Ritual Design – A New Perspective or Sacrilege?

“We needed a fresh approach, all our clients already know service design and how to use the tools”, starts anthropologist and service designer Veera Suomalainen her talk at October’s IxDA Helsinki meetup.

My first thought was what?! Every time I tell people that I study service design, I have to explain them what it means. I guess the clients of Suomalainen’s Exove are more enlightened.

As Suomalainen’s background is in anthropology, she got the idea to look at rituals and how they could be used in service design. Rituals are repetitive actions with a greater goal and bigger meaning than just the function. Examples of rituals are rites of passage such as the Finnish military service or penkkarit.


Veera Suomalainen explaining rites of passage.

When a person is performing a rite of passage they are in a liminal space, not here but not yet there. This liminality garners great fellowship with others in the same position. Liminality can be found in non-places such as airports or shopping malls as they do not have rich meanings.

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Ten.ten. Ten to ten. A full dozen! Usco Hackathon

We were told about USCO Hackathon event and a change to participate in it. I had no idea what it was or what could be my role in it. But it’s always good to try new things, so I decided to join and I’m not regretting. It was an excellent experience.!


USCO Hackathon was held at Laurea Leppävaara campus on 10th of October from 10 am to 10 pm. Full 12 hours of innovation. There are so many things I could write about. I could write about hackathons or this specific event. I could tell you how great the whole event was, how well it was organized, food, premises, everything – because it was! I could tell you how good our facilitator was and how important her role was – but I won’t tell about that. I could tell you about the evening gala and all the interesting talks we heard – but I’m not going to tell about those either.

I want to write something that opened my eyes and what I learned about myself, team work and the dynamic and power of the team.

I have started my studies at Laurea this autumn and our firs course was Design Thinking. Really very interesting but it left me wondering: what just happened? I was amazed by the new things. Attending to the hackathon opened my eyes about those earlier things too. Why do we tackle the problems or situations in multidisciplinary teams? Why don’t we work alone or sit on our ideas until they are finished? Why do we need the input from so many when one person could do the job?

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Design is here, at your Service. Enter and Encounter.

I have always been a fan of art and design and therefore a regular visitor of Helsinki Design Museum. Also, having only recently started to study Service Design and Innovation, I was delighted to spot the Design Museum advertisement on “Enter and Encounter – A series of discussions hosted by curators” as part of their ongoing exhibition “Enter and Encounter – An Invitation to Tomorrow” jointly organised by Design Museum and the Finnish Association of Designers Ornamo.

“Enter and Encounter – A series of discussions hosted by curators” is a series of individual design related discussions on the main theme: “Design in Future – where do you go?”. Curators of the exhibition, all experts in design in their own field are holding discussions with invited guests free for all museum visitors to participate in.

I managed to spot the advertisement just in time to book slots from my calendar for the last two sessions of the series. Luckily enough, both related to Service design –currently my main field of interest outside work. I was full of excitement last Tuesday evening when taking the stairs to the second floor of the museum where the first of the two discussions was going to take place under the main topic: How is design challenging the present and shaping the future? I sat myself on the chair among the concentrated audience who had come to listen to Juha Kronqvist, Lead Service Designer and Design Director of Hellon and Sampsa Hyysalo, Associate Professor in Co-Design at Aalto University School of Art.

Kronqvist and Hyysalo shared views also on the following questions:
Who are the designers today and with whom are they designing?
How should new design, new design forms, and design in general be exhibited?

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‘People-Driven City’ – Co-creating the City

Have you ever thought about who owns the city where you live in? That was a striking question for many of us attending ‘People-Driven City’, the international seminar of the urban festival ‘Lähiöfest2017’ (‘Festival for Neighbourhoods’) at the University of Helsinki. Are the owners the ones who have the political power, the businesses, or are they the people who inhabit it, the citizens?


The seminar brought together experts as well as activists involved in projects that interlace placemaking, city planning, entrepreneurship and community involvement, and it wanted to inspire broader discussion on urban planning and development by presenting varied initiatives from traditional structures to grass-root work. The aim was to look how and where “top-down” and “bottom-up” initiatives can meet, the emphasis being on the areas of the city in the midst of change.

During the day we learned about fascinating international cases. One of them was MakeShift (UK/FR) organization, which designs, builds and manages new public destinations that house communities of local, independent businesses. One of them is Peckham Levels project, which is transforming seven empty levels of a multi-storey carpark into an experimental cultural destination by creating affordable workspace for artists and entrepreneurs. Not to mention the cases of Lola Lik culture hub and The Movement Hotel (NL) run by refugees, both located in Amsterdam at a former prison. In those cases, the deserted places in a city are being taken over by an organization and the people are developing the city with the help of these organizations.

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Customer experience in the strategy of Kone

The success of Kone is one of the top examples in Finland of how bringing service design into the company’s strategy has benefited the customer, the firm and probably the whole market. I think if elevator business can do it, we all should be able to do it, too!

How do they do it

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The latest Kone strategy has turned the strategic thinking from inside out to outside in. That means every development effort starts from customers’ needs, not from the company’s ideas. Kone has focused on how to stand out in the elevator market and come to the conclusion that the human centered approach to services and innovation is a key to success.

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Design for Life

12 hours of innovative groupwork, inspirational talks, delicious brainfood and of course: competition. What more could a future service designer ask for on an average tuesday?

USCO (Using Digital Co-Creation for Business Development) is a project managed by Laurea University of Applied Sciences and the University of Tampere. The project involves eight organizations that represent both private and public services.

10.10. 2017 a hackathon of services was arranged at Laurea Leppävaara. The hackathon was based on the human-centered perspectives of design. The aim of the hackathon was to rearrange the services as we know them and to create new human-centered services for the 100 year old Finland. 18 multidisciplinary teams participated in the event and by the end of the day 18 brilliant ideas packed in one minute videos were presented to other teams and the jury consisting of experts. The winners were announced and rewarded in a gala filled with bubbles and balloons.


Our team had the privilege to create a service for a fictional persona Matti, a 60 year old chairman of his condominium. The premise of the design process was to create a human-centered service, a design for life.  As a result of an iterative and sometimes frustrating process we came up with a brilliant idea that would fulfill Matti’s needs as an enthusiastic chairman devoted to the community: a digital service that connects Matti to the other residents and the other condominiums in the area. Our service Fiksu Naapuri (Smart Neighbour) enables all the residents and condominiums to participate and communicate on different levels.

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Juha-Pekka Ahvenainen, Markus Alavaikko

We were lucky to be part of the winning team at Digital Wellbeing Sprint (DWS) which took place in Metropolia Leppävaara on August 2017. The first price was an opportunity take part in the third Belt Bootcamp on 18-20 September 2017 in Norrköping, Sweden. We were able to send two of our team members to Norrköping, and due to our personal schedules, those two were us.

The Belt project aims to generate new start-up’s & business entities across boarders by utilizing co-creation methods. BELT BootCamp is a 3-day free event that aims to match-make talents, ideas and start-ups from Sweden, Finland and Latvia with a purpose to establish new cross-border entities and empower co-creation. At Belt Bootcamps start-ups and talents get the opportunity to develop their business ideas and models further with the guidance and support of experienced facilitators and business coaches. The main focus of Belt Bootcamp Norrköping was in different Smart City related themes. You can apply for the next Belt Bootcamp at: https://www.beltproject.net/



Day 0

Our journey started on Sunday 17th of September at 8.30am. After a short flight we had a bus transfer from Arlanda to Norrköping with fellow participants from Latvia and Tampere. On Sunday we had some time to get to know the city. Norrköping looks a lot like Tampere. Both cities are also are well known of the textile industry. A river runs through both cities.

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