Interview Mia Dillemuth | Pictures by Kukka-Maria Kiuru | English Editor Julie Uusinarkaus

Can you tell us about your professional background as a designer? 

It has been always clear to me that I would work in the field of art and design. After I finished my master’s, I worked in five different advertising agencies with visual communication as an art director and graphic designer from 2006 to 2016. During those years I created some comics and concepts that I still continue to work with, such as Candy Play, Blue Boots and Monogram Mandalas. I also took some time to write and illustrate a graphic novel about being a bald girl and woman, A Hundred Thousand Knots. My goal is to play more and help others play too. Now I work as an independent designer, illustrator and artist.

You host Creative Play Workshops. Some define play as having no objective or goal. In your opinion, how does playing differ from other creative activities? Why is it so important in life to play?

For me, play is experimentation. In many cases in creative processes only the mind does the work, and decision making is based on the conscious mind. Coincidences don’t have a big role. I’d like to see more “handstorming” beside brainstorming.

Let’s say somebody has defined a clear goal for a project, but no one is allowing for the possibility of something unexpected happening. I don’t see this as a very creative way of solving problems or building anything new. If you have a problem to solve or challenge to work with, you should always search for solutions using your brain and your body.

Play can create joy and more play, and it’s something you have to do yourself. In business, play as a method or play among other tasks gives new perspectives. Play releases you from routine and old habits.

In my Creative Play Workshops, people get a chance to create something unexpected, be able to experiment and be led by curiosity.

How would you define your style as an artist?

Bold, strong, graphic, comforting, joyful.

What are your favourite materials to play with?

Any material with interesting colours, shapes, surfaces, rhythm or reflections. Light, magnets, norms, typography. And candy of course – it’s awesome. You can eat the toys!

I’d love to make large installations with sound, light and chain reactions in public places that people could play with.

Multisensory seems to be a word of the day. Do you think that the rise of multisensory art and experiences has to do with the digital age that we are living in? Are we losing touch with our own senses?

We’re stuck in 90° corners. Look around you and count how many of them you see right now. Even this text is framed with them. I hope we end this boring square-based era soon and start living with more organic shapes. When I’m surrounded with too many 90° angles, I start to feel like a straight angle myself. That stifles thinking and blocks out important sensory experiences. Modern buildings: desks, screens, doors, windows, papers, chairs, all 90° degrees. Why?

We’re about to find more of what’s hiding behind the senses. I think the sense of touch will be the next megatrend. We have industries for sight, smell, hearing and taste, but on a large scale, an industry for touch is missing. By this I mean something you could do as publicly as wearing perfume, watching a movie or having a dinner in a restaurant. I have had a mould made out of my head a few times. I don’t have any hair, and it was a sensational feeling sitting with that tight, perfectly fitting helmet on my head. It just felt so good and safe. It was the same kind of satisfaction that you feel after a good meal or a good laugh. I can’t wait for digital touch screens, or whatever the medium will be, to be haptic.

What are your thoughts on the use of intuition as part of a design process? Is intuition still something that is underrated when it comes to decision making?

Working with big clients gave me good experience about schedules, processes and dynamics between people. But the funny thing is that even well-known agencies don’t encourage people to play much. Play for me is the most effective way of creating creative outcomes, the highest form of creativity. And when you play, you use your intuition almost without noticing. People were busy writing emails, having meetings and giving presentations, carefully planning everything, always in a hurry.

Great things come out of our heads, but our body and our senses need stimuli to fill our brains with new seeds for ideas. Someone else’s new movie or work isn’t always the best way to get inspired. Sometimes, quite often actually, the best way is something you do with your own hands. Our hands have already led us far and have lot to offer, so we should continue to work using our hands.

When it comes to business, people speak about intuition but also often think that play is somehow a thread that has nothing to do with problem solving or work itself, but it does. Play can lead you to discoveries.

One good piece of advice I got was “What else have you got than your intuition? Always follow it.”

Who or what inspires you? 

Pilvi Takala’s art. She rocks hard – watch her work called “The Trainee”, for example. Miitta Sorvali, her acting and comedic skills and her way of being. Colours, shapes, light, masks, dogs and birds. Optical illusions and haptic experiences. New flavours. The concept of time and the human body. Play.