City Sets

Sep 2012

City Sets 2010-2012

City Sets was a collaborative design education and research project initiated in 2010 by Marja Seliger and Mika ‘Lumi’ Tuomola with Aalto Media Factory funding. City Sets project aimed to produce and exhibit art and design work and to publish research outcomes especially during the World Design Capital year 2012 Helsinki.

City Sets uses to the metaphor ‘city as stage’ in order to investigate critically the design elements, visual languages and narratives embedded in cities.
Narratives define people by defining their roles on stage. Design has multidimensional impact and it can help to inform people about their space and rules (e.g. street and traffic signs), to identify places and events (e.g. shops, restaurants, exhibitions), to persuade people to change their behaviour (e.g. advertisements and promotions) and to tell stories about past, present and future (e.g. monuments, building plots and people’s interaction in an urban space). These dimensions together with architecture create the identity of a city, it’s ‘big story’.

City Sets project activities combined multidisciplinary workshops, international seminars, art and design productions, exhibitions and building an on-line media-player. The project time schedule and activities were divided into two phases:
Phase 1: City Sets – Visual Urban Identities, August 2010 – May 2011
Phase 2: City Sets – Discover the Design, WDC 2012 Helsinki project, June 2011 – December 2012


City Sets – Visual Urban Identities

  • City Sets Media Player pilot version was developed and tested.
  • City Sets – Visual Urban Identities workshop was arranged for Aalto University students in architecture, graphic design and new media, 8–16 November, 2010.
  • The workshop was followed by an international kick-off seminar, 15–16 November, 2010. The seminar gathered together about 100 participants.
  • City Sets – Visual Urban Identities paper written by Marja Seliger and Mika ‘Lumi’ Tuomola was presented in SIEF (International Society for Ethnology and Folklore) conference People Make Places: Ways of Feeling the World, in Lisbon, 17–21 April 2011. The article is published in the conference proceedings, in the panel Urban Scenes and Cosmopolitan Identities:
  • Dimeke workshop Kaupunki näyttämönä was arranged in Oulu, 27–28 April, 2010.


City Sets – Discover the Design – WDC 2012 Helsinki

The programme aimed to invite people to explore the city and its design with open eyes and to discover and discuss the values embedded in an urban environment. The activities combined visual research, media art and design productions, exhibitions and interactive forums within the World Design Capital Helsinki year 2012.

  • City Sets Media Player interface was redesigned to improve its usage. 
  • Two City Sets workshops were arranged in collaboration with ENSAD School Paris (Ecole nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs); in Helsinki 5–9 March and in Paris, 19–24 March, 2012
  • The workshops’ outcomes were exhibited in the Institute Finlandais (31 May –30 June) and on the RATP metro stations (31 May – 31 August) on metro line 14 in Paris.
  • Works of Aalto DA students and media artists were exhibited in Paris as part of the 1-2-3 Helsinki: Design en Seine WDC 2012 Helsinki event and the Paris designer’s Day programme.
  • Cities as Sets: Narrative Eye to Urban Design - A course case study in combining art, design and media paper written by Marja Seliger and Mika ‘Lumi’ Tuomola was presented in Cumulus "Northern World Mandate" Helsinki Conference 24-26 May 2012.
  • City Sets & Media Facades, an international Seminar on Urban Media was arranged in collaboration with m-cult, on 23-24 August 2012.


City Sets Team

Leaders: Marja Seliger, Mika ‘Lumi’ Tuomola

Producers: Young-ae Hahn, Tania Rodriguez, Virpi Vihervuori

Programmers: Teemu Korpilahti, Palash Mukhopadhyay

Workshop participants in November 2010 Helsinki: Mina Arko, Benjamin Dromey, Satoko Hinomizu, Jian Li, Susanne Miessner, Heikki Nuutinen, Anna Nyyssönen, Teresa Winter 

Workshop participants in March 2012 Helsinki: Ursula Heinikoski, Mari Huhtanen, Päivi Keränen, Anu Koski, Helinä Kuusela, Louise Lazzari, Paula Lehtonen, Constance Marraud des Grotes, Nina Martin, Camille Pichon, Johanna Rotko, Heidi Uppa 

Workshop participants in March 2012 Paris: Kinky Cheung, Anais Di Luccio, Gregory Gilles, Constance Marraud-des-Grottes Camille Pichon, Ciryl Quenet, Melissa Raffin, Sebastien Tardif, Charlotte Thon, Cedric Tomissi, Mathilde Vello