A Swedish Design Story
For me it was always clear what I wanted to do. Even though it was not always as specific as it is today. I have always known that I wanted to work with my hands, with ideas, problem solving and aesthetics. To create something interesting and beautiful. This however can take form in many ways. So how is it that I came to decide on the path of Design?
To know this, we need to have a look at where I am coming from. I would argue that this goes for all people and that every person sees the world through different glasses, and that these are shaped by our different experiences in life.
My glasses have been shaped by many things. But there are a few things that have been the core stones to set my path towards Design.
A creative childhood
As early as I can remember I have always been exploring my creativity on different levels. Some of my earliest memories involves creative exploration. I can remember how my dad and I used to draw together in our old apartment in the suburbs of Stockholm in Sweden where I grew up. He was not especially good at it, but this was our quality time together. We were most often drawing cars. Particularly the Volkswagen Beetle which in Swedish is just referred to as a “Bubbla” or Bubble in English. It was not really transportation design level for me at the age of 5 but I found these moments with my dad to be very special and something that probably started it all.
Another early memory that I remember is with my friend Robert in Kindergarten. We were building a bicycle together, for weeks we were trying to find different spare parts that would fit together. Whilst the other kids were playing outside or playing house, we always had some new crazy projects going on that the other kids did not quite understand. But for us this was the most fun part of being in kindergarten.
A background of arts and handcraft
Another main core stone on my path to Design have been my background of art and handcraft. As a kid my mom used to sign me up for different art and handcraft courses. I especially like to think back to one course where we got to work with plaster and fabric. To me this was revolutionary since I could transfer my two-dimensional ideas into something three-dimensional, and I loved it! I made a tie in fake crocodile skin that I gave to my dad as a Christmas gift. And he even wore it to a Christmas party at work and must have been the most fashionable there by a longshot!
Nevertheless, I didn´t seriously started to think about my future until high school. It was very much thanks to the career talks that I had with my student counselor. I realized that I was going to be an Industrial Designer. But before going into the direct path of Industrial Design I took a slight detour exploring Handcraft and Art at a school where my focus was metal handcraft. Doing that allowed me to explore different form languages, techniques and materials as well as finding my own strengths and limitations.
Lost in the woods of Umeå
After the school of metal handcrafts, I was studying one-year of pre-industrial Design out in nowhere. It was thanks to this school that I finally got into the school of my dreams, Umeå Institute of Design in the woods in the North of Sweden. Being one of a few that was accepted I remember crying out of joy. I had succeeded to take myself where I wanted to be.
This part of my journey towards Design was maybe the most difficult but also the most rewarding one. Studying together with extremely talented people from all over the world from different backgrounds was truly amazing. It made me grow and take a step further into the world of Design. I lived in this city in the north for 5 years and learned so much. Different software, working towards strict deadlines, working with users and clients, working in groups, planning, and presenting projects in front of many people, learning about prototyping, building models and so much more. And all of this while creating friendships for life. These are things that have shaped me into what type of Designer and person I am today. 5 years of laughter, hardship, and learnings for life.
In the spotlight
During my Bachelor time in Umeå I had a quite odd summer job. I am adding this to the story about my journey because I think it is something that have contributed to me as a Designer. The job in question was me being an employee or rather what they call it Artist at the theme park Gröna Lund in Stockholm. Being an artist involved me managing and driving the roller coasters, working within service you need to be social and nice to the costumers constantly. Sometimes for 12 hours 3-4 days in a row. It was important to entertain the guests, to make them laugh and feel welcome.
This was the first time that I had to talk with a microphone to hundreds of people. At first it felt awkward. But after a while it felt like the most natural thing in the world, to talk, go through the safety demonstration, to sing and entertain. It did not matter how tired you were, you would always smile, entertain, and give your best.
This has helped me to talk and present in front of people, to raise my opinion, to feel comfortable in these situations. And to enjoy it. At Umeå Institute of Design there is a Design Talks event that is held yearly. All graduates must stand on a stage with a microphone doing a 3-minute pitch of their thesis in front of over 300 people within the business. Thanks to the job I had as an artist in the theme park I found this experience exciting rather than frightening. And I no longer mind talking in front of people whether it is in private or work-related.
We are INDEED
Since October last year I have been working as an Industrial Designer at INDEED and I really enjoy it. I feel that I can make use of my previous experience in life, in my work or to share with colleagues and I enjoy them doing the same. Because everyone has their own journey towards Design. And this is something we all should share with each other to become better.
I wanted to share my story and my perspective, with my glasses on and what has led me here. Rather to tell you about my internships, traineeships, or jobs I wanted to share a different story. Things that have shaped me the most on my journey towards Design.