Get into Aalto University – See how Fabian did it!

Oct 30 / Elina
Fabian, a talented aspiring industrial designer from Slovenia, embarked on an incredible journey from the School of Design and Photography in Ljubljana to Aalto University in Finland. 

How to get into Aalto University

Fabian’s journey to Aalto began during his high school final year. Having spent four enriching years studying industrial design at the School of Design and Photography, Fabian wanted to explore new horizons. The idea of studying abroad had always seemed appealing to him. When searching for universities abroad, Aalto University in Finland caught his attention. However, considering what a high-demand University Aalto is, he understood that he needed to take it seriously and prepare for the preliminary assignments in advance.

Fabian came across Scandinavian Design School (SDS) through an advertisement but missed the first application deadline for the Aalto University preparation course. Luckily, SDS announced new application dates, and he enrolled in the preparatory course offered by SDS.

Studying at Scandinavian Design School

Fabian’s experience at SDS highlighted a significant shift in his approach to design. His previous education emphasized asking questions to understand a client’s needs, but SDS encouraged him to break free from traditional boundaries. It was less about the product itself and more about reimagining solutions with an innovative twist.

“At my previous school, where I studied industrial design, the teaching was something like this: when you as a designer are facing a problem, you need to ask as many questions about the problem to get a sense of who this client is, where is this product used, what already is out there and so on. Meanwhile, the SDS course was much more about understanding the product and getting a new spin on the solution.”
He learned that perfectionism could hinder creativity and waste valuable time. SDS challenged him to embrace imperfection and experiment boldly with his ideas. The fast-paced assignments forced him to explore his initial ideas and iterate rapidly, resulting in fresh and unexpected outcomes.

“We had this small two-minute quick task that we would do in the middle of the lesson. I remember specifically when the teacher said to draw the first thing that comes to your mind or the craziest thing that comes to your mind when she said – space divider. That was the moment when you see how differently we think. We got everything from an actual wall/divider to a space wizard dividing the universe in half. It was kind of, “Oh wait, it doesn’t have to be literally a space divider. You can just spin it and go completely the other way.”

Before SDS, Fabian considered himself detail-oriented, leaning towards overcomplicating his designs. The course helped him to shed this approach, emphasizing the coherence of the entire design rather than perfection in isolated components. As he embraced this mindset shift, he grew more confident in his ideas and their potential to evolve.
“I used to stick with what I knew I would do well, especially in situations like these preliminary assignments where many things are on the line. Before, I definitely wouldn’t try something extra. Meanwhile, after the course, I was much more confident in my ideas and had a lot more trust in myself. I familiarized myself with not diving into details as much. However, it was not the easiest. I felt more relaxed and understood that I do not need to worry much about the details as long as the whole thing functions together.”

“This course gave me the confidence I needed for the preliminary assignments.”

Armed with a new arsenal of creative techniques, Fabian felt confident as he prepared to start the Aalto University application process. His journey underscores the importance of embracing diverse perspectives, experimenting fearlessly, and challenging one’s creative limits. Fabian’s experience is a reminder that the journey of a designer is marked not only by what is taught but also by the unique paths of exploration one chooses to traverse.

SDS Teacher’s analysis of Fabian’s preliminary assignment:

“Fabian’s idea of the smallest possible solution to the social initiative as a point, a period, is poignant and unique. He approached the assignment from a philosophical perspective but showed a lot of scientific examples in his mood board, and for the public space installation, he created something very solid but at the same time beautiful, bringing the idea of his manifesto to a concrete and understandable level in its scale. The idea in the installation, where a human is facing the dimensions of a fractal, one and infinite, mirrors the idea of us facing the limits of human lifespan and thinking.

When I saw the final outcome of our seminar after the Aalto deadline, it felt like a perfect ending point (pun intended) for the seminar. After all the different approaches, Fabian’s philosophical and poetic version crystallised what was important in the assignment:  To ideate, research, organise and communicate your idea and stand boldly behind it in the visual presentation. 

Design schools are looking for students who dare to think differently, adopt new perspectives, explore new ideas and sometimes also be willing to take risks to create something new. Fabian’s assignment shows all this, but also the ability to produce an interesting presentation of his thought process that communicates his technical skills and potential as a visual communication designer.”

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