Alumnus of the year

The School of Arts, Design and Architecture each year nominates the Alumnus of the Year in acknowledgement of pioneering or exceptional work.

The alumni of the School of Arts, Design and Architecture includes all graduates from the current School and its predecessors.

Alumnus of the Year 2012
Animator Mika Ripatti

In the year 2012 the award went to animator Mika Ripatti, a graduate of the Degree Programme in Graphic Design. Already during his student days, Ripatti was a pioneer in computer animation and later taught the subject in the Media Laboratory. He also worked on the development of the brand of the Nelonen Media television company in which he was able to make use of advanced and extremely sophisticated animation graphics. In the year 2000, Mika Ripatti managed to get a job at Blue Sky Studios in New York where the production of the film “Ice Age” was about to start. Since then Mika Ripatti has become one of Hollywood’s top animators and millions of viewers around the world have been able to enjoy his graphics in a large number of successful films and other programmes.

Alumnus of the Year 2011
Designer Tauno Tarna

The Aalto University School of Art and Design selects its Alumnus of the Year in acknowledgement of pioneering or exceptional work in the field. This year the award went to interior architect and designer Tauno Tarna for his work to promote human-oriented design in industry and design organizations. Tarna spent many years as the designer and co-ordinator of manufacturing for a company producing kitchen utensils. In addition to his work, he has influenced the appreciation of everyday Finnish items as an expert in positions of trust. Tauno Tarna also played a key role in preparing the 100th anniversary year of Kaj Franck.


Alumna of the Year 2010
Textile Artist Helena Perheentupa

Textile artist Helena Perheentupa has carried out her life’s work in India, training the country’s ’first’ generation of designers. India's tradition and wealth in art and design is particularly visible in textiles, making it a natural field to begin developing the Indian attitude towards design. While working as a teacher at the National Institute of Design, Perheentupa launched education in textile production and design entrepreneurship. She has also established relations with local operators and developed networks. The textile industry in India is still primarily manual in nature, taking place in small village-based and urban workshops. The principle behind Perheentupa’s teaching and development work has been to support initiative, entrepreneurship and local methods. Education for girls is particularly close to her heart.


Alumnus of the Year 2009
Graphic Designer Xiao Yong

Xiao Yong is one of China’s most renowned designers and has his own design agency. He has published numerous books and was the editor-in-chief of China Art and Design, the world’s largest design magazine, in 2000-2003. Logos, company logos and posters designed by Xiao Yong have received many international awards and acknowledgements. The medals awarded at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing were designed by Xiao Yong and he also developed the colour scheme used at the Games. Xiao Yong graduated with an MA in 1994 and works as a professor of graphic design at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing.

Alumna of the Year 2008
Painter and Artist Anna Retulainen

The School of Art and Design selected its Alumna of the Year from among its graduates for the fifth time. This year the recipient is painter and artist Anna Retulainen, who has already developed a fine career despite her young age. Retulainen graduated from the Art Education department in 1995. Her merits include nominations for the Ars Fennica and Carnegie Award and a museum exhibition at the Helsinki Festival. The simple subjects and strong expression in Retulainen’s paintings leave room for interpretation. Known as a painter of change, Retulainen asks a classic yet modern question in her paintings: What do we actually see?

Retulainen’s successful artistic work is a reminder of the strong artistic foundation underlying activities at the School of Art and Design, and the importance of art in our society.

Alumnus of the Year 2007
Photographer Jorma Puranen

For 30 years, Jorma Puranen has been a central and visible figure in the development of Finnish photography and its international breakthrough. In addition to his extensive, current and very active exhibition activities, he is a popular lecturer and expert at international events in his field. Over the years, Puranen has created a significant network of contacts between artists from Finland and other countries. Jorma Puranen is also an important and critical actor in Finnish photography education. As a professor at the School of Art and Design in the 1990s, he was involved in developing, implementing and renewing the highest content of art education.

Alumnus of the Year 2006
Designer Arto Ruokonen

Arto Ruokonen has promoted business activities in design and development of the entire design field. He is a successful entrepreneur and has actively and boldly developed customer-oriented service activities. This has set an example for other design agencies. Arto Ruokonen has also served as programme director and co-ordinator of the Tekes DESIGN 2005 and Academy of Finland research programmes. Through this work, he has widely influenced development of the whole design field and achievement of the target of being an international forerunner.


Alumna of the Year 2005
Fashion Illustrator Rauni Palonen

Rauni Palonen has had a long and successful career as a fashion illustrator and is one of the most visible professionals in Finland in her field. Her uniqueness as a renowned fashion illustrator is more current than ever, now that fashion illustration is experiencing a strong international boom. Palonen is a very enthusiastic and inspiring teacher of fashion sketching and illustration who prepares well for her lessons and is highly respected by her students. Palonen has worked hard to focus public attention on the fashion illustration expertise of School of Art and Design students.


Alumnus of the Year 2004
Graphic Designer, Professor emeritus Tapani Aartomaa

Through his actions, Tapani Aartomaa has demonstrated great respect for the creative thinking and artistic ambition that are the driving forces behind the School of Art and Design. Although Aartomaa retired as a professor in 1998, he has continued to co-operate with the School, providing diverse support for its national and international goals, the development of art and design culture as well as the career development of its graduates. Aartomaa’s own artistic work commands extensive international respect.

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