CHEMARTS is a long-term strategic collaboration between two Aalto University schools, The School of Chemical Engineering (CHEM) and The School of Arts, Design and Architecture (ARTS). The schools merged their forces with the aim to invent new ways to harness wood and cellulose. The idea is to research the performance and design of advanced cellulosic materials for innovative uses.

The main objective is to inspire students and researchers to explore biomaterials together and to create new concepts for the future use of cellulose and other biomaterials. CHEMARTS consists of various actions, such as multidisciplinary study courses, summer projects for Masters’ students and externally funded research projects.

CHEMARTS at Dutch Design Week Eindhoven (DDW) 22-30 October 2022

By | Exhibitions, News
Where: Strijp-S area, Klokgebouw | Hall 3, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
When: 22-30 October 2022

The exhibition consists of the CHEMARTS Cookbook and six experimental, bio-based material projects by Aalto University CHEMARTS students and alumni. The exhibition is curated by Anna van der Lei and Pirjo Kääriäinen. 

Designers from participating teams:

Sonja Dallyn, Aalto ARTS

Anastasiya Yurievna Grachova, exchange student at Aalto ARTS 

Iines Jakovlev, Aalto ARTS

Pia Johansson, Aalto ARTS 

Megan McGlynn, Artist & CHEMARTS alumna 

Satu Paavonsalo, Aalto ARTS

Irene Purasachit, Designer & CHEMARTS alumna

Valentin Schwarz, Aalto ARTS

More information of CHEMARTS and the exhibition at DDW:
Pirjo Kääriäinen / +358 50 381 0217
Anna van der Lei  /

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On the left: Hand holding a violet bioslime. On the right violet cellulose crumbs spread on a green paper.

CHEMARTS 10 years: Materialising the future – Materiaaleja tulevaisuuteen 8.-29.9.2021

By | Exhibitions, News
Where: Aalto University Campus, Väre 1st floor, FE lobby
When: 8.-29.9.2021

Materialising the Future – CHEMARTS 10 years exhibition is inspired by often asked questions related to bio-based materials, such as Why to recycle bio-based materials? Can bio-based materials replace plastics? Does it make sense to use trees as materials? These questions are addressed by 10 displays showing some fascinating samples of student work from the past years. The exhibition also includes photographs and publications from the past years visualising the evolution of CHEMARTS from the first idea in the autumn 2011 into various activities and research projects going on today. Tiny seeds of inspiration have grown into a versatile and international community of material enthusiasts.

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Datemats: Materialising the Future: designing with Emerging Materials & Technologies 9 Sep 2021

By | Blog, News

Where: Online via Zoom
When: 9 September 2021

During this year’s edition of Milan and Helsinki Design Week, the Datemats project promotes an online event where its experts in designing for and with Emerging Materials and Technologies (EM&Ts) illustrate their methodologies and offer an insight into their material world. The event is open to practitioners and students in the fields of architecture, engineering and design.

Please register to the event.

Person behind a white protective fabric in a forest

SBARK – Shield of Spruce in Biodesign Challenge 2020

By | News, Student Blog posts
Where: Online presentation 

When: 16.6.2020 10:00-10:15 am (Eastern Standard Time)

SBARK – Shield of Spruce is a project where spruce bark’s protective compounds are used to create an enhanced fabric. Spruce bark is exceptional in a range of trees because of its phenolic compounds, such as stilbenes, which provide protection against both UV-radiation and microbes.

By extracting protective compounds from bark and embedding them into man-made cellulose fibers, we answer the demands of the changing world in a sustainable way with lightweight, UV-protective and antibacterial fabric for different kinds of applications.

As the end result we present a speculative outcome, SBARK fabric, where the precious materials from spruce are transformed to function as a protection for humans.

Antimicrobial and UV-protective properties are generally added to fabrics to protect human users and prolong the life of textiles. Those properties are often achieved by applying heavy metal nanoparticles to fabrics, which are causing a threat towards water security as a heavy metal pollution.

Trend forecasts indicate consumers are going to demand more hygiene and personal protection from materials and products in a world after the coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, we wanted to find a local, natural and sustainable alternative for heavy metal nanoparticles.

Natural stilbenes are also strong blockers of UV radiation. Studies have shown these compounds to be comparable to commercial sunscreens in their UV absorptive capacity. This embedding of SBARK extract enables the creation of lightweight and breathable UV protective clothing for warm climates: shielding its user from harmful rays, as well as preserving vibrant colors and fiber integrity.

Around 70% of Finland’s land area is covered by forests. Norway spruce (Picea abies) is the second common tree in Finland and its stemwood is used in the forest industry to make timber, wood products and pulp. A single mill site in Finland may produce more than 50,000 tons of pure spruce bark in a year, which is now mostly used just to produce energy despite bark’s valuable compounds. Our team explored how to utilize this side stream in a more effective way.

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Finland Prize awarded to Aalto CHEMARTS professor, designer Pirjo Kääriäinen

By | News

What: Finland Prize (Suomi-palkinto) is the annual cultural award conferred by the Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland

2019 the Ministry of Education and Culture has awarded the Finland Prize to nine artists and collectives who have shown exceptional accomplishment in recent times.

Among this year’s prize recipients were two persons from Aalto University: Professor of Practice of Design driven fibre innovation Pirjo Kääriäinen and Aalto ARTS alumna, photographer, filmmaker and activist Marja Helander.

Pirjo Kääriäinen has been facilitating interdisciplinary CHEMARTS collaboration between the School of Arts, Design and Architecture and the School of Chemical Engineering since 2011. CHEMARTS aims at inspiring students and researchers to explore biomaterials together, and to create new concepts for the future use of plant-based materials. There are several ongoing research projects on bio-based materials, where the team explores design driven technology development processes in materials research, and creates future oriented concepts, applications and business seeds for the more sustainable world of materials.

”I’m truly grateful and appreciate this award. I want to acknowledge also all the great people and organizations that I have had a chance to work with in different times during my career – I never work alone, always with others,” says Pirjo Kääriäinen.

Read the full story at Aalto University website.


Muotoilija, professori Pirjo Kääriäiselle Suomi-palkinto

Tiede- ja kulttuuriministeri Hanna Kosonen on palkinnut yhdeksän ansioitunutta taiteilijaa ja yhteisöä Suomi-palkinnoilla.

Palkinnon sai Taiteiden ja suunnittelun korkeakoulun työelämäprofessori, muotoilija Pirjo Kääriäinen, joka on 2010-luvun alusta lähtien ollut ratkaisevassa asemassa pohdittaessa, tutkittaessa ja koeteltaessa keinoja uudistaa tekstiilien materiaalipohjaa, siirtäen sitä kohti kestävän kehityksen ja kiertotalouden periaatteita ja käytäntöjä. Samalla on ollut tavoitteena kotimaisten materiaalien nykyistä laajempi hyödyntäminen.

Kääriäinen on ollut keskeinen tekijä siinä Aalto-yliopiston taiteiden ja suunnittelun sekä saman yliopiston Kemian tekniikan korkeakoulun CHEMARTS-yhteistyössä, joka johti selluloosapohjaiseen tekstiili-innovaatioon. Parhaillaan Kääriäinen ja hänen yhteistyökumppaninsa ovat laajentaneet muotoilu- ja taidelähtöistä teknologiankehittämistään yleisemminkin bio- ja kasvipohjaisiin materiaaleihin.

”Olen todella iloinen tästä tunnustuksesta, arvostan sitä todella paljon. Haluan kuitenkin nostaa esiin kaikki ne hienot ihmiset ja yhteisöt joiden kanssa olen saanut tehdä työtä elämäni eri vaiheissa – en tee koskaan työtä yksin, vaan aina yhdessä muiden kanssa”, sanoo Pirjo Kääriäinen.


Lue koko teksti Aalto-yliopiston sivuilta.

CHEMARTS in New York 14th to 16th of Nov 2019

By | Exhibitions, News

Where: The New School, New York, NY, USA
When: 14.-15.11.2019

Professors Pirjo Kääriäinen and Tapani Vuorinen from Aalto CHEMARTS and professor Julia Lohmann from DoD have been invited to give talks at ‘Material Health: Design Frontiers’ symposium organised at The New School, New York NY 14.-15.11.2019. See program.


In collaboration with the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York FCINY, Pirjo Kääriäinen and Tapani Vuorinen will also lead a creative mini workshop with nanocellulose painting 16.11.2109 at FCINY.

CHEMARTS at Dutch Design Week Eindhoven (DDW) 19.-27.10.2019

By | Exhibitions, News
Where: Veem | Floor 3 | Strijp-S | Torenallee 80, 5617 BE Eindhoven, The Netherlands
When: 19.-27.10.2019

Aalto University CHEMARTS is presented for the first time at DDW, the most important international design event showcasing new material-related projects. The CHEMARTS exhibition consist of six concepts that are the result of research conducted into new wood- and cellulose-based materials by students, researchers, lecturers and professors from Aalto University. The exhibited projects are all-cellulose composites with dyers’ Woad, Ioncell textile fibre, structural colour, tomato waste, biodegradable 3D shapes, and nanocellulose mixed with feathers. CHEMARTS has been selected for DDW Bio-design route, and professor Pirjo Kääriäinen will give a talk at DDW talks on 23.10.

In circular economy materials are not only reused or recycled; they are merely stored in products, and used again and again. When designers and scientists join forces already in early stages of materials research, new plant-based materials can be designed and developed for these closed-loop systems. 

CHEMARTS is based on continuous and inspiring collaboration between design, fashion and scientific material research at the Aalto University, Finland, since 2012.

Designers from participating teams:

Anna van der Lei & Anna-Mari Leppisaari : Layers of Blue 

Anna Semi : Knits from Wood
Megan McGlynn : In Tension
Meri-Tuuli Porras : To-Matter
Noora Yau : Shimmering Wood
Sini West : Plumology

More information of CHEMARTS and exhibition at Veem:
Pirjo Kääriäinen / +358 50 381 0217
Anna van der Lei  /
Anna-Mari Leppisaari /

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EXHIBITION: ChemArtsing with Bio-based Materials – Results from Summer School 2019, 4.-26.9.2019

By | Exhibitions, News
Where: Aalto University, Harald Herlin Learning Centre (Otaniementie 9), Espoo, Finland, as a part of Helsinki Design Week Designs for a Cooler Planet event.
When: 5.-26.9.2019, Mon-Thu 8am to 9pm, Fri 8am to 8pm, Sat 10am to 3pm. (Vernissage 4.9. 5pm)
Free entry

The aim of CHEMARTS is to inspire designers and material researchers to explore bio-based materials for novel material solutions and their innovative applications. The CHEMARTS philosophy is based on sustainability, with the focus being on renewable raw materials, the utilization of side streams and waste, and the creation of biodegradable and/or recyclable materials.

The interdisciplinary CHEMARTS Summer School has been organized since 2012 for Aalto University students. The course focuses on hands-on material experimentations, and students are encouraged to explore topics they are personally interested in. As part of the course, the results are annually documented in a catalogue and displayed in an exhibition designed by the participants.

This year, the overall theme of the Summer School was ‘Value from plant residues’. Some students worked within the theme; some decided to have other approaches. This exhibition showcases the student’s ideas, processes and the most interesting experiments.

CHEMARTS, established in 2012, is a strategic collaboration in education and research between the School of Arts, Design and Architecture and the School of Chemical Engineering.

* During September, Aalto University’s unique Designs for a Cooler Planet exhibition ensemble will introduce solutions that support more sustainable lifestyles. Otaniemi galleries present ten multidisciplinary exhibitions at which we can learn about future cruisers, furniture made of construction waste, ecological textiles, products made of new materials, participatory development of a city district as well as Finland’s exhibition from the Venice Biennial curated by Aalto.*



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Cover photos: Eeva Suorlahti