Art meets Smart at Slush 2018

Art meets Smart at Slush 2018

Wärtsilä’s innovative concept of lifeboats for buildings – a product that should never see the light of day – made heads turn at Helsinki’s most high-profile, start-up event Slush 2018. It also gave two art students an opportunity to be part of producing and executing a big corporate advertising campaign. Here’s a look at their experience.

Text: Alexander Farnsworth Photo: Wärtsilä

29-year-old Sanni Siira and 30-year old Lavinia Nuvola, both students from Aalto University School of Arts, Design, and Architecture in Espoo, Finland, couldn’t have asked for a better parting gift from 2018. Their creative ideas were featured and promoted to support Wärtsilä’s participation in Slush 2018 – an event that drew more than 3,100 start-ups, 1,800 investors, and 650 journalists from over 130 countries.

Their brief was simple – come up with a quirky and creative interpretation of Wärtsilä’s futuristic innovation of ‘lifeboats for buildings’.

But to come up with an interpretation, the students first had to get to the root of the idea of lifeboats for buildings. Siira and Nuvola realised that the idea stemmed from Wärtsilä’s core message for Slush 2018 – the double call to action ‘Let’s change the course of the future’ based on the company’s stated purpose to ‘enable sustainable societies with smart technology’. Wärtsilä designed a disruptive product that, quite frankly, it hoped would ‘never see the light of day’. These lifeboats would hang, complete with divots, outside apartments like fire escapes, should the water level rise due to global warming. It was, by all means, a provocative idea.

Designed by Wärtsilä ship design with Wärtsilä’s existing smart technologies such as auto-docking, dynamic positioning, and wireless charging, the autonomous lifeboat would be powered by 100% renewables, like synthetic renewable fuels and solar energy. Siira and Nuvola knew right then that in order to come up with something stunning, they had to think in terms of energy, its new forms, and sustainability.

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Sanni Siira.

Tech meets creativity

“It was an interesting challenge to find something visually strong and befitting the theme,” admits Siira, who found her answer in the project she called ‘The Bond’. Siira’s project was essentially just photographs of the strands of her twin sister’s hairs clicked with a large format camera. She made them look like filaments of energy.

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Sanni Siira's project was called The Bond.

Siira produced a series of eight, colourful, dramatic and abstract photos, which symbolised this theme. These were used as background images at a side event held by Wärtsilä with partners like Tieto, Fortum, ST1 and Demos Helsinki at Slush 2018.

Meanwhile, Nuvola’s thesis about the role of artistic processes as a driver for growth in the innovation start-up sector fuelled her creativity. She came up with three quirky consumer ads for the lifeboats for buildings by linking them to Wärtsilä’s core smart technology - auto-docking, wireless charging, and dynamic positioning - and adding small visceral doodles. For example, the concept of dynamic positioning had a doodle of a baby superimposed with the word bubble, “SHHH!***.” These videos were then shared across Wärtsilä’s different social media feeds.Click here to view Nuvola’s work.

As a reward for their efforts, Wärtsilä gave the duo tickets to Slush to experience the event.

“It was an honour for me to work with such a fast-paced and supportive company like Wärtsilä,” says a visibly excited Siira. “We had such inspiring discussions about work. The start-up scene at Slush 2018 was also very dynamic, eye-opening and rewarding,” she adds, hoping she would get more opportunities to be part of such rewarding corporate commissions.

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Lavinia Nuvola.

Young energy for synergy

“Working with Siira and Nuvola brought a breath of fresh air to our Slush campaign and it was fruitful to have young non-corporate minds to chip in with their unique ideas,” says Mikaela Terhi, Manager, Digital Communications, Wärtsilä, who was the creative project manager for the campaign.

Calling the two young students Wärtsilä’s “surprising partners”, Terhi admits that working with artists can elevate a campaign to a whole new level. Stressing on the need for art and businesses to collaborate more,” she lauded students’ dedication, enthusiasm, and focus on the big picture. “It was refreshing and joyful to have them in our creative project team, building a better world and raising awareness of climate change together.”

Ultimately, as Terhi sums it up, the joint project proved to the start-up world that together, we are stronger.

You may also be interested in this:

After Slush comes the flood, will we need lifeboats for buildings?

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