Archive for the ‘Scandinavian Design’ Category


Marimekko Spring 2013 – full catalog here.

It’s (almost) that time of year again, SPRING! To celebrate, I’m sharing new images from Marimekko‘s Spring 2013 campaign, “Colour for a reason.”  Aren’t these colors and textiles like a breath of fresh air?? Be sure to drop by one of their stores, or check out their new collections online here.






Spring 2013 at Marimekko – Colour for a reason. Get into it!


Maija Isola pattern from 1961, today in 2013. How great is that?


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kapitza geometric cover 1

Kapitza Geometric + 100 Geometic Pattern Fonts

Months ago I stumbled across Kapitza’s Geometic pattern book while researching textile design and feel deeply in love with the colorful visuals. How great is it that designers began developing pattern fonts much the same way pictorial or symbol fonts exist today. The book was developed by sisters Nicole & Petra Kapitza who together run the independent design firm Kapitza. According to abduzeedo.com, “Both sisters share a passion for everyday life, minimalism, patterns & colour. Their studio is based in East London, a vibrant and dynamic area which forms part of the inspiration for their work. Other inspirations include nature, people and software. The sisters have been developing an extensive series of unique picture fonts and illustrations that lie somewhere between image resource and art project.”


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So you may ask, what are pattern fonts? “Pattern fonts can be installed on your computer just like any other font. But instead of letters they contain a graphic shape on the keys. The power of pattern fonts lies in the way they allow patterns to be created in any software application (from word processing to graphics); and standard font features – like size, leading and letter spacing – make tweaking and tuning pattern designs limitless and easy.” – abduzeedo.com

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Sadly, it appears the book is out of stock, but check out the website to see if more are available here. You can also purchase just the pattern fonts (here) or vector art (here). So get into Kapitza’s Geometric pattern book with the video and happy patterning!

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It’s been a while since my last post but a lot has happened in the last few months! No longer am I an unattached freelance designer, free to design for any client of my choosing. I’ve entered into an exclusive long-term (design) relationship with …. Moroccanoil! In a few days I’ll have been there 2 months. Time really does fly. While adjusting to a full-time work schedule, I’ve tried to blog here and there but I haven’t been able to get back into my grove, but I plan on changing that soon. I have a huge list of artists, designers, illustrators and photographers I’d like to share, and hopefully some new work of my own too.

I also want to celebrate that for the past FOUR consecutive months, I’ve hit 2,000 page views. While that pales in comparison to many design blogs out there, it’s miles away from the 17 views a months I had back in May 2010. This blog has been a great outlet for me to share inspiration and put into words my goals and passions, especially when it comes to design during my two years at Pratt Institute. Blogging turned into cheap therapy for a grad student that never felt at home in an MFA program. Good bad and ugly, it’s all here. And some really GREAT things have come from this blog too!

While studying abroad, I blogged about Scandinavian Textile Design and was featured on a few blogs about my travels through Sweden, Finland and Denmark. Blogging about the artists we saw and the showrooms we visited ignited my interest in learning more about textile design and writing about design in general. It also gave my blog a particular focus. Last summer I was completely shocked when I was invited to interview with a creative director that has and continues to make work I greatly admire. Last month my thoughts on resume design and interviewing were featured on another blog, also to my surprise. So while this remains a side hobby, no matter how small, your hobbies and interests can open doors! So here’s to opening new doors in the coming months and sharing more stories.

See more of my pin’d type quotes (here) on my pinterest.

Lastly, a quote from one of my favorite posts, and read more about Marimekko here.


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Earlier in June, I blogged about Lotta Kühlhorn, the Swedish pattern, textile, product and graphic designer. I was first attracted to Lotta for her beautiful pattern and textile designs that cover tea towels, cutting boards and trays in many Scandinavian stores, but she’s done an impressive amount of book cover design, the holy grail of graphic design. I wanted to take a moment to look at this work more closely. So sit back and enjoy more of the work of Lotta Kühlhorn, and if you’d like to see her pattern/textile designs, check my earlier post here.

I also really like this style of her illustrations.

Hope you enjoyed seeing more work from Lotta Kuhlorn.
Check out her website here.

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Photo: Anna-Lena Ahlström

Today I’m sharing the work of Scandinavian pattern/textile designer and illustrator Lotta Kühlhorn. I stumbled across Lotta’s work while browsing the Huset Shop website (a great place for Scandinavian design inspiration) and immediately recognized her work from my travels to Sweden and Denmark last summer. Lotta is a great example of a designer using bold graphic colors and prints to create simple yet beautiful pattern designs. I particularly enjoy her fruit and vegetable patterns. According to her bio on Huset Shop,

Lotta Kühlhorn is a Swedish-born illustrator and designer. She started her professional career while attending Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design. Lotta is known for her bold patterns and vibrant colors. In the 1990s, she was one of the first Swedish designers to begin experimenting with the graphic elements of “junk culture,” using pop art, films and mass produced items as the basis for her inspirations. Lotta’s simple “happy-making” products are inspired by her childhood and feature a bit of retro seventies style. –Huset Shop

I really love that she turned ‘junk culture’ or things considered lowbrow into beautiful patterns and works of art. What I really enjoy about Scandinavian Design in general is designers in this genre use simple elements, patterns and shapes found around them and create pieces of art from it. It’s not that deep and conceptual … and THANK GOD! Scandinavian design is stripped down to its simplest elements and is therefore democratic and more accessible to a larger population. That’s what I’d like to do with my work. Just look at IKEA and H&M, two Swedish designed brands with simple, honest approaches to design and world-wide appeal. I don’t think as designers we should be creating barriers to understanding and communication. But I digress ..

I also like that Lotta designs book covers, which as a graphic designer myself, I really connect to.  So check out her work below, on Huset Shop and on her website here. Enjoy!

I love her simple illustrative style. Great for patterns and surface design.

Pear Mugs.

Pear Tray – cute right?



As an illustrator, her work varies in complexity of pattern.

Great kitchen illustration. Love.

Lotta uses this same approach to book cover design. I want a set of all her books!

I’m going to blog more about her book cover designs later this week, so stay tuned! Hope you enjoyed the work of Lotta Kuhlorn so far!

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Today I wanted to introduce you the work of the amazing Scandinavian designer Maria Dahlgren! I first came across Maria’s work during a trip to IKEA when I picked up one of their KORT Art packs featuring 5 small prints of her work. I loved the playful colors, patterns and typography. I looooove the way Maria approaches type, playing with positive/negative space and color to create her the city prints, for which she is known. Now that I’ve been to several of these cities (Copenhagen, Helsinki and Stockholm) it’s fun to recognize some of the landmarks she depicts in her work.

The career of Swedish Designer, Maria Holmer Dahlgren, began at the internationally-renowned Swedish stationary company, Ordning & Reda. Maria co-founded Ordning & Reda and designed for them for 18 years. Other achievements include being commissioned to design the interior graphics for Stockholm’s stylish boutique hotel “Rival,” owned by ABBA’s Benny Andersson.

Maria now has her own thriving design company, Metagram. She designs a variety of contemporary trays and other pieces aimed at the high-end tourist market, and currently sells them in places such as Stockholm’s “Moderna Museet” gallery.

Of her work, Maria says…

“…There’s beautiful art all around us, if we just open our eyes to it.”

-Huset Shop.com


IKEA Kort – pictured above. At $5 this is a STEAL for her work


Stockholm Tea Towel


Helsinki Tray (above).
Trays are HUGE in Scandinavian interior design stores, not sure why they’re so popular, but every print comes on a tray … and they’re expensive too. Most are made from Scandinavian birch trees which are everywhere in Sweden and have the most beautiful white and black bark.


Breakfast Tray


From Futura Trays – love this series!


Stockholm Tray


Happy Thoughts Tray


Tate Tray designed exclusively for the Tate Modern. See the entire collection here.


TuttiFrutti Tray – one of my favorites!


Look at this alphabet!


Helsinki Capital Cities Print -went to a bunch of these places while in Finland – you can see the birch tree bark where is says Design Museo – makes a great pattern right.



Hope you enjoyed the work of Maria Dahlgen as much as I do!


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Click image above to flip through entire book!

If you follow the link above, you can literally flip through one of my two inspiration sketchbooks I created during my 7 weeks in Copenhagen. During our study tour of Sweden and Finland we were instructed to collect everything: scarps of paper, brochures, posters, postcards, anything. Everyday we had drawing assignments to help us get used to sketching and drawing inspiration. As someone that doesn’t consider themselves a strong drawer, this was quite a challenging exercise. So many times I take pictures or collect them online so I can “remember” something I liked. While it’s good practice to document as many sources of inspiration one can find, something magical happens when you take time to draw it. Taking the extra time to figure something out and draw the lines and angles cements it in your mind much more vividly than a picture can. We take pictures in a secon, and we quickly forget about them. With drawing you are investigating and thinking about what you see, and transfering it from life onto the page. Milton Glaser talked a lot about this during this summer course. He also talks about it a lot in his book, Drawing is Thinking. In The Accidental Masterpiece, Michael Kimmelman talks about this too. He says,

“Cameras made the task of keeping a record of people and things simpler and more widely available, and in the process reduced the care and intensity with which people need to look at the things they wanted to remember well, beacuse pressing a button required less conectration and effort than coposing a percise and comely drawing.”

But this isn’t a post about drawing per say. It’s more a post about process and the documentation of mine during my trip. One of the greatest hallmarks of Scandinavian Design is process. We were told this again and again. We were encouraged to experiment, make, sketch, paint and take pictures. Many of our experiments were trail and error but together culminated in our final textile designs. In this course, the process was more important than the final product. This is in stalk contrast to design education in the US. I can say this honestly because there’s many times I’ve done a project in a night or two days, totally disregarding process. While this helps me and other designers get by, we’re not really learning anything. We often resort to ideas we already had and that process gets exhausting. We’re left with uninspired work and no new ideas. That’s why process is so important. After this trip I feel more full with ideas for design projects than ever before. A lot of this I credit to the first mentioned sketchbooks!

I loved the shades of greens and brown I saw on buildings in Helsinki, Finland. The organ pipes appear many times in my sketchbook – I think they’d make a great pattern so that’s something I hope to work with later on.

A study of black & white.

This is a free giveaway we were given at Valilla Interior. I loved the colors and graphic patterns of their textiles. Instead of keeping this brochure in a folder I decided to bite the bullet, cut it up and glue it into my book. Now all my inspiration is together and in context with similar inspiration.

Illums Bolighus is a BEAUTIFUL store in Denmark and Sweden. It’s part design store, part kitchen, bath, home, and clothing department store. Basically they have everything you need to make your home beautiful. They also have beautiful ads like this one above. In love with the shades of grays here.

I ripped this down from the street in Copenhagen. Love the ripped edges too – gives it some character. Don’t be afraid to leave edges unfinished and rough, you can use it to create interest in your sketchbook or design work later on.

In this page I ripped up a Marrimeko ad to try and create something new. The opposite page is one of the early circles exercises I drew in the process of creating my final print.

Here’s an example of printed things I found during my trip. I saved everything and glued them into this book. Now its all in one place anytime I need to look at it. To see the entire sketchbook, go here!

Now when I look back at this book, I can isolate type treatments, color combinations, textures, techniques, and general inspiration for new projects. I tried to think of each spread as a compositions by mixed unrelated materials together creating new juxtapositions. Now I can’t take all the credit for collecting and documenting design in this style. All the credit goes to one of our instructors, Helle Vibeke Jensen. We visited her studio early in our trip and that day had a profound effect on everyone in the program. Helle Vibeke has been keeping sketchbooks in this manner for YEARS. Her studio is a library of cataloged inspiration from all over the world. Each time she goes on a trip, she buys a new Moleskine and begins collecting scraps and drawing. Here’s some photos from our studio visit.

Above: Her studio. Loved these blue chairs. Makes me dream for my own studio one day.

One of her many supply and inspiration drawers. So much fun stuff to play with.

Helle Vibeke’s library, full of her sketchbooks and books she’s illustrated and designed. To see more of her work, check out her website here.

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