Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture to award eight honorary doctorates


The Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture will organise its fourth Formal Conferment Ceremony for Master’s and Doctoral Degrees in the field of art and design on 11 January 2013.

Eight honorary doctorates will be awarded at the ceremony to the following persons: Laurie Anderson, multimedia artist from the United States; Rachel Cooper, Professor of Design Management from the United Kingdom; Arunas Gelunas, Minister of Culture from Lithuania; Pirjo Honkasalo, a director, screenwriter and cinematographer; author and artist Mauri Kunnas; Olavi Linden, Director, R&D, and Chief Designer at Fiskars; Ezio Manzini, Professor of Design from Italy, and Professor Emeritus Yrjö Sotamaa.

Laurie Anderson (b. 1947) is one of the world’s leading multimedia artists and a pioneer in the use of technology in art. She is known for imposing work that combines different media. Anderson’s accomplishments are pioneering also in the area of experimental music. Her work has been displayed at the Guggenheim Museum SoHo and at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, among other places. Anderson has received several different types of recognition and awards, including the 2007 Gish Prize as well as grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2002, Anderson was appointed the first artist-in-residence of NASA. She has also published six books.

Rachel Cooper (b. 1953) has been among the central actors and proponents of European research and education in the field of design for a number of decades. Much of her work has been conducted in collaboration with the European Academy of Design founded by her and through her position as the editor of The Design Journal. She has had a close relationship with the School of Arts, Design and Architecture for many years. Rachel Cooper is Professor of Design Management at the University of Lancaster, where she is Chair of Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts, co-Director of ImaginationLancaster and co-Director of HighWire. She has produced a large number of publications, with The Handbook of Design Management (Berg 2011) as the most recent one.

Arūnas Gelūnas (b.1968) has been a central actor in developing cooperation between Baltic and Nordic art schools. He has acted as professor at the Vilnius Academy of Arts and as visiting professor at a number of different universities in both Lithuania and abroad and authored several scientific publications. He has been involved in the BaltArt network organised by the School of Arts, Design and Architecture (Art Education) since its inception. Arūnas Gelūnas is also a graphic designer and an artist who has received several awards and held numerous exhibitions. In July 2010 Arūnas Gelūnas was appointed Minister of Culture of Lithuania. His recent activities have included promoting an initiative to establish the Arts Council of Lithuania according to the Finnish and Scandinavian model.

Pirjo Honkasalo (b. 1947) has been a director, screenwriter and cinematographer of documentary and fictional films for more than 30 years. In 2004, Pirjo Honkasalo was granted the Aho & Soldan Lifetime Achievement Award. Pirjo Honkasalo acted as Artist Professor, a form of grant awarded by the National Council for Cinema, between 2001 and 2006. In 2006, Honkasalo was given the Pro Finlandia medal. Her films have received several awards both in Finland and in international film festivals. Honkasalo graduated from the Department of Cinematography at the University of Art and Design in 1969 and she has been honorary member of the School of Arts, Design and Architecture since 2006.

Mauri Kunnas’s (b. 1950) children’s books have been published in 28 languages in 32 countries. Kunnas’s vast production of artistically uncompromising books that are immensely rich in content can be said to constitute true popular enlightenment and have, among other things, brought Finnish folklore and history within the reach of children. He has received several awards, including the Puupäähattu prize of the Finnish Comics Society, the State Award for Children's Culture, the Rudolf Koivu prize and the Pro Finlandia medal.  Kunnas was granted an award for his work to benefit children and most recently the Cultural prize of the City of Espoo in 2011. Kunnas graduated as graphic designer from the University of Art and Design in 1975.

Olavi Lindén (b. 1946) is best-known for his long and successful career as chief designer and director of research and development at the consumer products company Fiskars. Through his work in the area of design and product development, carried out at the Fiskars corporation throughout several decades, Lindén has impacted the development of both the usability and the aesthetic qualities of garden tools in particular. In addition to Fiskars tools, Olavi Lindén has also designed musical instruments. He has received several awards for his work, most recently the Muoto 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award by Aller Media.  He is also honorary member of the Finnish Association of Designers Ornamo since 2011. Lindén graduated as engineer from Tekniska Läroverket.

Ezio Manzini (b 1945) has been working for more than two decades in the field of design for sustainability, with a special focus on social innovation. On this topic he started, and currently coordinates, DESIS: an international network promoting, worldwide, design schools as agents of social change towards sustainability. Throughout his professional life Ezio Manzini has been professor of design at the Politecnico di Milano. Parallel to this, he collaborated with several international universities. Currently, he is Honorary Guest Professor at the Tongji University, in Shanghai and at the Jiangnan University, in Wuxi, China as well as at the COPPE-UFRJ, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The most recent award granted to Manzini is the Sir Misha Black Medal in 2012.

Yrjö Sotamaa (b. 1942) is Professor Emeritus at the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Currently, Sotamaa is Executive Vice Director of the Sino-Finnish Centre at Tongji University, one of Aalto University’s partner universities, and Professor and Advisory Dean at the same university. When acting as Rector of the University of Art and Design from 1968 to 2008, he was a strong supporter of research and doctoral education that was being launched at the university. It is clear that without his persistent support and encouragement at the level of university management, the school’s current leadership position in research in the field of art and design would not be possible. Sotamaa has been honorary member of the Finnish Association of Designers Ornamo since 1992, and he was granted the Magnolia Silver Award by the City of Shanghai in 2011.

An honorary doctorate is the highest honour that a university can award. The decision concerning the recipients of the honorary doctorates to be awarded at the 2013 Ceremonial Conferment of Degrees at the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture was made by the school's Academic Affairs Committee. According to the Aalto University’s administrative guidelines, a school may, in connection with a Ceremonial Conferment of Doctoral Degrees but also at other times, award an honorary doctorate and related academic insignia to a person who through his or her scientific or artistic activities or through merits obtained in the promotion of science or arts or other cultural activities is considered worthy of such recognition.

Further information:

Ada Schwanck, Project Coordinator tel. +358 (0)50 5697 449, ada.schwanck [at] aalto [dot] fi

Saara Koskinen, Communications Officer, tel. +358 (0)50 5943 422, saara.koskinen [at] aalto [dot] fi



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