10 Questions for Darren, Aalto Startup Center’s New Designer

Darren Bratten is one of the new designers at Aalto Startup Centre and we welcome him to share a few thoughts. His background in design and business development will be helpful to our startups. Darren is excited by the impact of design thinking and its strategic application.

To help our startups learn a bit more about Darren, we held a brief interview with him.

Q1: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

Darren: Yes, well I’m from Ireland and I moved to Helsinki to study a masters in Collaborative and Industrial Design in autumn, 2019. Previous to that, I was living, studying, and working in Dublin for ten years, but I’m originally from rural Ireland.

Q2: What is your master’s studies about? 

It’s preparing me to work as a design entrepreneur and in a range of roles within industry, business, communities, and education. The programme places an emphasis on collaborative deign projects, working with other designers and user groups. I can select from courses in industrial design, interaction design, service design, and others.

Q3: What’s your professional background?

Darren: For my undergraduate I’ve studied Product Design. Then I’ve held various positions as a designer and maker within small manufacturing companies in Ireland. I’ve specialised in packaging, and event props, but I’ve worked the most as a furniture-maker. Before I arrived in Finland I was a junior product manager, planning and implementing a market strategy, and acquiring funding from a local enterprise council. Over the summer I was developing a new brand identity for a Finnish engineering company.

Q4: Why did you want to work at Aalto Startup Centre?

Darren: Young companies are still shaping their identity. It’s exciting and as a designer there’s an opportunity to create an impact. I’m interested to learn about the challenges that startups have with implementing design and helping out in any way that I can.

Q5: What’s your role in Aalto Startup Center?

Darren: Day-to-day I’m working with the other new designer, Bohan. We collaborate on different design-related initiatives for Aalto Startup Center. For example, we’re developing new communication material, we’re hosting a weekly training event and checkup for startups to learn about design, and we’re also researching and developing new market strategies.

Q6: What is your impression of Aalto Startup Center?

Darren: There are a lot of great business advisors on board to advise these innovative startups. It’s unfortunate that most people are working remote now because the office also has a nice atmosphere. Though the people I’m working with are very friendly and empathetic. It’s also great that they are open to new ideas.

Q7: What do you like about being a designer?

Darren: There’s a lot of uncertainty and surprise in the creative process. I’m always learning and that’s what makes design work so interesting. I’m usually starting out with some mystery and I’m trying my best to solve it. So I get to spend my days researching, framing design briefs, and prototyping alternative solutions to complex problems.

Q8: What’s your work style?

Darren: It’s flexible and strategic. I develop strategies to approach design problems but as creative problem-solver I try to stay curious in my research. I’m always excited to synthesise my findings into solutions. I especially like to use prototyping and iteration to develop physical products or interactive experiences.

Q9: How will you spend 2021? 

I’ll be working remotely from Helsinki and as a part-time designer for Aalto Startup Center until the end of May. I’m hoping to discover more work opportunities throughout this year but in the meantime, I’m engaging in my own practice-orientated research.

Q10: What would you like to say to our startups?

Darren: If you’re interested to learn about design then we should connect!

Designer at Aalto Startup Center
Darren Bratten, New Designer at Aalto Startup Center