Virtual exhibition creates new possibilities

Virtual exhibitions are now created one after another. Although virtual form is the only possible way to arrange an exhibition at the moment, the outcomes are something new and innovative. This happened also at the Finnish Design Academy. 

Virtual environments have been developed at the Finnish Design Academy since last autumn – and that’s good since the Spring Forum was needed to arrange virtually due to corona pandemic. From the exhibition’s point of view the virtual environments made possible to gather student work from Helsinki and Rovaniemi. Collecting the exhibition in a short time enabled previously developed collaboration between design schools and using 3D software as part of a design process.

— Virtual exhibition unites people all around the world: it’s possible to easily implement whole new kind of collaborative exhibitions. 

Anu Kylmänen, University of Lapland

Virtual reality as an exhibition space

The works at this unique collaborative exhibition were made by the Clothing Design students from the University of Lapland and the Industrial Design students from Metropolia UAS. 

At the University of Lapland 3D software are utilised as part of clothing design since 2008. Now the 3D models were presented at the virtual exhibition for the first time – thanks to the development work made at the Finnish Design Academy. 

The works master’s students of the clothing design were accomplished in collaboration with the Lapland Hospital District and the Lapland Education centre REDU. The assignment was to design representative uniforms for the Managers of the First Aid unit.

In the centre of the project was information retrieval and analysis. The customer was tightly part of the design process: they met several times during the process and for each decision was got an approval from the customer before proceeding. Textile and fashion students from REDU executed the detailed prototypes. 

Read more about the makers


Sara Aarni
Ella Kinnunen
Maria Koivuranta
Inkeri Kylämäki
Tanja Pohjola
Veera Saarikivi


Janina Gotzev
Maarit Karttunen
Riikka Ylisirniö

Teachers responsible

Ana Nuutinen, University of Lapland
Anu Kylmänen, University of Lapland
Karoliina Laxtröm, University of Lapland
Tuija Nikkinen, REDU

Associates, Lapland Hospital District

Panu Karjalainen, Head of the First Aid Unit
Joni Tarkka, Field Manager
Antti Saari, Doctor in Charge 

Virtual reality assisting design process 

The other part of the exhibition presented the lamp designs by the second-year students from the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences made at the LOCAL LIGHT – WITH SOCIAL IMPACT course. The exhibition also presented thesis works utilising VR environments.

The assignment was to create a light inspired from the atmosphere created by a light and locality of the material selections as well as the transparency of the manufacturing process. Physical prototypes of the lamps were presented at the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair -furniture fair.

Aarre | Anni Vainio, 2020
Anni Vainio

Shape of the wooden Aarre light is inspired by the old storage chests.


  • Grada plywood
  • Aircraft plywood
  • Perspex® acryl (ISO 9001 sertified)
  • Philips Hue light string

Funky Crown | Nikita Puolakainen, 2020
Funky Crown
Nikita Puolakainen

Self-assembling feature represents the locality aspect of the light. 

A plastic base with a E27 LED light  is holding the crown-like shape. A shade is cut from a leftover canvas (VPF-Amsterdam).

Tomi Salo

Hilke table light represents the modern life with a handmade glass shade and a concrete base meanwhile giving a reflection to the future. 

Koto | Veera Tolonen, 2020
Veera Tolonen

Koto is designed so that it can be placed into any side of the lamp. User is able to affect on the direction and amount of the light by turning the lamp.  

Material: clay

From the student virtually organised exhibition requires 3D modelling the design and sending it with measurements to the person who upload the products to the virtual space. 

At the Metropolia students were able to test their products at the GLUE virtual environment during design process. With the VR controllers user they were able to pick products into their hands and test the design almost like in a real world.  

Even if looking a product at the virtual reality is an easy way to perceive the measurements of the product the students recognised that VR environment isn’t quite like a real world. When ability to touch products is missing, it’s needed to consider new ways to present the design. Anni Vainio thinks that it’s important that designer is involved building the virtual exhibition.

– It’s important that the designer is there to make sure that the end result delivers the right feeling and different elements are presented correctly. 

Will virtual replace physical? 

The industrial design students are not ready to completely forget the physical prototypes since they feel that it’s still an important part of the process. Tomi Salo considers that the producibility is still easier to take into account when making a physical prototype. 

— If the lamp would have been designed only at the VR environment and I wouldn’t have needed to produce it, maybe the end result would have been very different.

Development work of the virtual exhibition environment continues in collaboration with the Finnish Design Schools. This exhibition at the Spring Forum hopefully represented an inspirer for the new kind of collaborative exhibitions of the future that are not tied into a certain place nor time.