Karelian Pie meets Japan

PAI PAI workshop gives a makeover to the Finnish delicacy.


We want to do this again, and again, and again.

But we need your help.

Drop us a line, and suggest a partnership and a venue.

PAI PAI Basics

PAI PAI 「 パイパイ 」  workshop looks for innovative ideas in the crossroads of distinct cultures. It aims to redesign the Finnish delicacy Karelian Pie (カレリアンパイ) by bringing it to Japan. The Karelian pie is a popular everyday food in Finland – a rice-filled pastry that is served as a breakfast, a snack or a side dish.

The Karelian Pies have not changed much over time. The pies have be produced according to a traditional recipe and meet strict requirements for its ingredients, method of preparation and size in order to be called a Karelian Pie. It is unlikely that anything new will come up in such an environment!

This is why we wanted to bring this Finnish delicacy to Japan to get a bakeover. We wanted to see what would become of it in Japan. What would it look, taste and feel like? How would it be prepared or served? Where and when would it be eaten?

This is how you make it

PAI PAI workshop in Tokyo

The 26th and 27th of March 2016

Altogether 31 people participated in the PAI PAI workshop in Musashino Art University D-Lounge in Tokyo Midtown Design Hub, half of which were MAU students or alumni, and the other half from other universities or companies.

We gave the workshop participants a homework, where we asked them to record one food item every day for a period of seven days, and answer given questions: Why did you choose this food? How did it make you feel? How did you eat it? etc. The purpose of this food diary was make them pay attention to their food choices and consider food as a medium, not only as a fuel.

Day 1

The first workshop day started with a crash course to Karelian Pie (take a look at the video above) and the Finnish Pie culture. We continued with the homework analysis exercise. In the exercise each participant shared their food diaries with each other and let the other participants have a glimpse into their personal eating habits. These results were further analysed and discussed by identifying the root causes – and asking why, why and again why? The teams then brought similar ideas together into affinity diagrams. After the first exercise each team had thematic insights that were used as a starting point for the ideation work.

Next the teams brainstormed how the Karelian Pie could be redesigned with the insights learnt from the homework exercise. During the exhausting yet rewarding ideation process we introduced different ideation techniques to the participants. The teams ended up with a number of ideas varying from the most obvious to the wild and even mad suggestions. Each team then picked their favourite for further development. The first workshop day ended with each team having only one concept to be worked with the following day.


Day 2

The second workshop day we reviewed the concepts and pushed the teams to make first prototypes, and test them with total strangers. The teams rushed to Tokyo Midtown to interview possible user groups and iterated their concepts according to their learnings.

Even though each team had similar building blocks the first day, they ended up with totally different results: some redesigned the pie itself, while some worked more on the service concept, while one even ended up challenging and rewriting a new dictionary definition for the word ‘Karelian’ itself.


Partners & sponsors


Hey, thumbs up!