Building bridges in Helsinki: Reporting from workshop 09

Trash 2 Cash, Building bridges in Helsinki: Reporting from workshop 09

Design Museum, Helsinki

Finland, with its densely rich forests and scattered islands, provided the perfect backdrop to workshop 09 in its capital, Helsinki. Hosted by Aalto University over a period of three days, workshop 09 was based at The Design Museum in the historic centre and at Espoo, a stunning tree covered campus.

A pre-workshop session between the Methodology Team took place at Aalto Arts on Tuesday 19 September, where the partners discussed the methods models created to date, and began the process of crafting the meta-model for Design Driven Material Innovation (DDMI). A big black bus then took the team to The Design Museum, for a book launch and seminar for ‘Lost in the Woods’. Trash-2-Cash partners – Christian Tubito (Material Connexions Italy), Helena Wedin (Research Institutes of Sweden) and Michael Hummel (Aalto Arts) – presented results and insights from the project to date, to an audience of design-hungry students and public. (View ‘lost in the wood(s) book launch and seminar event’ blog post.)

Day 1 of Workshop 09 was centred around the academic partners meeting to discuss the ‘Master cases’ – concepts shortlisted from 33 ideas to 7 - covering fashion, new generation plastics and automotive interiors. Environmental impact, LCA, innovation, realistic business models and feasibility all had to be considered in great depth before arriving at these decisions. The main purpose of the workshop as a whole was to decide how to turn these cases into successful design products and prototypes.

The day began with an overview of the whole project along with thorough presentations of the 7 master cases.  This was followed by interactive and discussion sessions to assess how to move each case forward. Honest and difficult conversations were had, essential to innovation success.

To break from the intensity of the day a tour of the design museum was given with particular reference to the ‘Enter and Encounter’ exhibition, featuring work from Aalto University’s New Biomateriality Lab and referencing Trash-2-Cash work.

On day 2 the consortium was very much ‘Lost in the Wood (s)’ on a cold misty morning at the green leafy Aalto University campus in Espoo, where Aalto Chem are based. Surrounded by nature and spending most of the day in what looked like a luxury tree house, all technical aspects of the project were analysed. Manufacturing streams, recycling and business scenarios were all debated and discussed at length and processes put in place to move towards fully-formed prototypes. Existing and potential challenges were also addressed.

A tour of the Aalto Chem laboratories provided a fascinating insight into regenerated cellulose processing.  It was inspiring for everyone to be in a scientific environment free of harmful chemicals and that focussed on circular innovation.

The highlight of the day was to see the results of new Trash-2-Cash yarn and fabric developments. Despite the challenges ahead and technical aspects still to resolve, excitement was in the air as the consortium could see the potential and positive impact final realised prototypes and product designs will have on the environment and on industry.

At this important turning point fully formed products can now begin to emerge. Watch this space!