Beauty minds -- our Professore, Matti Rautiola, called himself and fellow professor Pentti Kareoja this when describing their approach to architecture as well as to architectural education. We have been lucky to have an extraordinary cultural experience in Helsinki so far -- but not only in terms of the art and architecture we've been exposed to. More important has been our growing education in the Finnish way of making, seeing, appreciating, and sharing -- and it is unlike any other cultural approach to art and architecture I have come across.
Above is us at the "Snotel" bar (Snow Hotel in the Finnish accent) with Professor Matti Rautiola.
The "beauty mind" approach is to focus on the positive -- to try to understand the essence or path of an idea and then to pursue it. Rather than emphasizing criticism, Matti and Pentti believe that intellectual rigor can come by really diving into and exploring those aspects of our ideas that really tick. They also place priority on not ever telling us or even showing us what to do, but rather they listen to our ideas and then engage in a dialogue about the potential these ideas contain. What this cultivates is calm confidence and clarity because it places the responsibility for decision making as well as the design process in the hands of the student.
This approach has also been apparent in the weekly lecture series Aalto University hosts, in which practicing architects visit to speak about their work. Each has discussed their work with a reassurance free from the need for anxious justification and with exquisite intentionality. This is the Finnish way -- a reassuring straightforwardness that seeks truth and beauty and assumes they can be found by following the light, rather than needing to extricate them from darkness.
We are two MArch students from Washington University St Louis who are traveling for a semester abroad to Helsinki, the arctic circle, and Baltic region. Helsinki is currently the 2012 design capital and we are getting to participate in extensive design related seminars and events that we wish to blog about. We are interested in using this blog to share/explore ideas and experiences about design, art, architecture and culture as we experience it.