First International Clay Pit workshop at Aalto University


The experimental workshop is a European co-operation and was organised in connection to the launching of a new Aalto Contemporary Design Master's Programme.

The interactive Clay Pit workshop was held at the sculpture workshop on the snowy Otaniemi campus for a group of 15 students and staff members of University of Art and Design Offenbach, Germany. The workshop has been partly developed at Aalto ARTS and it was organised for the first time at Aalto University last Tuesday, 13 February.

“The participants enjoyed the possibility to throw themselves into a process of experimentation with the material without having to think about the outcome or results. They explored with the material in its various stages of transition using oversized tools and different spaces and surfaces”, tells Research Assistant Minerva Juolahti from the Department of Design at Aalto University.

The aim was to play and learn with clay, but also to look at the material’s qualities and how they are used, as well as the experiences of the participants on how they connect with the material. Data has been collected from the workshop experiences and the Clay Pit concept has been developed further. A paper that discusses the workshop will be presented at the Restating Clay conference in the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) at York Art Gallery (UK) in March 2018. The Clay Pit workshop has also been shortlisted for the Best Family Event award of the Arts Council of England.

The Clay Pit was first launched during the British Ceramics Biennial (BCB) festival 2017 in Stoke-on-Trent where it hosted over 4000 participants. The workshop has been developed in a cooperation between community and engagement programme manager Dena Bagi from BCB and doctoral candidate Priska Falin from Empirica research group of Aalto ARTS.

New Master's Programme in Contemporary Design at Aalto

The visit of the course from University of Art and Design Offenbach was hosted by a new Aalto ARTS Design Master's Programme Contemporary Design. The new programme combines the experimental processes of analog and digital design and its first students will start in autumn 2018.

The idea of the three-day-visit of the group from Offenbach was to exchange ideas on the experimental ways of teaching design. Professor Maarit Mäkelä and lecturer Anna van der Lei presented their work and the new Design Master’s Programme for the guests. Professor Markus Holzbach from the University of Art and Design Offenbach gave a presentation about his work in teaching visualization and material research at the university. The Clay Pit workshop offered the guests a great opportunity to work with an experimental ceramics process that has been partly developed at Aalto.

The Clay Pit workshop has been developed as a part of the European Ceramics and its Dimensions project, that is partly funded by the Creative Europe programme of EU. The Department of Design of Aalto ARTS is one of the partners of the project.

For more information:

Research Assistant Minerva Juolahti, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Tel. +358 40 7700 655, minerva.juolahti(at) 

The Clay Pit workshop at the BCB festival 2017

Pictures of the Clay Pit workshop at the BCB festival 2017

Information about the Ceramics and its Dimensions project:

Aalto ARTS Master’s programme in Contemporary Design