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Industrial Design Students' Excursion to Hetta

Picture: Aukusti Mäenpää

On the 1st of November a group of master’s degree students of industrial design visited the snowy village of Hetta in the municipality of Enontekiö. The purpose of the excursion was to become familiar with the tools and vehicles used in reindeer herding. The visit was part of a course that focuses on an in-depth product design process. The goal of the course is to deveop new products that make reindeer herding easier, and it is run by University Teacher Pertti Aula, PhD.

Students practicing their suopunki throwing skills. Picture: Aukusti Mäenpää

The roughly three and a half hours’ drive to Hetta began in the early morning hours from the front parking lot of the university. We took a quick lunch break at Restaurant Niestapaikka (in 2020, Niestapaikka won the entrepreneur of the year award), from which our trip continued towards the home of Janne Näkkäläjärvi. Janne is the head of development at The Sámi Education Institute (SAKK) and a reindeer herder. He showed us some vehicles and tools that had been modified to fit the needs of reindeer herders. The list of vehicles and tools included a snowmobile, a quad bike, three different types of sleds, and all the accessories added onto each one of them. We also made the acquaintance of a dog named Kairi, who is experienced in reindeer herding. Towards the end of our visit, we got to test out our skills in suopunki throwing (a type of lasso used to catch reindeer) with the guidance of the world champion Janne Näkkäläjärvi.

Some of the bravest souls in our group even rode a snowmobile around the house.

Testing a snowmobile. Picture: Aukusti Mäenpää

Having discussed and learned everything we could about reindeer herding, it was time for us to head back to Rovaniemi. On our way back, we saw a few valkko reindeer (a valkko is a totally white reindeer) jogging on the side of the road. We also made a quick stop at Levi and had dinner. We arrived at the campus in the dark evening hours of the same day.Everyone was exhausted by the day-long trip, but we also felt excited about the project and about everything we had learned that day.

Written by Riikka Isotalo and Frans Vilander

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