Design the Design Notebook of TOKYO and AYY

The design calendar is now a design notebook! Are you the designer whose work is in everyone’s hands this autumn? Designer competition is running from March 15th to April 6th at 12 noon!


Next autumn, a new kind of design notebook will be published instead of the traditional academic year calendar of TOKYO and AYY. The notebook published at the beginning of the autumn term can be used as a bullet journal like a calendar, as a traditional notebook or even as a diary. We hope that the notebook is useful to more and more members of the Aalto community.

Students of Art, Design and Architecture in Aalto University (TOKYO) has published the Design Calendar since 1975. The project is organised together with Aalto University Student Union (AYY) for the fourth time.

The designer will be chosen traditionally in a contest from among the students and the winning designer will be paid. The previous design contest was won by Mirka Larjomaa, Visual Communication Design MA Student, who designed the design calendar for the academic year 2020–2021. The design notebook will be made for the academic year 2020–2021, but the product is timeless and will not expire after the end of the academic year.

Are you the designer that we are looking for? The contest will start on Monday, 15 Mar 2021. Please submit your entry no later than Tuesday, 6 Apr 2021 at 12.00 noon!


Contest rules:


1. Contest duration and the right to participate

The contest will begin on 15 Mar 2021 and end at 12.00 noon on 6 Apr 2021.

The contest is open to all Aalto University students. Fluent skills in Finnish or English are required in order to execute the notebook design.


2. Submission of proposals

Entries must be submitted no later than 12.00 noon on 6 Apr 2021. You can submit your entry by e-mail as a pdf file titled “Design Notebook” to julia.wihuri(a) Due to the jury working remotely, only e-mail submission is possible this year.

Entries will be processed anonymously. To ensure anonymity, please add a working title to the document you are submitting. Please include the designers’ names and contact information in the email message field.


3. Content of the design

The entry must include at least the following designs:

·         notebook cover

·         notebook spread with space for possible ads at the bottom

·         student union information pages

·         possible tracker, to-do list, project calendar, weekly calendar or other suitable section for a notebook

·         suggestion of materials

The size of the design notebook is “slightly narrower A5”, 125×195 mm or 125×198 mm. Flexibility will be specified depending on the final design and the printing house. Notebook pages should be presented in their actual size.

Colour: The notebook begins and ends with four-colour announcement and info sections. The notebook section and part of the info section are in two colours.

Printing volume: 6,000 notebook copies were printed.

Language: Finnish, English and Swedish (info pages and other text). The main language may be English but trilingualism is a plus.

The choice of materials may need to be changed due to the limitations imposed by the printing house and the project budget.


4. Choosing the winner

The winner of the notebook contest will be chosen by a jury appointed by AYY and TOKYO. The jury consists of representatives of representatives of AYY and TOKYO as well as a specialist member on visual communication design. Those invited to the jury cannot participate in the contest. The jury will give feedback on the entries and select the winner. The jury will work remotely.


5. Winner’s commission

The winner or winners of the contest will be ordered a final design for the implementation of the notebook published in the autumn of 2021. The final design work will take place in April-June 2021. The designer will be paid a fee of EUR 1,800. The person with the second best entry will be paid a prize of EUR 150.


6. Content of the design work

The design work includes making print-ready files in cooperation with AYY’s communications sector. AYY recommends remote work in the current COVID-19 situation, but if necessary, offers facilities for working at its office at Otakaari 11. The final design must take into account the customer’s requirements due to the usability of the notebook and the production costs. It is also the designer’s responsibility to modify the announcement section into a publishable format if necessary. Other terms for the work will be agreed in more detail when signing the contract.


7. Other issues

The design should take into account the following features: user-friendliness, durability, clarity and accessibility (taking into account dyslexia, for example), originality and environmental friendliness. An ideal notebook works for many different purposes and serves Aalto students in many ways.

Based on previous calendars, good features of a calendar include plenty of writing space, paper that suits all types of pens and durable cover material. It should be noted, however, that the notebook is a new type of product that is not directly comparable to the former calendars.


The jury will emphasise the following when evaluating contest entries:

♡ The notebook should look and feel like the whole Aalto community.

♡ The jury also emphasises the quality of the presentation. What does the notebook look like? How does it work? Please present your entry in a sensible rhythm. Also present the materials, paper types, fonts and colours you have used. However, visual look is more important than the chosen materials. Please avoid the jargon of graphic designers.

♡ What is special about your notebook? Please ensure that the jury understands the new and amazing features of your notebook. Explain and describe how the notebook works. Justify your solutions briefly and concisely.

♡ Have you thought your entry through? Lead the jury’s imagination by submitting an assertive entry. The entry is not a finished notebook but present it as such.

♡ Do you have what it takes to complete the project? Your graphic design skills and the ability to turn your proposal into a finished product must be apparent from your entry. You do not have to be a graphic designer but the work requires knowledge and experience in printing technology. Please submit your entry on time  – being late suggests that the notebook itself will be delayed.


For further information, please contact AYY’s Communications Specialist Julia Wihuri (julia.wihuri@ayy).

You can read more about the calendar and its history on the TOKYO website.

You can find more information about the work of the last year’s winner Mirka Larjomaa on AYY’s website.


Have fun with design!