Aina Nilsson Ström - Alumn



"Realize the responsibility you have as a designer"

What did you do directly after you graduated from HDK?

– I got a job as a designer at Saab in Trollhättan, Sweden.

What are you doing today?

– I left my mission as Design Manager at Volvo during summer 2015, after 20 exciting years. Now I run my own firm as an independent advisor in design.

How did you end up there – how has your career path been like?

– After working as a designer in my first few years after graduation, I have held leader positions in vehicle design for many years both at Saab Automobile and Volvo. I have built up design operations in many countries around the world and had the privilege to work with talented designers from different cultures. Besides, I have held many commissions of trust, for instance as board member of several listed companies, e.g. Elextrolux, Ballingslöv and SWECO. I have been chairman of the SVID (Swedish Industrial Design Foundation) and held several government appointment.

During your study time, did you have some kind of strategy to influence your future career?

– To always be near competent and talented people, with a hope of learning more.

Your strongest memory from HDK?

– All the wonderful people (crazy parties) and the fantastic possibility to experiment.

What is the most important lesson from HDK-period? Any special tools/skills?

– The importance of a good preparatory work, the analyse of function is something I keep in mind every day. You need to make practical experiments with, for example, physical models and allow yourself to play and have fun to be able to be creative.

If you were to give one advice to a prospective HDK-student – what would it be?

– As a designer you have to realize your responsibility for sustainability. We are creating the future. 

Seek meaning in what you do but remember to allow yourself to play and have fun, then you can really enjoy your creativity in the best way.


Aina Nilsson Ström

Job title: Design Manager

Born: 1953

Comes from: Jönköping, Sweden

Educational at HDK: Industrial Design

Graduated: 1976



Photographer: Volvo

Volvo Trucks

These are two of the trucks that have been designed under my direct leadership from 1995 to 2000.
Photographer: Saab

Saab 900

The new Saab 900 (later to become Saab 93) where I was responsible for the interior design, we developed innovations like the “Black panel concept” and the progressive speedometer for the instrument cluster.
Photographer: Saab

Saab 900 Cabriolet

The Design of the 900 cabriolet was developed in Finland under my management.
Photographer: Saab

Interior: Saab 95

The interior design of the Saab 95 was ready up to concept decision under my responsibility when I left Saab in 1995.