ADF learning philosophy

Graduating university students are expected to utilize their disciplinary knowledge effectively in increasingly complex and interdisciplinary environments. They need to step out of their disciplinary silos to efficiently collaborate with people representing a multitude of disciplines and cultures, as well as to adopt a holistic view to confront the challenges presented by the working life.



Hosted by Aalto Design Factory



Participating courses



Arranging courses in ADF


Originating from product development and design education, Design Factory provides an environment that is suitable for experiential learning. The Design Factory approach combines disciplinary knowledge with design thinking and working life skills, such as collaborative working style, effective communication skills, and ability to implement theory to practice.


Teacher as a facilitator and student as an active knowledge creator

Information gathering and evaluation of various possible solutions

Visualizing, prototyping and experimenting with ideas

Having a real-life problem as a basis for learning

Interdisciplinary group work



Experimenting with design-based learning at ADF is supported with practical Teaching Partner mentoring. If you want to know more, contact Maria Clavert.

If you are interested in arranging your course, project or workshop at Design Factory, please contact Marcela Acosta and tell more about the experiment and aim of the course!


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    4 different forms of bringing design thinking to giants

    Greetings from the d.confestival and d.safari, a mix of a design thinking conference and festival celebrating the 10th birthday of the Hasso Plattner Insitute in Potsdam, Germany. This has gathered design thinking academics and practitioners around the globe together to discuss everything from design thinking and neuroscience to social innovations. I would like to share some of the experiences of trying design thinking relayed from the very largest companies, exceeding most Finnish cities in size.

    Container muse as a first step at Daimler (284 000+ employees): To help turn both management and employees to fans of design thinking, Daniel Biederman describes bringing in a design thinking container and first batch of design thinking coaches in the middle of a plant to give first-hand experiences in design thinking. A bit over a year into the process, they’ve package design thinking into a step-wise process to help employees have faith that a result will wait at the end.

    Moving on to consulting internal teams at Phillips (114 000+ employees): Maarten Rincker shared moving on from design thinking training to a dedicated unit helping internal projects in human-centered innovation. Design thinking skills have thus needed to be coupled with consulting and project management expertise to be able to create successful end-results, not just good ideas.

    Bringing design thinking to the customers at SAP (84 000+ employees): Similarly Andreas Hauser reports that while SAP has trained thousands of employees in design thinking, he’s more excited about the 600+ customer design engagement that have been completed after SAP began offering design thinking to its clients and partners. They use design thinking to make sure their doing the right thing, and agile to effectively deliver it.

    Employees self-organizing at Bosch (390 000+ employees): Uwe Raschke shared the journey of the Home and Garden business unit giving organizational design to the collective hands of the employees last year. As a result, different departments relocated to a shared building, organizing cross-functionally around application areas, eliminating two out of six hierarchical levels, and incentives were transformed from the individual to team-level performance. They are now experimenting with increasing transparency by opening up high-level meetings so that any employee can tune in.


    One underlying theme: communication

    The importance of communication was highlighted in all of the different forms of efforts. Daimler and Phillips, just some years into bringing design thinking to the organization, emphasized the need to get showcases to concretize the added value design thinking can bring. Looking back at already a decade of efforts, Sam Yen from SAP and Angela Haas from Swisscom/Creaholic both described scaling design thinking in their organizations as a bumpy ride with ups and downs. Success stories can again help here in recovering from the speed bumps. Andreas Hauser from SAP highlighted tailoring the message to each audience – convincing sales with client deal values, consultants with adoption rates, developers with product improvements, and so on.

    In addition to sharing success stories, many highlighted that design thinking needs to be experienced rather than just told of. Both Frederick Pferdt from Google and Uwe Raschke from Bosch highlighted opening up the company’s decision making to everyone in it and the transparency of the top management. So let’s share our development ideas and build on top of them!

    Continue reading
    Tua Björklund4 different forms of bringing design thinking to giants
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    #InsideDF – Irena Bakić

    What is Aalto Design Factory about? What do people do here? Our most important asset is the people in DF, the community. In the #InsideDF blogpost series we familiarize you with the people who frequently come to DF.

    In the fourth blogpost we have Irena Bakić, who has a long history at DF.

    Continue reading
    Katariina Helin#InsideDF – Irena Bakić


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There are annually ca. 40 different courses from all schools of Aalto University arranged at ADF. However, some of the courses and projects are more engaged and visible in the everyday life of ADF than others. These courses are most present, night and day.

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT PROJECT is aimed at students interested in developing new products, solutions or consumer goods. The problems are given and sponsored by both domestic and foreign industrial companies, who are searching for innovative cooperation with the next generation of product developers. Over the recent years students have also pursued their own projects and startup ideas in PDP. 


Global Team-Based Design Innovation Course. The ME310 experience is like no other. In fact, it’s more of a lifestyle. Through learning-by-doing, students are solving real-life innovation problems with corporate partners, all while surrounded and supported by a close-knit group of course mates, teaching staff, coaches and 310 alumni. The course has been developed at Stanford University to teach the methodologies of Design Thinking.


International Design Business Management is educating global producers and leaders of innovation in new product, service and business development. The program builds on the premise that new wealth, meaningful social innovation and solutions are increasingly created in the spaces between disciplines and thus there is a need to educate interdisciplinary professionals.


Challenge Based Innovation challenges multidisciplinary student teams and their instructors collaborate with researchers at CERN to discover novel solutions for the future of humankind. The projects are an elaborate mixture, where the technologies derived from research at CERN meet societal, human-driven needs. The students come from a mix of disciplines – we believe that the wildest combinations will produce the most delightful outcomes!


Aaltonaut is a new Bachelor’s Degree Minor Studies Programme in Interdisciplinary Product Development. Aaltonaut courses rely on problem-based learning as well as interdisciplinary teamwork in hands-on projects. Aaltonaut aims to educate its students on different aspects of product development, reinforcing an entrepreneurial attitude, and improving working life skills.


Pack-Age is an intensive 15 ECTS packaging design course uniting design, business and engineering thinking to sustainability and project-based learning. Students work in interdisciplinary teams with real projects from the industry. Creative problem-solving is a key concept. The idea is to use student’s background and prior knowledge as a resource for creative group work. The project work is supported by a wide range of theme lectures.



Please contact these guys for more info