Design
Sweden
D
S

Erik
Olovsson

Published . Words by Petrus Palmér. Photography by Erik Wåhlström.

After studies in Fine Art, Photography and Graphic Design, Erik Olovsson graduated from Konstfack’s MA Storytelling program in 2012. In 2013 Erik set up his own Studio E.O with an intuitive and experimental-centered approach, mixing self-initiated projects and commissions. With recent work for clients ranging from vanguard names such as Parisian Galerie Kreo, Acne JR and COS, Erik’s work is making marks across the design disciplines.

Why do you do what you do?
I started to play with my grandfather’s old computer that had an image software installed, that was the first time I realized I could work with computers in a creative way. We had just got internet for the first time and I was downloading all sorts of images that I was making collages of. I then discovered the beauty of letters and decided that I should become a graphic designer, and from there one thing led to another. Nowadays I enjoy invention part the most, to see your own ideas come to life, that’s very rewarding for me.

What does your average workday look like?
I bike to my studio in Årsta, have a morning meditation and then a cup of coffee, after that I’m ready to start the day. I try to do all my creative work in the mornings and do all the mailing and other stuff in the afternoon. Recently I’ve been working on some new projects and then I do a lot of sketches on A4 papers that I fill my studio with. And when I’m not in my studio I sketch on my phone. When I sketch I make them really fast, like 30 seconds, this way of working is quite essential to my work, I like to have a large quantity to choose from. From time to time I also like to sketch with my hands, I’m doing a project called afternoon sculptures. I then ensemble small pieces of wood or other left over materials that hopefully can be a starting point of a project, the action of doing things without knowing where it leads is really important for my practice.

What has changed?
I see more and more independent designers on the contemporary design scene, which is great. I think it’s part of the boom in tech and information that has enabled designers to work and be seen to a large audience without a lot of money.

What is easier now then before?
To work with someone on the other side of the world that you’ve never met and discuss work in detail over email and Skype. And that it’s possible to do your own thing and find your own crowd. There’s so many possibilities nowadays to be seen and get your things out there on different platforms.

What is harder now then before?
To find time to do creative work. I spend so much time on answer emails and do admin stuff. That’s the hardest part at the moment, to find the time to focus on the things I want to do, like make new projects.

What would you say to someone thinking about a career doing what you do?
Don’t think to much if you should do it or not, just do it. Start doing what you like and be a little stubborn, it will payoff, it just takes some time. I think most of us doing this type of work needs to find their own way of doing it, there is no right way of doing it. You need to invent you own career.

www.studioeo.se

Clara von
Zweigkbergk

Published . Words by Petrus Palmér. Photography by Erik Wåhlström.

Recently awarded the Bruno Mathsson Award 2016, graphic, product and identity designer Clara von Zweigkbergk is the the living manifestation of the multidisciplinary design role. With close ties to land-winning danish design brand HAY and with new work for Nike and Louis Poulsen, Clara is designing our daily surroundings — but she does it best between 4 and midnight.

Why do you do what you do?
I have never considered anything else really. As a teenager I had a great passion for type and calligraphy, as well as drawing, sowing, carpentry, making jewellery, etc. I was very happy to find out there were schools and professions for these things. I feel very lucky to be able to do what I do.

What does your average workday look like?
If it is a nice day I take the 25 minute bike ride to our studio in Södermalm. This is a perfect occasion to think about what to do this particular day but often my thoughts drift in all directions and I arrive to work without a precise plan. There is always more to do than time so it is much about making priorities, and I start the day writing a to do list and go over it with my colleagues. Then most of the morning time goes to e-mails and phone calls. In the afternoon I get my best focus and if I am lucky get in to a creative flow and then I would just like to stay at the office the whole evening. Sometimes I do and feel I get more done between 4 and midnight than I would in a week.

What has changed?
The best change for me has been to be able to work with companies all around the world, thanks to e-mail and Skype. People with similar taste and interest can easily find each other now. But nothing is better than a real life workshop, so I also travel quite a bit.

I work quite a lot by hand, building paper models etc, because I prefer it and it gives me time to reflect, and act upon new things that occur while having it in my hand, so the design process itself has not changed so much. But it obviously is easier and quicker to conclude a project with 3D software.

What is easier now then before?
It is not necessarily easier, but I have more knowledge of my design process now and do not get as wound up if it turns out really bad in the beginning, I know I just have to keep on working and I also know that no time is wasted, one idea may not work for this project but for another. One thought leads to another.

What is harder now then before?
Before everything was exposed to the world via internet, I am sure there must have been more freedom for exploration and failure. Now things go faster, and they are presented to everyone at once. This makes the design industry more concerned about speed and trends. But of course, on the whole this exposure is mostly positive, as it has helped designers and producers to reach out to a larger audience.

What would you say to someone thinking about a career doing what you do?
If you are willing to work hard and have the passion, go for it! Think through what you are good at, what you can become better at, and what your goals are. Save money, take chances that are presented to you and make the most of it. Be curious, innovative, patient and make it fun!

www.claravonzweigbergk.com

Minna
Palmqvist

Published . Words by Petrus Palmér. Photography by Erik Wåhlström.

Minna Palmqvist is one of Sweden’s most prominent new fashion designers and artists. Starting out with artisanal clothing in Finland and completing a masters degree in textile from Konstfack, Minna now showcases her work around the globe, most recently “The Future Of Fashion Is Now” at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam. Minna’s constant theme is to explore how we see the female body and the female and non-male being in society.

Why do you do what you do?
Because I can not stop. Sometimes when times are tough I always think “I quit”, but I can't. It is like my frustration with and my love for fashion are just equally big, and this tension drives me to constantly move forward and twist and turn stuff around and see what I could make of it. The constant theme of my work is how we look upon the female body and the female and non-male being in society - how the body is seen as an object there to please others and for others to have comments on. It is a never ending source of frustration and inspiration and since I think these questions are very well addressed through fashion, I do what I do. Not because I think I can solve it. But to start discussions.

What does your average workday look like?
When I am solely working on my own projects and collections, I get to my studio in Liljeholmen in Stockholm around 9. Drink a huge cup of strong black coffee with my lovely office colleagues, and then I open my computer to check of my e-mails. After this, it can take any direction. I am extremely bad at keeping routines. I am dreaming about becoming a routine person, but I just can not seem to do it. So usually I do ten things at the same time. Sewing a sample, realizing I have to take something to the post office, coming back, starting to search for inspiration, realize I was sewing something, continue sewing and so on. I am quite a mess.

Right now I am in Sliperiet in Umeå on a residency, since January until September, learning new digital techniques and machines, and just experimenting and researching to see what happens with these tools. Could they be useful in my work process? Can I make some of my prototypes here? What happens if I take my very hands-on analog way of working and force it into the digital world? When here I sleep a bit too long, and my days are floating between different working studios and sample making, and I start and finish my day with a 40 minute walk along the beautiful Umeå Älv.

Last summer I realized I was about to hit the wall from working like crazy for maybe 6 years, so getting this opportunity to land a little and to find the way back to creativity without constant stress has been such a great thing.

What has changed?
The most recent change is my work pace. I wanted to do everything before. I said yes to everything. I was so afraid to miss The Moment when everything would fall into place. Instead I think I maybe missed that moment because I was too stressed to see it. Now, I am trying to me much nicer to myself and to ask for more help. The dream is to find a more organic way of working than before. The first step for me is to not work by seasons. It really killed my vibe doing that. But it is hard to let go when the option is still not really clear. I am still figuring it out.

What is easier now then before?
It is easier to communicate my work and my ideas, since I have reached out to a bigger crowd. I do not have to explain every millimeter of my work anymore, and I do not have to overthink all my design decisions since I have a lot of old ideas to take from, plus I have become a bit better about thinking that if I am the person doing this thing, my values and my story will be there without me trying too hard.

What is harder now then before?
My performance anxiety just gets worse and worse with every project I do. I have extremely high expectations on myself, and I am never ever pleased with the results. I am most happy while I am in the process and I see my work growing. I hate when deadlines cut my workflow off.

What would you say to someone thinking about a career doing what you do?
Be smarter than me. Have a business partner who can be half your brain when it comes to decision making and planning. And win the lottery, haha.

But if you are sure you want to do it, be stubborn, have great friends and family who will be there through the ups and downs, and go for it!

www.minnapalmqvist.com

Göran
Söderström

Published . Words by Petrus Palmér. Photography by Erik Wåhlström.

Göran Söderström is the founder of Letters from Sweden; a design studio designing retail and custom typefaces for local and international clients such as Ableton, VSCO, Sweco and Tictail.

Why do you do what you do?
My path to become a full-time self-employed type designer have been long and uncertain with lots of obstacles, but I think I do this because I’m meant to. Ever since I was a kid, letters have been a big part of my life and I truly love working with them. Shaping letters in new, different ways, see how they play together with other letters to create communication is truly fascinating. I also do this because I never stopped believing I could make a living out of drawing letters, even though everyone I met tried to convince me it was impossible.

What does your average workday look like?
Our studio is located in the area where I also live, so I take the 5-minutes bike ride to the studio and once there I turn up the music and work very focused. I also have client meetings now and then, which most of the time takes place at their office, so I usually take the 15-minutes bike ride to visit them downtown. For international clients I use Skype or phone. Sometimes I sit at other places to work, like a hotel lobby, museum or a café. Working on trains is really nice too, so I usually prefer the train when visiting clients outside Stockholm or in Scandinavia.

What has changed?
The last 10 years have brought a lot of change. Most importantly, the tools have changed dramatically. Today it’s much faster to develop a typeface, given you learn to handle the new tools available. This has lead to an explosion on the retail market. New typefaces are released every day even though the majority of them may not be very good. Still, quite many people are actually making a living from creating fonts, at least internationally. Sweden is still in its very young days, but I’m here to change that. I often try to encourage honest young designers to give it try.

What is easier now then before?
The technical side of developing typefaces and promoting them to the world have become easier. Both large companies and individual designers have the same opportunities to reach out with their products thanks to social media. Chances that the right audience find your work are high, since information travels so fast around the globe.

What is harder now then before?
It’s harder to stand out with your work because there are already so many great new typefaces available from all over the world. This is also inspiring, of course.

What would you say to someone thinking about a career doing what you do?
Always draw from scratch and try to be as authentic and honest as you can – never modify existing typefaces! I can’t stress this enough. I also think it’s important to release stuff. Publish your typefaces and then jump on to the next one. I think far too many people have unfinished work in their drawers. Just like music, there will never be enough of new typefaces.

www.lettersfromsweden.se

Daniel
Östman

Published . Words by Petrus Palmér. Photography by Erik Wåhlström.

Daniel Östman is one of Sweden’s most coveted interior designers with a growing roster of private interior commissions as well as commercial work for clients such as Oscar Properties.

Why do you do what you do?
It’s the thing I know how to do. My job is to absorb all the beautiful things in the world, art, design, performances, music, fashion, craftsmanship … Process it all in my mind and then put it back out there. Why would I do anything else?

What does your average workday look like?
I don't know if there is an average workday. The only thing I know is that today wont be like yesterday. Most of my time though is spent on research and attention to details. Selecting materials, colors, trying out different ideas, discussing with craftsmen etc.

What has changed?
Today we are pursuing an entirety. We see the home as an extension of a way of living, or a dream of how to live. Less and less it’s a question of products; that is good.

What is easier now then before?
The agony of the design process is eternal, it will never get easier. But the tools get better and better, and obviously that makes it easier.

What is harder now then before?
In the end, design is all about making choices. And the world is getting smaller, you have instant access to everything today and that of course makes the choices harder.

What would you say to someone thinking about a career doing what you do?
Make sure you find a context so you can do actual work, and work hard. Do the same thing over and over again; through experience comes the courage to trust your instinct. You feel it in your guts when it’s right, and it never is until you fail and start over a few times.

Going for the first hunch and then arguing for it rather than trying something different is not talent, that is stupidity.

www.danielostmaninteriors.com

Special thanks to Bolon for sponsoring our Ambassadors project.

During 2016, we are profiling 12 practitioners from different design disciplines to give face to Design Sweden, one for each month of the year. We aim to show how the design profession can look like in 2016 and to promote the exchange between disciplinary boundaries. The project is photographed by Erik Wåhlström.