Interplay of Cultures Studio: Sámi. Contemplating Northern Indigenous Cultures in Present Global Challenges

Nathanael Larsson (Editor), Franziska Dalheimer, Gaspard de Marmol, Kathleen Diéme, Astria Excell, Saija Hollmen, Jinook Hwang, Matti Jänkälä, Valtteri Kaarlamo, Akileia Krohn, Nathanael Larsson, Maria Luice Grayston, Louise Lecerf, Xinuan Li, Ida Lähdesmäki, Petra Minkkinen, Raisa Mäkinen, Sirena Nieminen, Taru Niskanen, Patricia OlaortuaMeeri Pitkänen, Katherine Romero, Emma Savela, Maiju Suomi, Moritz Schineis, Iiris Uusi-Kilponen

Research output: Book/ReportAnthologyScientificpeer-review


The land of the Sámi, called the Sápmi, spreads over the northern areas of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. As the only indigenous people in Europe, the Sámi have lived a nomadic life pursuing their traditional livelihoods. These continuous traditions have allowed them to develop a balance with nature unlike any other contemporary people in Europe.

When the Aalto WiTLAB Interplay of Cultures Studio embarked on an exploration of the Sámi culture in spring 2021, we were humbled to realize how little we knew of the people that had inhabited the northern areas of Finnish Lapland for over 3000 years, and how much there was to learn. The studio instructions allowed multiple approaches, scales and perspectives, which is manifested in the variety of the completed projects. They grew into a rich and complex multitude, reflecting the challenging condition of being a designer, an architect and a human being in face of a new cultural setting.

This publication presents the projects of 22 students, reflecting questions such as “How would I even start designing something from my privileged position, or use cultural inspirations without being guilty of cultural appropriation? How much have I thought of knowing something, that I don’t actually know? Or that I’m not even aware of not knowing? And how do I deal with the painful notion that knowing is not understanding?”
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEspoo
Number of pages109
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-64-0572-8
Publication statusPublished - 2021
MoE publication typeC2 Edited book, conference proceedings or special issue of a journal

Publication series

NameAalto University publication series ART + DESIGN + ARCHITECTURE
PublisherAalto University
ISSN (Electronic)1799-4861


  • interplay of cultures
  • humanitarian architecture and development
  • global sustainability


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