Aina Nilsson-Ström, designer and consultant, has been
appointed honorary doctor 2016 by the Faculty of Science and
Technology at Umeå University.
Aina Nilsson-Ström has a
brilliant track record within the automotive industry, and has
worked as industrial designer at Saab Scania, chief designer at
General Motors, and Vice President Product Design at AB Volvo.
Today, she is active as a consultant in the design field, running
her own consultancy.
In her professional role, Aina Nilsson-Ström
has always strived to connect industry, education and research in
order to through collaborations further the development of
knowledge in the field of industrial design. She held strong
positions during an important period of time when industrial design
became a crucial competitive factor for Swedish business, and has
parallel to this contributed to the formation of the industrial
design education at UID, by linking industry and education. As
design director for Volvo Trucks, Nilsson-Ström had unique insight
into design as an increasingly important factor in product
development, and many of those insights she shared with UID
leadership, thus influencing the direction that the then new
education in design was taking at Umeå University.
Central for the industrial design education at
UID was its pedagogical foundation on an educational platform that
built strongly on industrial collaboration. Aina Nilsson-Ström gave
important contributions during the establishment of this formula
that should become one of the major reasons for the success of Umeå
Institute of Design and its students in the years to dome. Aina
Nilsson-Ström has, along the years, greatly contributed both in an
advisory role, through industrial project collaborations, as a
member of the admission committee, as tutor in projects and degree
projects, and through continuous informal discussions with both UID
staff and students.
In addition to belonging to the most
experienced group of industrial designers of her generation, Aina
Nilsson-Ström was instrumental in setting up the research program
"Safe and Effective Transport" between the Volvo Group and Umeå
Institute of Design. This applied research program ran for 15
years, focusing on exploring new methods of design work and design
knowledge, in a wide variety of case studies and projects, with
Nilsson-Ström also part of it in the project steering committee.
Aina Nilsson-Ström clearly emphasized the importance of developing
new design knowledge through both professional practice and applied
research, linking these to education in student and degree projects
within the research program.
Aina Nilsson-Ström's importance for and
contribution to UID is grounded in her strong conviction that
industrial design as a field needs to draw on the areas of
professional practice, education and research in order to develop
knowledge of strategic importance to both industrial design and to
society in general. Aina Nilsson-Ström has provided invaluable
support to Umeå Institute of Design from the founding of the school
at Umeå University in 1989, and is still doing so to this day.
Aina Nilsson-Ström was born in Jönköping
in 1953. She graduated in industrial design from HDK, the School of
Crafts and Design, in 1976 and began her design career in 1980 at
Saab Scania AB. She worked there for 10 years as a senior designer
until she was promoted to Chief Designer under the brand's new
ownership under General Motors.
She then moved to the Volvo Group in 1995,
as Design Director for the brands Volvo, Renault and Mack Trucks.
Her professionalism and leadership skills led her to the role of
Vice President Product Design, Trucks, Buses, Construction
Equipment, and Penta for the the entire Volvo Group from June 2005
to June 2015. Today Aina Nilsson has retired from Volvo, but
continues to actively contribute as advisor in many companies and
organisations, and she is the owner of Aina Nilsson Ström AB, a
strategic design consultancy based in Gothenburg. As recently as
this spring, she has collaborated as expert advisor and external
supervisor in the educations at Umeå Institute of Design.