What is Cumulus?

Cumulus, the International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media

Founded in 1990

Operating as an association since 2001

198 members from 48 countries in 2013

Cumulus Secretariat located in Helsinki, Finland

Cumulus President: Professor Luisa Collina, School of Design, Politecnico di Milano, Italy

Cumulus Secretary General: Director Eija Salmi, Aalto University School of Arts,  Design and Architecture, Finland

         Recognized by UNESCO since 2011


Cumulus - International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media

Cumulus is the only global association to serve art and design education and research. It is a forum for partnership and transfer of knowledge and best practices.

The University of Art and Design in Helsinki (UIAH) (currently Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture) and the Royal College of Art in London, in co-operation with Danmarks Designskole, Gerrit Rietvelt Academy, Universität Gesamthochschule Essen and Hochschule für Angewandte Kunst in Wien initiated Cumulus as a network in 1990. They all had a common desire to enhance the quality of education through co-operation, student and teacher exchange within the European Union Erasmus programme.

The network was transferred to Cumulus Association in 2001. Cumulus was a pioneer in developing jointly organised MA-programmes, intensive workshops, projects and biannual conferences. These actions were followed by the publication of Cumulus working papers documenting discussions and sessions of each conference and by the development of tools and guides helping students, professors and administrative staff in internationalization.

Cumulus still aims at building and maintaining a dynamic and flexible academic forum which would bring together top level educational institutions from all parts of the world. Cumulus collaborates not only with institutions and organizations from the field of art, design and media; the encouragement of co-operation with industry and business is important as well.

Following current trends and demands, Cumulus offers wider international context for discussion and developments in education and research of art, design and media.

Through competitions, summer schools and exhibitions, Cumulus enhances promotion of the talent of the youth and increases the visibility of their works. With the potential careers of today students in mind, the first Cumulus Think Tank ‘Designers: Career and Professionalization’ was published in 2010 to provide insights into the role of design and innovation in the companies. More Think Tanks are to come.

To stimulate design actions, projects and research leading to a more sustainable society, Cumulus representatives signed the Kyoto Design Declaration in March 2008. To implement the ideals of the Declaration, the Cumulus Green award was established. Cumulus Green is an international award focused on cultivating and leading global cultures, societies and industries towards more ecological and responsible solutions.