Open call for design and art professionals and enthusiasts

Modern National Costume —
Find your inner North

Nov 1- Dec 31



It was quite the challenge to select a winner from 100+ applications with rich and effective ideas, which proves that the theme of nation and nationality is extremely pertinent in society today.

The award goes to MELISSANTHI SPEI for her collection titled, “BEAUTIFUL IS JUST ANOTHER DEGREE OF TERRIBLE”.

We appreciated her extremely skillful craft as well as the poetic approach with which she has explored her native Greece culture. The collection exhibits great attention to detail, playfulness, and creative blend of materials in a search for new shapes and meanings. 

In her own words—

The aim of this project was to study how social and cultural issues in our everyday lives can be translated in the context of fashion in order to bring fresh perspectives to the table—in this case, by directing a new attention to tradition. The concept of the collection is current; It is personal and has helped me evolve through the undertaking of an exploration of my cultural heritage. This project is a way to show that there is an opportunity for improvement in situations of crisis. It can be expressed using one’s own cultural resources. It reflects the confusion and disappointment experienced by people, especially in Greece, and particularly the youth. It is essential for the youth to appreciate its cultural heritage and not reject it by imitating foreign stereotypes. The economic crisis is greatly responsible for creating confusion; however, at the same time, it needs resolution. New interpretations of carnival values and symbolisms have been used as a medium in the project to suggest solutions through the use of non-conventional materials.

Additionally, there are two honorable mentions:

Michaela Capkova, for an extremely well conceptualized and executed collection, based on the idea of how our everyday culture turns into distant historical craft after it is placed in museums. Her project showcases great attention to detail, and her collaboration with the textile artist Eva Jandikova her has led to a beautifully modern translation of traditional ideas and materials.

Karin Kreek, for the powerful presentation of her small home island Saaremaa, strong women, and adventurous use of colors and shapes. Her collection is well spirited and humorous, which is a great part of Estonian traditions, and has been helping people deal with the difficulties in their lives. Her collection is well executed, with a directed focus on traditional elements and stories.

We dress in a culture-neutral way. Some of us have never tried on a national costume. Some of us have been around many places and have no idea what the national dress would even be. And some of us have born into a wrong place, our hearts beat to a foreign culture for no logical reason and using a non-native dress would easily get stamped as the cultural appropriation.

So, how to find your inner North if you belong to many different cultures or if you feel distant even to you own folk dress?

We are looking for fresh and modern ideas about traditional costumes or meaningful national elements.

What in your traditions is worth spreading? What would make all of us better or just happier persons? How do you bring the stories of your ornaments to modern world and context? How would you blend different cultures in a meaningful way?

We all have different paths-Every now and then we crush into other cultures and integrate bits and pieces into our lives. That makes us “us”.

Tell your personal story, teach us something we don’t know or make us proud



  • INSPIRE! Is your design a cultural innovation? Does the concept provide the new, modern and original view on a national identity in a global world? Is the use of materials and techniques/technology creative?
  • EMPOWER! Do you connect people, cultures or groups? Does it have good influence on society? Is it democratic?
  • INTRIQUE! Do you question the status quo? Do you offer a visually surprising and smart solution?


We have no categories, you can present garments, accessories, shoes or other kinds of body related objects.


Contest  is organized by the Nordic Design Society. NDS is a new type of collaborative design office, focused on strategic use of design. Contest is open for designers, artists, students, innovators and those who can provide the required material.


Prize money is 1000 € total and it will be awarded to one entry.


NOV 1- DEC 31 2018: Submitting entries

JAN 2019:                     Screening entries

FEB 1 2019:                   Announcing winner


Kati Reijonen, PhD in Art and Design, Writer, Inner sustainability expert

Virpi Vaittinen, Design strategist, Futurice

Katrin Koit, NDS Founder and design thinker

Teemu Salonen, Designer-maker

Jitan V. Patel, Art director and copywriter

Hadmut Holken, Accessibility expert and philosopher       

Takako Akimoto, Industrial designer

Kärt Summatavet, PhD in Art and Design, Estonian Association of Designers, board member


There is no limit on the number of entries per person. If you are entering more than one concept, please submit each entry separately.

Proposal must be A3 size PDF and include the following information:

  1. File name: yourname.pdf
  2. Name of the proposal
  3. Name of the designer
  4. Email and phone number with country and area codes.
  5. Photo, drawing, 3D model or any other relevant way to present your idea.
  6. Explanation of concept. Describe your idea, its origin and source for inspiration, relevance, use of materials and aesthetics concept.
  7. By sending proposal you accept all rules, please read beforehand.
  8. Send your submission:


All submitted entries remain the intellectual property of the designer.

Designer grants the Nordic Design Society the right to use her/his name and work for promotional purposes of this contest without additional compensation in all media for one year and without a further notice or approval. Nordic Design Society keeps the rights to modify the presentation suitable for media, but has no right to publish or copy any
said material before receiving a separate written consent from the designer in question.

In cases where contestant has created a partially or fully similar concept with other entries which have won, or been published, selected or mentioned other ways, he/she is not entitled to compensation or negotiation of any kind.

By submitting the work, designer provides to Nordic Design Society the exclusive  right agrees to exclusively negotiate on the use of his/her concept for commercial purpose with Nordic Design Society. This constraint is valid until March1.2019. As a result of successful
negotiations, a specific contract will be concluded between designer and the Nordic Design Society, including, inter alia, the terms regarding the remuneration, scope and duration of the use of designer’s concept and related rights.


Email your questions:

Q: Can I submit my work in French?

A: Yes, you can submit your work in French, English, Finnish or Estonian

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