This weekend, some of the sharpest minds in design are set to descend upon the city of Jyväskylä in Finland to take part in the 8th International Alvar Aalto Design Seminar; a two-day pow-wow intended to spark critical discussion on current international design.

Design luminaries Jonas Bohlin, Richard Hutten, Jouko Järvisalo, Max Lamb, Hans Lensvelt, Cecilie Manz, Kaoru Mende, Päivi Meuronen and Aimo Katajamäki, Fien Muller and Hannes Van Severen, and Johanna Vuorio make up the roll call of 12 speakers who will be pondering this year’s theme of MAXIMAL I MINIMAL.

‘The words "maximal" and "minimal" are in every designer’s vocabulary, at least in spirit,’ explains the event’s founder, designer and interior architect Simo Heikkilä. ‘In their day-to-day work designers have to choose between two options: does the task require a minimal approach or would a maximal one be attractive? Will people be happy or downright unhappy when using my design? Is there still a place for art in my design, or should I give in to the WOW factor and commercialism? Does my design have a long lifespan or will it simply become yet more unwieldy waste? Do I work globally or locally, in a maximal or minimal manner?'

In addition to the discussion, this year’s event will showcase the thought-provoking results of a collaboration that took place earlier this year. Tasked with designing a vertical, floor-standing bookshelf to challenge and overturn perceptions of what a shelf can be, the event’s 12 speakers worked with students at Finland’s arts and crafts institutes to manufacture their prototypes, which will be unveiled in a dedicated exhibition at the seminar.