Mentoring Program for Design Criticism


Finnish Cultural Institute in New York presents a new mentoring program for visual arts journalists, writers and critics in Finland and the United States. what we write when we write about design, organized by the FCINY and funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation, focuses on design criticism.  The pilot program includes two weeklong professional development intensives. The first will take place in New York in May in conjunction with the NYCxDESIGN, followed by a second one during the Helsinki Design Week in September. 


The aim of the program is to develop and expand the participants’ expertise in writing, cultivating a critical voice, addressing current and future notions of design and understanding the role of design in society and urban environment. 


ALLISON ARIEFF, the Chief Mentor of the program, has been a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times for over a decade. She is Editorial Director of the urban planning think tank, SPUR and writes about design, technology and cities for numerous publications including Wired, The MIT Technology Review, California Sunday and City Lab. The former editor in chief (and founding senior editor of Dwell), she is the 2018 recipient of the AIGA Steven Heller Award for Cultural Commentary. 


Three professional writers from each country have been selected to participate in the program:

AILEEN KWUN is a Korean-American writer and editor based in New York City. With a focus on art, design, architecture, and technology, her writing centers on cultural and humanist readings of the built and virtual environment. 

TIFFANY LAMBERT is a curator, educator, and writer specializing in questions of material and human agency. Using writing and curation as platform and catalyst, her work centers on the ways architecture and design can mediate broader cultural experiences.

HANNU PÖPPÖNEN is a Helsinki and China based design journalist and author focusing on design and architecture. He is currently working as a professor in School of Art and Design in Guangdong University of Technology. 

EEVA RÖNKÄ writes essays about fashion and is fascinated by objects' ability to create atmosphere. 

VILLE TIKKA is design strategist, writer and curator interested in post-contemporary design practices, including the design of ethical AI systems, benevolent platforms, and infinite organizations.

KATE WAGNER is an architecture and design writer whose work aims to create new interdisciplinary interpretations of ordinary spaces. Her academic work revolves around the history of architectural acoustics and the role sound plays in our understanding of space. 


Each participant plays a significant role in building the contents and outcomes of the program. Learning from participating peers plays a key role in the process. Between the two intensives, the selected participants will work independently and online.