Design as a strategic tool for sustainability in northern and arctic contexts : case study of the arctic design concept in Finland

Research output: ThesisMaster's thesis


Globally, design is increasingly being perceived as a strategic tool for community development, well-being and innovation, both in theory and in practice. In the last few years, Finland has brought this notion to its northernmost regions through their emerging Arctic Design concept. While the concept has gained a lot of momentum, it remains, at this time, mostly Finnish-bound. Through a case study methodology, this thesis examines the ideas and visions underlying the concept of Arctic Design, and assesses its relevance for other northern regions, and in particular the province of Quebec, Canada. The data was collected through semi-directed interviews, conducted in northern Finland with leading actors involved in the concept’s strategic development. The theoretical framework employed draws on the perspectives of strategic design, sustainable design, and Nordicity (Hamelin, 1975). This study shows that design professionals are increasingly acting as key members within transdisciplinary projects and strategic areas, in order to address complex issues related to policy-making and broader societal change. This, in turn, opens up new avenues for both design practice and research in the topic of “northern design”. In particular, these findings suggest that design could play new roles in addressing northern and Arctic issues, by acknowledging local specificities (i.e. climates, socio-political frameworks, cultures) and allow the development of place-based solutions. By doing so, the province of Quebec could better use design as a catalyst of transitions towards sustainable futures among all its communities.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationMaster of Science
Awarding Institution
  • Université de Montréal
Award date17 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoEC publication typeG2 Master's thesis, polytechnic Master's thesis


  • Arctic Design
  • Strategic Design
  • Sustainable Design
  • Finnish Design
  • Nordicity
  • Quebec
  • Finland

Field of science

  • Visual arts and design
  • Multidisciplinary


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