Helsinki, February 29, 1968
To the Anniversary of Finnish Independence Fund
(now the Finnish Innovation Fund SITRA)
We, the undersigned, Harri Hintikka, Matti Kaje, Juhani Pallasmaa, Tom Simons and Yrjö Sotamaa, respectfully request 50,000 marks from the 50th Anniversary of Finnish Independence Commemorative Fund to cover the costs of a product development seminar to be organized this summer, as well as a report on the training of product designers, to be published in June, 1968.
At the moment, education related to product development is offered in Finland only by the College of Art and Design where the education is based on traditional aesthetics and the needs of handicraft industries. Therefore contemporary industry does not see much opportunity to use graduates from the College of Art and Design in its product design development, with the exception of certain production areas such as textiles, furniture and decorative products. The current type of Finnish product design training is generally known in Western countries as industrial arts education. It is now giving way everywhere to so-called industrial design education, which is aimed at meeting the needs of modern industry. In the most developed industrial countries, it can be clearly seen that product design using modern methods will play an absolutely decisive role, both in terms of the demands of the economy and the general welfare.
During advanced product design training, the student is obliged to study design problems simultaneously and comprehensively from many different perspectives: engineering technology, so-called human factors, production, sales and so on. Correspondingly, since the design student or graduate is not a specialist in all these fields, the product design training includes types of knowledge and skills that form a basis on which he can communicate with specialists in various areas, for instance, technicians, physicians, psychologists, economists, and with the help of whose study he can learn to efficiently process the information he receives and generally to come to understand the interactions between people and complex technical environments. Accordingly, the subject matter within a product design education includes fields such as systems design, computer usage, human factors engineering, applied psychology, anthropology, materials studies, documentation, fact-gathering and so on.
Even if one were to completely overlook the psycho-sociological and health-related issues related to an increasingly technical environment – questions which are constantly gaining significance, even becoming vitally important, which form the primary basis for the growing criticism of the present day’s industry, one is still left with economisation, which is crucial from the industrial point of view, and which itself demands a re-evaluation of the question of product design education. There are indications that firms, including those which manufacture machinery, will in the near future realise that buyers in developed countries have their own sharp-eyed human factors consultants, whose evaluations take into consideration not just prices but also the design-related aspects of products, such as convenience and pleasantness of use, ease of maintenance, reliability, risk factors and so forth.
In Sweden and elsewhere, there are already economic discussions about the necessity for a developed country to have an innovation economy. This is based on the notion that organized manufacturing of product ideas should be linked to rapid technical and financial studies. These in turn lay a foundation for bringing products that are deemed suitable through the design process into production and onto the market without delay. This kind of innovation is associated closely with product design, particularly in terms of new product ideas and product redesign ideas, and of course in terms of actual design.
In the view of this applicant group, the development of product ideas and modernisation of product design play absolutely key roles in developing the competitiveness of Finnish industry. In order to advance these matters, the group needs some 50,000 marks, primarily to cover the foreign instructors’ travel expenses as well as material and office expenses during this spring and summer. Therefore the group respectfully turns to the 50th Anniversary of Finnish Independence Commemorative Fund with the hope of a positive decision regarding its application.