplinary research are at the core of Arctic Art and Design.

The students can have a specific focus on either applied visual arts or service design. The students will work on professional portfolios within these thematic areas throughout their studies. Both focus areas have a strong linkage to service design, which is one of the main strategic research areas at the University of Lapland. Research on service design aims at nurturing more discussion on service design, and on sketching its linkages to debates, methods and theories in other disciplines.

Applied Visual Arts

The focus of the Applied Visual Arts specialization is to increase the employability of artists through new forms of collaboration in which artists take advantage of their knowledge to become specialists or designers of art and visual culture. Community-based art education, project-based learning and applied visual arts activities have been developed in such a way that they fluently combine research, pedagogy and the methods of contemporary art, not only within the context of university-level art education but also within the university’s regional development work and international networks.

Service design with applied visual arts opens up new opportunities for northern social and economic wellbeing. Artistic activity is considered to be a service as well as a tool of service development. Art is understood as a social and communal process that produces values, symbols, meaning and practices for the North. The growing fields of service design have a lot in common with community-based art education and applied visual arts, such as using design tools and methods to allow active participation in processes.

Applied visual arts projects have been outlined and noticed as nationally and internationally unique, and are rightly defined as applied visual arts that observe the special conditions of marginal and peripheral areas.

Service Design

Service design opens up new opportunities for Arctic wellbeing. Service design tools and methods enable active user participation in the service design process. The use of innovative methods, creativity and intuition have all helped the service design approach. This working approach with service users can help us create radical innovations and solutions for service production in marginal living conditions. Design and service design help in the development and innovations processes located in the Arctic or other marginal and peripheral contexts.

Service design has a growing role in the public sector. The profession of design is changing as design moves towards experience-based co-design. Better public services are demanded by users and the government as services are developing in general. As a result of this development, the traditional way of participating in decision-making on services through representative or direct democracy is accompanied by a new, more innovative way in which residents participate in the planning and development of service provision through user-driven innovation activities.

The service design specialization of the master’s programme is twofold: on one hand there is a strong focus in innovation development and contribution to growth and prosperity, and on the other hand the focus is not only in user-centered design but also in community-centred approach and a strong development of the civil society.