A holder of the Finnish honorary title of vuorineuvos, an industrialist and a design activist, Krister Ahlström has left his mark on Finnish business life over the years. He worked for Wärtsilä for 15 years before joining the family business A. Ahlström as the head of central administration in 1981. A year later, he was appointed as the CEO of the company. Ahlström led the company until 1998, and after that he has held positions such as the Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors at both Stora Enso and Fortum.
Ahlström is known as a passionate advocate for Finnish design, and actively works to promote design in Finnish business life and society. He has successfully implemented design management principles and applied them innovatively to develop business strategies. Ahlström has played a key role in the creation of Finnish design policy, and he has chaired several projects within the Finnish design industry. Ahlström was also instrumental in establishing the Design Archives. He was the force behind the start of the project, and the Design Archives were able to be set up quickly thanks to the extensive preparations carried out by Ahlström and industrial designer Jorma Pitkonen.
The materials donated by Ahlström include documentation of the work he has done to promote Finnish design. The materials are mainly from 1998–2010, i.e. the time period when Ahlström was a strong influence on how Finnish design found new horizons and ways to work, making design a part of the Finnish innovation system. This time period also laid the foundations for the Helsinki University of Art and Design becoming a valuable part of the new Aalto University.