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Finnish design luminary honoured in China

The accolade highlights Sotamaa’s remarkable career and influence in the field of design.

Aalto University

Yrjö Sotamaa has been awarded Shanghai’s top design prize in recognition of his lifetime contributions to the world of design.

Sotamaa, formerly the president of the Helsinki School of Art and Design and a recipient of Shanghai’s Magnolia Award, was honoured with the prestigious Frontier Design Prize, organised by the Design Innovation Institute of Shanghai.

“I believe this precious award not only recognises my personal work but also acknowledges the design and creative community I belong to,” Sotamaa said.

“Over the years, I have had the privilege of working with them in Shanghai and around the world,” he continued.

Sotamaa’s career has been dedicated to pushing the boundaries of global design and innovation education. During his tenure as president of the Helsinki School of Art and Design, Sotamaa not only elevated it to one of the top design schools in the Nordic region but also successfully integrated design into Finland’s national innovation system. He played a pivotal role in the foundation of Finland’s Aalto University, and the university’s success is seen in regularly featuring in global university rankings. Furthermore, Sotamaa was integral in the creation and management of the international organisation of design universities, Cumulus.

The 130 000-euro award was bestowed upon Sotamaa in September.


Sotamaa lived in Shanghai between 2009 and 2014 and developed the Tongji Design University together with an international team.

The 130 000-euro Frontier Design Prize is an international non-profit design award recognising visionary and pioneering design efforts worldwide. The award was conferred by an international jury consisting of 20 members.

By: James O’Sullivan