The Nokia Design archive – exploring unseen concepts of design and opportunities of design-driven transformation and change 

This project investigates the role of design within Nokia in 1995-2015 by utilising a globally unique and previously unseen archive. The archive, consisting of thousands of process models, documents, videos, and concepts, offers a rare chance to gain a deeper understanding of design as a discursive tool for envisioning futures and impacting decision-making.

In due time, the Nokia Design Archive will be made into an open online database. The archival material, which has been donated to Aalto University, can be used freely for research and education purposes. Access to previously confidential company documents creates a fascinating image of the design process and provides a more nuanced understanding of the role that technology has been designed to take in our lives.

Our research outputs will focus on how design is used within large corporations, and on the values and processes behind the development of technology products. In the global consciousness, the history of technological development in the 20th century is dominated by the Silicon Valley myth. Researching Nokia offers an alternative history proving that even in a remote place like Finland (and the global network of Nokia design studios around the world), it is possible to create world-altering technological innovations. 

In addition to learning about how design was used to generate change, the lens of design history allows us to explore Nokia as it truly was: a societal, cultural and technological phenomenon that changed everyday lives on a global scale.

The Nokia Design Archive project is funded by the Finnish Academy. 

Anna Valtonen and Kari Kääriäinen unboxing models and mockups from the Nokia Design Archive at Aalto University, September 2021.

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