OEM partnerships dominate Umeå grad show


Many students showed off collaborative projects supported by the likes of Toyota, Nio and Mini

The urgency of the Ume river that flows beside the Umeå Institute of Design (UID) feels like a metaphor for how its students approach design. Without getting too philosophical, there is a clear intent and destination. Speaking at the school’s 2023 graduate show this week, one senior lecturer went as far to say that the role of a designer is not about endless learning but prototyping and ‘doing’.

Nestled toward the tip of Northern Sweden and in many ways isolated from surrounding areas (the local airport generally flies only to Stockholm), Umeå seems an unlikely spot for one of the world’s top design schools. That’s clearly done nothing to hinder its reputation and today it boasts the luxury of being highly selective with who gets in; this year’s Transportation Design course counts just eight members. That’s not for lack of applications, with hundreds coming in from around the world. “Those that do get on the course receive a lot of attention,” says Demian Horst, head of the UID and long-time servant to the school. 

CDN was invited along to this year’s graduate show to learn more about the school, this year’s course and what the organisers expect from the next generation of design talent. In many cases, students were…

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