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“Through PatternLab you can experience what it’s like to work as a professional freelance designer. It’s the perfect opportunity to test your ideas and get feedback from real clients.”

Pattern Lab Alumna Anu Saari

PatternLab is a master’s level minor study program at Aalto University of Arts, Design and Arhitecture in Helsinki, Finland. The project has an impressive and successful history of 20 years, and a number of today’s top textile and surface designers in Finland are PatternLab alumni. Through an expanding network of international students, PatternLab alumni can now be found around the world, working in various tasks in the design industry and business.

PatternLab is a year-long study project. The project was founded in 1999 by former Dean of Aalto ARTS, Emeritus Professor Helena Hyvönen. It has since been further developed and supervised by Professor of textile design Maarit Salolainen (2002–2008, 2014–present) and Pirjo Kääriäinen (2008–2014). The professors involved in the project are highly experienced, having all served as design directors in the industry. Lecturer Maija Fagerlund, herself a PatternLab alumni, has been tutoring PatternLab students since 2007.

The aim of PatternLab is to create a large, professional surface design collection. During the year-long project, students learn how to design and coordinate surface designs for various application areas (e.g. prints for fashion and interiors, jacquards, tablewear etc.). Learning how to work as a team and creating commercial designs in a business environment for international industry clients helps in the transition from MA studies to professional working life. The designs are promoted at key industry fairs and directly to customers all around the world. During the past years, PatternLab teams have sold hundreds of patterns to a large number of companies in industries such as fashion, textile, paper products, interiors, and so on.

The PatternLab 21 project is supervised by Professor Maarit Salolainen and Tiina Paavilainen.

Maarit Salolainen
PatternLab Brand Founder and Leader 02–08
PatternLab Advisor 08–14
PatternLab Leader 14–present
Pirjo Kääriäinen
PatternLab Leader 0814
Helena Hyvönen
Surface Design Sales Project Founder, 99
Maija Fagerlund
PatternLab Supervisor 07–present
Tiina Paavilainen
PatternLab Supervisor 20–present

Pattern Lab Supervisors 1999–2020: Prof. Maarit Salolainen, Prof. Pirjo Kääriäinen, Prof. Helena Hyvönen, Lecturer Maija Fagerlund and Tiina Paavilainen.

“The recipe for success is not just being a great designer, but also mastering teamwork, branding, communications, marketing and sales. PatternLab is as real as it can get during studies.”

PatternLab Leader Maarit Salolainen

“This kind of ‘real-life training’ gave us precious knowledge and courage for the future. Being in contact with different companies and visiting them in Finland, Sweden, and Paris was one of the best things about PatternLab.”

PatternLab Alumna Reeta Ek

“PatternLab is an important chance to hear and learn about the needs and requirements of the industry that buys surface design. PatternLab gave me the boost I needed to make surface design my profession.”

PatternLab Alumna Teija Puranen

Over the years, PatternLab has produced thousands of designs, and helped many young designers make their first business contacts. Many PatternLab alumni have gone on to have highly successful careers as in-house designers, freelancers, managers, and design directors in the textile and fashion industries. Some former groups are still working together even today, having formed their own independent design collectives.