Creating a strong brand - Brand Styling Case Study with Dove & Dovelet

Many small business owners are familiar with what a logo is. We all recognise at a glance Nike´s swish icon or the Starbucks´ mermaid.

 Branded mugs and cups contribute to the branding, too! (photo by Pete Bellis on Unsplash)   

Branded mugs and cups contribute to the branding, too! (photo by Pete Bellis on Unsplash)

 

However, creating a brand goes well beyond having a pretty logo to display. This is especially true if your brand is in a business area where your target customers are design conscious or design savvy, but this is also true when you really want your customers to feel in a certain way while making use of your brand.

You want your brand to become an experience.

Think of how many successful cafés care about their interiors, their coffee blends, even their mugs! This is exactly why we love them so much - for the overall experience.

In this blog post, I would like to share with you a real life example of what a brand styling entails and what makes a good brand styling. I´ll do this by sharing the branding work done together with the wonderful Dove and Dovelet, one of my (favourite) customers (ever).

Introducing the brand  

Dove and Dovelet is an Australian based small business selling conscious functional design accessories for babies and their parents. Their style is minimalist and directed to parents who like Nordic/ Scandinavian styling in both home decor and fashion.

  Dove and Dovelet ´s brand style guide by  Bold Type Studio

Dove and Dovelet´s brand style guide by Bold Type Studio

The business started in 2014 and at the time of our collaboration it was already pretty mature. That is when they knew it was time to re-brand and revamp their logo and image.

But first...

Before diving into the design process, it is important for a designer to get a clear idea of what the business´s goals and values are. This is why I always start collaborating with my clients by submitting a questionnaire. Many small business owners have never really sit down to think through who is their ideal customer, what values their brand has, how they want their brand to be perceived. This is a good time to get these things clear.

Once this step is done, you can move to the fun part!

The Brand Style Guide

As mentioned in many other posts, I am a big fan of moodboards as a tool for collecting ideas and brainstorming over a style (if you want to learn how to create a moodboard, you can read this blog post I wrote - it guides you step by step through the process).

So, the first step towards the actual brand style guide is creating a moodboard. This is meant to gather inspirational photos of what vibe you want your brand to communicate to your audience, plus getting a visual idea of who is your target customer. You can see Dove and Dovelet´s moodboard at the bottom of the brand style guide (see the first photo).

The moodboard lays the foundations for the rest of the graphic choices that will make up the brand style guide. Typically, these elements are logo, icons or submarks, patterns and fonts.

In the specific case of Dove and Dovelet, we picked:

LOGO: a clean, geometric logo that incorporated the original D+D elements of the previous logo. Since the brand is catered towards a minimalist style, the design needs to be clean. As Scandi style is an element in the moodboard, the hexagon is a good choice, since geometric shapes are often used in Scandinavian design.

Typically, I create a main logo and some logo variations that can be used for profile pictures. The latter ones are usually an icon or a simplified version of the main logo. Since icons and profile avatars will be displayed in small sizes, it´s better to keep any potential clutter away and leave in the design only what is readable. 

 Pattern design for  Dove and Dovelet  by  Bold Type Studio

Pattern design for Dove and Dovelet by Bold Type Studio

COLORS: being D+D a minimalist brand, we picked a simple black and white palette, which pairs well also with the natural materials used in many of the brand´s items (wood, linen). The combo creates a nice stylish Nordic feel.

PATTERNS: taking the elements from the logo (D, + and hexagon), I created a pattern that is coherent with the style and colour palette of the brand (see the second photo!). Again, Scandinavian design is often associated with geometric elements, so this pattern aims at communicating an influence from this type of design.

FONTS: We picked two fonts - one for the D+D and one for displaying the brand´s full name. Both fonts are clean, but different. The D+D part of the logo is in the font Merlo Round from the Merlo typeface (or font family). The full name is written in Prestige Elite Bold, which is a clean font with an old typewriting feel.

  Dove and Dovelet ´s business card by  Bold Type Studio

The corollary design material

Keeping in mind the style visualised in the brand style guide, we then proceeded to create two corollary branding material designs - a business card and a label. 

THE BUSINESS CARD: the design created was a simple and clean one, to keep in line with the minimalist vibe - just the logo in the centre and few necessary pieces of information.

THE LABEL: the label was designed with the vintage apothecary labels´ style in mind. This style is nicely clean but interesting and not boring. Plus, it pairs well with the Prestige Elite typeface, as many old apothecary labels were filled out with a typewriting type of font. 

So, what makes a good brand styling?

If you had a look at Dove and Dovelet´s website, you might have seen that the design is very aligned with the graphic work that I showed you in this blog post.

Dove and Dovelet is in fact a brand that has a very clear idea of what their style and aspirations are, so much that the owner herself already had a clear vision when she came to me and could clearly pinpoint the best design for her brand. 

So, what makes a good brand styling? Cohesiveness.

As you may have guessed, at the base of all is a clear idea of your goal. Without this, it will be difficult to create a coherent style - something which really reinforces a brand´s image. 

When you direct your message to a clear target customer, your branding becomes a mirror of your customer´s aspirations and ideals. This creates a natural draw towards your brand, but this can be achieved only if you have a clear idea of what makes your brand unique and how to visually express it.

Then, to help you keep your styling cohesive and coherent, you may want to create a brand style guide to guide your future branding efforts. This will keep you on track, so that you will not get lost in thousands different directions.You can refer to it for picking your colors, your decorative graphic elements, your fonts and - ultimately  - your "vibe".

Every small business needs a period of experimentation when they are not sure about which style suits them best. Therefore, the brand style guide will probably serves you best once your business is starting to settle and needs to reinforce its image.

Concluding

After reading this blog post, I hope you will be able to evaluate whether your brand styling is directed towards cohesiveness or if there are elements to be changed and re-directed.

In case you want to collaborate with me on your brand styling work, you can read about my Logo and Brand Styling services and about the moodboard creation service on my website.

I will be sharing in the future on my Instagram feed some of the questions I ask in my brand styling questionnaire - so keep an eye on it! 

As of now, let me know how you feel about your brand. What would you change to make your brand styling stronger?

 

Using a moodboard to style your interiors

Welcome to part 3 of Bold Type Studio´s blog series on moodboards! If you have not yet read the first two articles, I recommend you have a look at them before reading this last post. In the first blog post we introduced the concept of a moodboard and had a look at its potential uses.

 My home´s moodboard

My home´s moodboard

In the second article, we instead looked at how to create a moodboard without the use of Illustrator. It´d be good to already have an idea of both what a moodboard is and how to make one, before diving into using a moodboard to style your interiors! 

Most of us buy furniture out of necessity and home decor out of a whim. The whim part is a tricky one, because we end up collecting objects in different styles and un-matchable colours. Which is fine if you´re after functionality only. But if you are reading this blog or if you are following me on Instagram, I am pretty sure you do care about style, too. 

I personally love home decor and I love having a vibe rather than a messy assembly of things. My simple solution was to create a moodboard of my ideal home vibe and use it as a guide. 

IMG_6828.JPG

A moodboard (like the one I made for my home that you can see here) would help you pick your decor in the right style and in the right colors. Also, I think that while it is nice to get inspired by beautifully styled photos of interiors in magazines and Instagram, we have to consider our own taste, too. In the long run, you can get tired of a home that does not feel entirely yours, so personalising it is of utmost importance. A personal moodboard serves this aspect, too.

Just to reassure you, you do not need to throw away your furniture now and buy new one to make it fit your moodboard. You can still move things around your home and use the moodboard to guide your future purchases and then replace everything little by little (which is what we are doing!).

Now I am going to share an example from my own moodboard and my own flat. I am not an interior decorator and surely there are many things one could professionally do better, but here is a way to do it for us non-interior pro. 

 Grey tones in the dining area

Grey tones in the dining area

Your home moodboard  will be composed of the vibe you want to create (given by the photos you add) and the colours you want to use (given by the palette). These two should be coherent and work well together, so as to create a cohesive effect. The feel I wanted to create in my mooboard is one giving a sense of relaxation and peace. It should be minimalist but warm, so I opted for mostly beige and nude tones rather than - say - a graphic black and white. I love all greys, too, but not for the living room - so my shades of greys are mostly kept in the dining area.  

You may be wondering why I put two different colour palettes in my moodboard. The one on the upper right is for the main furniture pieces. I love my sofa, big carpets, furniture to be in soft colors. My second palette is instead to guide my accessories´ and small home decor choice. So, the accessories can be black, dark grey and blue-grey. Green is left for greenery and leafy plants (I do not use flowers indoors much).

 Apothecary vase by Lagerhaus and soap dispenser by  Kuishi

Apothecary vase by Lagerhaus and soap dispenser by Kuishi

We are slowly replacing our old furniture, but while waiting for the revamping to be complete, small decor items can keep it together and help create the feel. 

As I mentioned above, I fancy a bit of vintage feel. I added photos to my moodboard of a vintage lamp and of some vintage decor.

Our Ikea Hektar floor lamp (near the sofa) does add a bit of that vibe, and so do the small decor items around - such as the small apothecary vase from the Swedish Lagerhaus and the soap dispenser from the British Kuishi, which I really love. Kuishi was a great discovery for me, as their glass dispensers combine the beauty of vintage with a modern look and have frosted or matte effects that I really love. Plus, you can find any possible colour and even have it customized, which is great when you need an item to really fit into your colour palette. 

 Eucalyptus bouquet

Eucalyptus bouquet

I added some greenery ideas on my moodboard. I mainly use small branches of green leaves plants, such as rosemary, lavender or eucalyptus. I also would fancy some dried wheat, as it resonates with the calmness of the vibe I am trying to achieve and it has a color that would fit well in our living room (I added a photo on the moodboard, too).

As we moved recently, we have not yet sorted out wall decor. I like to pick wall art that has a meaning to me, so I generally do not buy art that is trendy - even if it matches my colour palette. Personalisation is my keyword! Considering my moodboard, I will likely pick some art prints I made that have the closest feel (like the Line Art Flower you see below).

As we move forward into re-decorating our home, I will keep referring to the moodboard. The bedroom, especially, could benefit from a calmer and cozier look. I am thinking of adding - for instance - linen bed covers and a vintage styled lamp.  

 Line art flower by  Bold Type Studio

Line art flower by Bold Type Studio

I hope the examples from my home gave you an idea of how a moodboard can be used to guide your home decorating efforts.

I understand that creating a moodboard may seem like a heavy and time-consuming task to some of you. If that is how you feel, you can make use of my Moodboard Creation service. We can design the right vibe for your home and you can keep it as a reference for your home decorating over time. 

How would your moodboard for your home look like? Please share it with me! Tag me on Instagram with @boldtype_studio or just comment under the post. I would love to know!

* Disclaimer: Kuishi´s soap dispenser is a sponsored product. However, I truly love it and was honestly looking forward to sharong it with you!

How to create a moodboard for your project (even without Illustrator!) - part 2

In the first blog entry of the series, we got an overview of what moodboards are and how you can use them.

 "Slow Morning" Moodboard and Palette

"Slow Morning" Moodboard and Palette

Now we are ready to dive into the actual process that will lead to the creation of a moodboard - like the "Slow morning" one I made.

I will be sharing my personal process to do this. There are surely other ways to create a moodboard, but I follow this process for work and I think it works fine!

It comprises of 6 steps,:

1) COLLECTING YOUR IMAGES: I was suggesting in the first article that you create a Pinterest board to gather all the photos you find inspiring for your project. If you do not have a Pinterest account, you can create one here. I use Pinterest to work with my clients on their moodboards and I really love how easy it is to use.  A word of caution about using the images from Pinterest, though. If you are using your moodboard for private purposes only and you are not going to share it online, you can collect any image you find on the internet. However, if your intention is to spread your moodboard on social media, I would warmly recommend you get your images from websites with royalty free images. This is an important point if you do not want to infringe any copyright, which I am sure your don´t. I recommend browsing Unsplash, as it has very beautiful, free photos on virtually any topic.

2) SELECTING YOUR PHOTOS: Surely you will collect plenty of images and find all of them inspiring! The purpose of a mooaboard, however, is to nail down the style you want to create. This means you will need to pick just the right images and preferably only between 5 and 10 of them, which will suit most of Canva´s moodboard templates. I usually recommend my clients to collect all the images, do not look at them for a day and then come back to them to select. Taking a pause usually helps looking at your photos with fresh eyes and it´ll make it easier to choose.

3) ASSEMBLING THE MOODBOARD: Now you can head to your Canva moodboard maker, select a template and start to edit the photos (just follow the instructions, it is very easy). If you want to add a colour palette to your moodboard, make sure to select a template that includes one.

When assembling the photos, I recommend balancing the images´ colours by spreading light and dark images around evenly. You want your moodboard to be not only inspiring, but also aesthetically beautiful!

Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 13.52.32.png

4) CREATING YOUR COLOUR PALETTE: Canva´s moodboard tool does not allow you to pick the colours directly from your image (as in Illustrator, for instance). This means you need to extract your colour codes with another tool and then insert them into Canva´s moodboard maker. You can use another Canva app for the purpose called  Color Palette Generator or you can use a mobile app like Pixel Picker. With Canva´s color palette generator, you will be given a ready made palette of five colors. These will be extracted from the image you upload (see the screenshot of the rose). However, since your moodboard will contain more than one photo, you need to identify which colors are most recurrent in your photos´ selection and pick only those. Have a look at my moodboard at the beginning of the post to see what I mean.

When adding the colours of your palette to your moodboard, it is common practice to go from the lightest color to the darkest one. Start with your white or beiges and then proceed to your black shades. 

5) SAVING YOU IMAGE: Last step is simply to save your newly created moodboard! 

Now you have a moodboard to inspire whatever creative project you may start. I use moodboards for creating logos and brand stylle guides, but you can use them for pretty much anything - including guiding your home´s decoratons. In the next blog post, I will be sharing tips on exactly this - how to use a moodoard to give your home a a special mood and a sense of coherence.

If you do not have time to learn how to create a moodboard yourself but you need one for work or for your home, you can hire me. I offer a Moodboard Creation and Style Brainstorming service that will help you nail down your perfect style!

 

How to create a moodboard for your project (even without Illustrator!) - part 1

Since I was a kid, I have always loved being in environments with the right "feel".

It has always crazily thrilled me when a place is able to fully immerse me into the mood it tries to evoke. I love visiting old historical homes and castles with preserved original interiors, for instance, because I can almost taste how life developed in the rooms. And I am sure many of you love having a coffee in a well curated, themed café where each detail is thought through and added to re-create the right vibe.

As a brand designer, creating moodboards for my clients is what I enjoy the most. Interestingly, I have noticed that also my clients love having their moodboards ready, possibly even more than their logos! I think this is because a moodboard is able to translate into visual what one has in mind for a brand or a project. Suddenly, what you have been dreaming of seems an achievable reality and it is there - right in front of your eyes!

 "Tropical Minimalism" moodboard

"Tropical Minimalism" moodboard

Of course, a moodboard alone won´t make a brand (nor a project) - but it surely gives it the right initial kick. Most importantly, it will provide the visual focus needed in order to achieve your goal. Focus is key here, because in any creative project there will be moments when your mind will want to diverge and follow the new ideas popping up like mushrooms in your head. This risks becoming a significant waste of time and it may even water down the goal you had first set for your project. I am sure you know exactly how this goes and how de-motivating the effects are. Hence, a moodboard is a useful tool to keep you on the right track.

Just to clarify what we are talking about, moodboards are sort of collages that can be made with photos, text, materials. They are centred on a topic and meant to create the "mood" or vibe you are looking for on the topic. Typically, the images are accompanied by a colour palette, but this is not always the case. A moodboard can be created physically - by pulling all the inspirational material together onto a board - or digitally.

Here are some examples of digital moodboards I created some time ago. One is on the concept of "Tropical Minimalism". This is a mooboard that could be used to style a logo for a brand selling stylish minimalist swimwear. Or it could help style the interiors for a tropical-chic café. You could even use it to set up your table for your Tropical themed cocktail party! How you would go is to pick items according to the colour palette and in the style presented (clean and minimal) and then prepare your table by taking inspiration by the photos. For instance, you may buy a Bird´s Paradise plant to decorate your dining room and get a pineapple to use as centrepiece on your table. Your may prepare some light blu cocktails and add a slice of lime on the glass. Then you may go for clean, white plates (for the minimalist part) and get yellow napkins and straws, plus ask your guests to wear a white blouse and their stylish shades for the party. And so on - you get the point!

 "Carried Away" moodboard

"Carried Away" moodboard

The moodboard on the right, instead, is titled "Carried Away". As you see, this has a completely different vibe. It evokes a moody atmosphere, maybe of an old house by a stream or a lake. It could be the starting point for designing the cover of a novel. It could inspire the packaging of a vintage calligraphy pen business. Or it could guide the styling of your 1930s inspired reading corner.

As you have seen, moodboards can be used for a great variety of projects and not necessarily be linked to design work.

The tool is easy yet so useful,  so I am glad to be sharing in the next blog posts some tips on how to make your own moodboard - even if you do not use Illustrator or Photoshop! 

If you need a moodboard for your business or your project, and would rather get help to create one, you can check my Moodboard Creation and Style Brainstorming service. 

If you want to opt for the DIY road, you can very well get ready for the next blog post.

Part 2 of this Moodboard Series will show you a step-by-step guide on how to create your moodboard and palette without Illustrator or Photoshop. For this, you will need Canvas´ Moodboard tool (available for Desktop), a website to get inspirational images from (I recommend Unsplash) and a color picking app (like Pixel Picker or similar). If you wish to collect all of your photos in one place and then sort them out later, you can create a board on Pinterest - and maybe you can start right now!

 

 

Norway´s sense for Koselig

The spotlight in Nordic design is typically on brands coming from Denmark and Sweden. If you fancy the style, you may think of Muuto, Hay, Ikea and Normann Copenhagen as best representatives. Finland have come to enjoy some fame, too, thanks to famous brands such as Marimekko and designers as Aalto. Less known is  - I believe - Norwegian design.

 Creamy Vase from Enjoy Design.  See it here! 

Creamy Vase from Enjoy Design. See it here! 

I thought it was time to investigate it.  I was especially curious about the concept of 'koselig', which many compare to the Danish 'hygge' and the Swedish 'mysigt'.

What best way to discover what Norwegian design and koselig are all about than asking Norwegians themselves? So, I went on to interview two Instagram account owners I´ve come into contact with through my Instagram account.

Here is what they have to say about Norwegian design and koselig. Get ready to read about how nature plays such an important part in Norwegian life and what trends are currently popular in Norway!

ON NORWEGIAN DESIGN

The first interview is with Silje Gården Lian, a 28 years old marketer and event planner living in Trondheim, Norway.

Silje loves renovating and decorating (she has renovated herself - with help from her father and sister - her whole apartment). She also owns the online shop "Nordic Interiør" , which makes her a perfect candidate for telling us more about Norwegian design.

1. How do you think Norwegian design characterises itself compared to the design from other Scandinavian countries?
 

I think that Norwegian design has a lot of the same characteristics as other Scandinavian countries, Denmark for example. A lot of interior in Norwegian design has a clean and simple design. Designers focus on sustainability, handmade product and using materials that are close by, as wood.

 Silje´s dining area

Silje´s dining area

2. Scandinavian design is worldwide recognised as the prefect blend between minimalism, simplicity, coziness and functionality. Which of these elements do you think are mostly represented in Norwegian design?
 

I think simplicity and functionality. For example Dare To Design Studio just designed a shelf system that is very functional. You can organise the shelves the way you want. You just choose which size you like, and then add pins and boxes as you wish. Also, it has simple design and it is very trendy with the wooden materials.

3. As an owner of an online Nordic home decor shop, can you tell us which items are sold the most and what colours seem to be most popular?
 

We can see that items like the sandy vase form Hübsch Interiør have been very popular, as also the creamy vase from Enjoy Design and our smoked/grey vases from House Doctor. So, colours as beige and smoked grey have been appreciated, lately. But we can also see that darker colours as brown, black and purple are becoming more and more popular!

4. While hyggelig has become an internationally used word, there is a Norwegian counterpart – koselig – which is yet to be discovered. Let´s try promoting it here! How would you describe koselig and what makes it different from hyggelig in your opinion?
 

I would describe “Koselig” as a home with a lot of personal items and maybe items that have a great story behind them. It does not have to be pictures of family or friends, but other personal items that represent you as a person and style. For example, my wooden dinner table is over 100 years old and this makes it very special. To add to that, I also have sheers from different vintage shops. I love furniture and items that other people might not have and mix them with new design.
I also would describe “koselig” as a home where you easily can relax and be comfortable. Furniture with cosy materials and warm colours that you can snuggle into. I feel that “hyggelig” is more of a state of mind and the feeling of when you’re in a “koselig”/cosy home.

You can follow Silje on Instagram @siljelian_ for more Norwegian design inspiration!

A BIT MORE ON KOSELIG

 A photo by  Ingunn Leifsdatter

The second interview for this blog post is with Ingunn Leifsdatter, owner of the Instagram account @ileifsdatter. I fell in love with her intimate photos depicting the small pleasures in life. I thought she would have a good sense of koselig, considering her wonderful feed.

Here is how Ingunn describes the feeling. Enjoy!

1. How do you think the idea of koselig differs from the idea of hygge and mysigt? 

Koselig-mysigt-hygge - my guess is that even if all these concepts have a lot in common, there will still be some cultural differences. Koselig is all about making that warm, comfortable feeling inside. Moments that we define as koselig can happen anywhere at any time - inside/outside, in summertime/wintertime, together with family and friends and, of course, alone. 

2. What is a very koselig thing to do as a Norwegian? 

 A beer in the backyard? That is koselig. Photo by  Ingunn Leifsdatter.

A beer in the backyard? That is koselig. Photo by Ingunn Leifsdatter.

Here in Norway we have a lot of different traditions that we think are koselig. In wintertime it is all about skiing all day long and later go inside (often to your cabin) to curl up in your comfy sofa with hot chocolate and with some fire in the open fireplace. There will also be candles - lots of candle! And cushions and, also, homemade socks of wool. In summertime, we love to gather family and friends around tables in the garden for dinner. Even better is to take a trip with our boats to visit one of our lovely islands! Again we lit up a campfire and eat crabs we ourselves fish. We end the day by looking at the stars. It may also be much simpler than this, of course. For me it starts early in the morning with a cup of coffee in the garden - no matter if it is raining or the snow falls down. It is very koselig anyway. If my partner is home, it's twice as koselig. A typical koselig moment for us is to put some music on and share a beer or a glass of lemonade in our backyard after dinner. This is really, really koselig!!

3. Do you know how the concept is related to Norwegian culture and the reasons behind it?

The concept with koselig might come from the need for some extra warmth in the long, dark and often cold winter. This is just my guess, though. For us Norwegians it has become a lovely part of our culture - and I truly love it!

 

Historical perspectives on Nordic design - with Tess Josefsson Bergqvist

For this new blog post, I have interviewed my dear friend Tess Josefsson Bergqvist, who works as an architect in a studio located in central Göteborg, Sweden.

If you remember reading that last name somewhere else in the blog, you are completely right. Tess is the wife of Richard, guest of the first interview for my blog (scroll down a couple of blog posts to find it). A design couple, yes!

Me and Tess share a passion for understanding historical and social trends and events.  I could not resist asking her some questions about how she sees the current trends being intertwined with design. 

If you have the historian flair, you will surely enjoy it!

1) So, Tess. White is a color widely used in Nordic design, especially in interiors. The need to brighten up the rooms in the long, dark winters is probably the main reason for this. However, the trends in wall painting and industrial design, too, have been featuring darker tones, lately. Green shades and greys are increasingly popular. Why do you think is this trend spreading?

 Grey-based color palettes are getting popular - my moodboard on the theme.

Grey-based color palettes are getting popular - my moodboard on the theme.

I would say that one reason is simply that the pendulum is shifting out of favor of an all white interior, as all trends are shifting sooner or later.

Why it is shifting towards the specific shades of green and gray is harder to answer.

These are drowsy colors, creating a comforting atmosphere. Maybe a perceived hostility in the outside world is increasing the need for a home to be a safe space. A stylish and snug haven for relaxation. 

 

2 ) Hygge was a very popular term in 2016. Do you think the Swedish word "mysigt" carries the same meaning with it?

I think they are similar in essence, but "hygge" is including a bit more of eating and drinking than "mysigt" is, the same way as we imagine Danes are indulging in those things a bit more than Swedes do.    

3) How much influence from foreign countries is there in Swedish design? Or do you think Swedish design draws inspiration mainly from within the country´s traditions and values?

I think Swedish design is extremely influenced by the international movement.

Sweden was a very poor country for very long time, but that changed with the second wave of industrialism, modernism and socialism during the first half of the 20th century.

Maybe that is why Swedish design has embraced the modernist ideals of the international style so thoroughly.

I would say that the inspiration drawn from within the country's traditions and values is secondary to the modern influence. It adds a flavour or tint to a design mainly rooted in an international design movement, which in turn was based on pan European heritage and was drawing inspiration from all over the world - most notably from Japan.

Thank you so much, Tess!

The Wabi Sabi trend in 2018

Minimalism is taking a new turn in 2018.

According to Elle Decor, Japanese inspired Wabi-Sabi will influence home decor with its refined rustic and highly aesthetic decor theme. While Elle focuses on how Wabi Sabi will influence the interiors´ field, I am sure the trend will spin off to other areas of the design world. The last few years have seen an increase in moody, slow living inspired trends which - to me - signal that there is a growing interest moving in that direction.

Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese aesthetic concept calling for finding beauty in imperfections and impermanence. The idea is derived from Buddhist philosophy and notions such as modesty and austerity are there to infuse a sense of simplicity.

Being a half Japanese designer, I feel like this upcoming trend embodies pretty much my life, so I admit writing this blog post with a lot of enthusiasm. 

As you may have guessed, the new Wabi-Sabi trend makes use of natural materials, raw textures and an elegant rustic look. The colours are earthy, yet delicate. Blue hues are often used, especially on the Navy and Lapis Lazuli shades. We are talking about colours that remind of Japanese folk traditions and crafts.

To give you a visual feel of what I am trying to explain, I created an inspirational moodboard with a colour palette. Earthy and blue accents, raw vibes, nature´s impermanent beauty, appreciation of traditions. These key components are accompanied by an underlying sense of melancholy, of time passing that cannot be grasped.

wabi_sabi.jpg

So, what makes Wabi Sabi different from slow living?

Personally, I think the main difference is that it adds to the love for simplicity the search for a purely aesthetical beauty.

Also, there is a taste for asymmetrical shapes, an Ikebana flavour which favours an effortless unbalanced look.

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Lastly, the blue shades are brighter than the moody, muted choices typical of slow living trends.

A word of caution though. To achieve a balanced and elegant Wabi-Sabi look, you need not over-due it.

Whichever your design field - graphics, art, home decor - keep your background decor neutral and choose few, matching Wabi-Sabi elements as accents. 

This is a beautiful trend, I believe. Hope you will embrace it - together with its deep philosophical background.

 

Design conversation with architect Richard Bergqvist

For my first interview on my blog, I had the pleasure to host my friend and architect Richard Bergqvist, who works for Sweco Architects in Göteborg, Sweden.

As a lover of interior design, Nordic and Scandinavian interiors are a great source of inspiration for me. It is therefore with great interest that I am now sharing with you Richard´s well-thought-through answers on the topic.

1) Let´s start by discussing floor planning. Do you think there are substantial differences between how this is done in Sweden compared to elsewhere in the world? What elements are considered as fundamental in a Swedish floor planning?

First off, perhaps it goes without saying, but I think that it's absolutely necessary to point out that there's a huge difference between the way homes are being planned in modern times compared with pre-modern. That is, roughly before or after the  emergence of Modernism in the 1930s... of course, there's also a difference between today and thirty or forty years ago, though less strikingly so.

Many of the interiors you post on your Instagram are from pre-modern apartments that were designed for the old bourgeoisie, with separate entrances and passages for serving staff, as well as maids' chambers etc. These apartments look beautiful and are very popular, though they have very atypical floor plans (compared with the majority of Swedish homes, which were mostly built from the 1960s and onwards). Their qualities lie mainly in the way they're constructed, with solid natural materials that age well, and with high ceilings that make the apartments light and airy. 

 

 Open plan in a Göteborg flat -  living room, dining area and kitchen sharing the space. Photo credit  Reveny.se

Open plan in a Göteborg flat -  living room, dining area and kitchen sharing the space. Photo credit Reveny.se

 

Now, what I would consider typically Swedish might be the open floor plan, with little or no separation between the living room and kitchen. This design philosophy is reflective of Swedish ideals concerning gender equality; and also the modern ideal of the nuclear family as norm. No longer do the women toil alone in the kitchen, nor do servants. Rich or poor, both parents are expected to work in the kitchen. Therefore, it is quite literally lifted to a position of prominence in the home. 

Another thing that may be a bit of a quirk of ours is that we don't necessarily separate our homes into more private and more public zones. We sometimes have bedrooms opening directly towards the living room, for instance - something an Irish colleague of mine found unthinkable. For reasons of economy and pragmatism, we can tolerate foregoing the occasional corridor or hallway. 

We also very rarely have more than one bathroom, choosing more often than not to have a family bath that's perhaps complemented by a powder room. Personally, I much prefer having one bathroom per bedroom or there about. 

2) Is there anything in Swedish interior architecture that you think is conducive to creating a cozy environment? Or do you think most of it has to do with home styling and decor?

I think that a great deal can be accomplished with great home styling and decor, but you have to have something to work with. A common feature in many Swedish homes, which I find to be the greatest single factor when it comes to coziness, is the fireplace. Nothing beats a real log fire when it comes to getting cozy! 

3) What made - in your opinion - Scandinavian design and home styling so popular in the world in the last years?

I think the reason why the Nordic style is so popular and has spread so much is the same reason why Apple products are so popular: Minimalism. What I mean by that is that simplicity is more universal than intricacy and ornamentation. As soon as you add details and patterns and decorative elements, you're adding specific flavors and cultural values. It's much easier to project yourself onto a blank canvas than something that's very much "other" than yourself. 

Simplicity and generality are the hallmarks of Nordic design, and as such creates a very low threshold for people to understand and relate to it, I think. 

Perhaps there are other reasons too, but I personally believe that this is the main one. 

4) What is a place you would recommend visiting in Sweden if you are a fan of Nordic design?

If you are a fan of Nordic design, then I can warmly recommend a trip to the Louisiana museum in Denmark. The setting is marvellous, the architecture is glorious, and both the permanent art collection and their temporary exhibitions are well curated and interesting. Definitely a place you can visit many, many times.