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WORTH Partnership Project
News article9 October 2018European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency4 min read



This week it was great to interview our WORTH ambassador from Finland: Hanna-Kaisa Alanen. Hanna-Kaisa is a designer, doctoral candidate and Ornamo board member.

She has had an amazing career with over 20 years of experience and a profound knowledge in new product design and conceptual branding both in fashion and home segments in consumer goods industry. During our interview we wanted to find out more about these experiences and what advice she has with WORTH participants:

With your vast range of design experience throughout your career, why do you think it is important to innovate and to progress through design?

All in all, it is sometimes crucial to look at things from new perspectives, and through innovation, ideas may be redefined. It is an excellent way to question existing doings and experiment without limitations. In other words, innovation may be a way of finding completely new kinds of outcomes and a way of leaving behind fixations. In this sense, designers are at the forefront, since for many designers, innovation is a process close to the heart. Perhaps because of this, design has also become mainstream in many ways. As we know, for example, design thinking can be said to be a general capability and convenient in many areas. So, more or less, thinking outside the box has been found to be an effective way of approaching problems in the rapidly changing world. It can therefore be assumed that innovation through design is not only desirable but also highly essential from time to time.

You have worked in sectors that work with products that tend to a consumer market, why is it important to understand both aspects?

Indeed, these are interdependent. In a way, they are the opposite sides of the same coin, because, after all, we are talking about the implementation of products, whether tangible or intangible, to the right audience. In that sense, I like the idea of fashion and how it can be understood in its broader sense: it is said that without the act of user adoption fashion is not complete, and therefore user experience must be taken into account in the development process. And as is also claimed, especially fashion may operate as a sensitive selector and provide a basis for acceptance or rejection of the consumer. In this way, fashion thinking brings both products and users naturally together. The other thing of course is what consumers really expect of products at present-day. In general, the way the market has changed over the last few years is enormous. When the mainstream and sub cultures are no longer as dominant as before, there is also more creative space for users as well. For institutional organizations, the change of consumer behavior may be a huge challenge, for smaller players it may be a great opportunity.

What are some design trends that you are interested in at the moment and would like to see more of in the future?

There has been a major shift for sustainable design, and I hope its role will increase in the future. Certainly, for example, new material innovations will bring new perspectives to this approach. Generally, more humanity into design is needed as well as designing for life. Otherwise, I like the idea of multi-functional products, whether it’s clothing or other things. Especially, at this very moment, I fancy light technical fabrics and a protective spirit. Easiness in every way is close to me and Scandinavian design mentality in general. In addition, after earthy mood and colours, a colourful palette feels fresh. But as “lagom” (Engl. moderate) is a huge trend as well, I would prefer the colours in a balanced way. But overall, I am interested in a lot of different trends at the same time: what is important is that the products, concepts or services make an impact in some way. In that sense, the “affective” paradigm is an important trend for me.

The WORTH Partnership Project encourages cross-border collaborations to develop a project, how do you feel this will help the creative industry within Europe?

What a great opportunity! This is needed. Any kind of cooperation and exchange of ideas is always welcome. In the best case, the project can make it possible to find partners, with whom to start long-term cooperation. In different countries there is also peculiar strengths in terms of design so by bringing these together, can be achieved the best results. Not to mention that it is possible to get transnational mentoring at various stages of the project. It is highly recommended to apply.

What is the best piece of advice you could give to the WORTH 1st call winners and any start-up entreprenures within the industry?

Do not do all the things alone. Trust people and reflect upon your own ideas. Our strength lies in integrated thinking. Trust your instinct and intuition. Focus on the essentials. Act professionally, for example, take care of IPR-contracts. Do not forget to ask for advice!

Find out more about Hanna-Kaisa Alanen here.


Publication date
9 October 2018
European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency
News Type
  • Worth News