Yrjö Sotamaa receives the Golden Estlander Medal


Professor Yrjö Sotamaa from Aalto University has been awarded the Golden Estlander Medal 2017 by Design Forum Finland.

Sotamaa's contribution to the raising of new generations of designers is significant. The golden, silver or bronze Estlander Medal can be awarded to persons who have deepened the interaction of design culture with Finnish business and industry in significant ways. The criteria of this distinction underline efforts for promoting the uses of design in business and industry. First ones to receive the medal were Antti Nurmesniemi and Timo Sarpaneva. The medal is designed by artist Tero Laaksonen.

“The prize is of particular importance to me, because without C.G.Estlander there would be no School of Arts, Design and Architecture, and thus neither Aalto University. Also the award being given by an organisation representing business and the entire design sector, who we are educating cutting-edge experts for, this is one of the most valuable awards in Finnish design field", Sotamaa rejoices. He says the award is also an acknowledgement to all the great people with whom he has worked, and been given the opportunity to develop the School of Arts, Design and Architecture to one of the best schools in the world.

Sotamaa (born 1942) was the rector of the School of Arts, Design and Architecture 1986–2008. During the years he strongly remodelled and developed the school, and it became one of the world's leading design schools. Sotamaa held the professorship of Design Innovation at Aalto University 2008–2010. Since then, he has been working as a  professor at the Tongji University in China. He is an interior architect.

China and international connections

Nowadays, Sotamaa is busy in China developing the design education there, which he says has opened new perspective to the country and its culture. In the near future, he will be meeting leaders of the world's top design and art universities, as well as attend an international panel organized by the top Chinese art university, the China Academy of Art, in Beijing in spring.

“I have received an invitation to cutting-edge panel, which includes philosophers, curators, media researchers, art historians, art critics, cultural activists and design champions from Europe, United States and Asia. It’s going to be an interesting crowd and an opportunity to see how future of education in art and design is discussed in the best art universities in China", says Sotamaa.

Finland’s Independence Day will be the culmination of Sino Finnish 100 Challenge programme, which is the main event of Finland’s centennial in China. Sotama has been actively planning and implementing the programme.

"Now I also have a lot more time for theater, exhibitions, good concerts, opera and long discussions with friends and grandchildren," says Sotamaa.