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Visiting old friends

In 1997, a young graphic designer with a head full of ideas borrowed a desk at Forsman & Bodenfors and got to work. Twenty years, 175 clients, 250 awards, two offices and 35 employees later, Happy F&B is one of the leading branding agencies in the Nordic region. While we are proud to have made it this far, we get the biggest thrill from knowing that some of our earliest work is still out there doing the job it was designed to do.

The last meal (2009)

Both venture capitalist and artist, Lennart Grebelius is a rare hybrid. In each capacity, he incorporates factors such as randomness, probability and time. Grebelius’ celebrated installation, Final Meal, is a searing critique of the death penalty. The piece catalogues last meal requests from death row inmates. Rarely has capital punishment looked so absurd or so inhumane. The invitation to attend a private viewing featured a photograph of Norman Green’s final meal – served on the day of his execution: 24 February, 1999.

There’s nothing Faktab about PayEx (2006)

Founded in 1972, PayEx are experts at payment processes and credit management. In 2006, it was time to expand overseas. But there was a problem. The name. In those days, they were known as Faktab. Unfortunately, on a global market, Faktab can easily be mistaken for an obscenity (say it and you’ll see why), while also throwing considerable doubt on the company’s ability to manage anything at all, let alone money. Following the name-change, we laid the directional foundations for the brand, complemented by a new visual identity and – bingo! – recognition increased sharply in short order. (Campaign by Roi)

Back to the egg (2006)

Since 1961, Guldägget (The Gold Egg) has rewarded creative communication produced in Sweden. However, proud winners had to wait 45 years before they could kiss their golden statuettes in front of envious colleagues at the annual awards ceremony. When tasked with producing a new visual identity for the award, the egg itself was given pride of place. We also designed the statuette, which is made of gold-plated brass by the renowned Skultuna Brassworks. 2014 saw the launch of a new website, including an extensive archive documenting the award’s history.

Happy bottoms (2001)

Designing posters for an exhibition of 38 chairs at Röhsska Museum prompted us to not only reflect on sitting in general, but also turn our office into a print shop. In addition to enthusiasm, we lent the assignment our bottoms – by parking our behinds on white sheets of paper with pre-printed text. The result was 300 unique posters. The print run also included a “risqué” special edition, which remains under lock and key to this day.

Our very first assignment (1997)

How many established institutions would leave their brand in the hands of an unproven start-up? Chalmers University of Technology did. We repaid their trust by creating an identity in step with the times and securely anchored in a single word: Chalmers. The university seal, which dates back to 1829, was also in dire need of a facelift. The refashioned emblem became the cornerstone of the new visual identity. It was a comprehensive assignment, encompassing a wide spectrum of touch points – from signage, diplomas and scientific publications to the finest tableware.

An appetising project (2004)

Following a merger between Spar and “old” Hemköp, a new Hemköp was born. To help realise its mission of celebrating the joy of food, a more appetising visual identity was needed. The transformation was most visible in the logotype. Thirteen years on, its rounded and generous lines still beckon hungry shoppers to some 200 well-stocked supermarkets across the country. (Façade sign by Ecosign)

The fine art of collecting (2008–2010)

Over a number of years we assisted Erik Penser Bank with its brand communications, in which collecting was a recurring theme. This was largely inspired by the bank’s eponymous founder, a hoarder of some repute. Their essential message was, “Entrust us with your money and you’ll soon be in a position to collect whatever you like.” In large quantities, presumably. The bank’s customer magazine, Penséer, expressed the theme in two wildly contrasting ways: one a cold, rational look at current trends in capital markets, the other a playful and slightly bizarre take on collecting mania.

It takes a geek to catch a geek (2009–2010)

Art directors and designers are notoriously difficult to please. So when Elanders, a print and packaging concern, voiced their determination to become the leading provider of creative printed materials, we knew we had a challenge on our hands. The solution was to showcase the client’s technology by producing a series of indispensable posters. Geeky themes included “Movie Bad Guys,” “Swedish Summer,” and “First Novel”. The series was awarded a Gold Lion at Cannes, spawning yet another theme: “Winners.”

When Prince Daniel was “all over the place,” we were right behind him (2004)

Prince Daniel won the nation’s heart when he confessed that his feelings were “all over the place” following the birth of his first child, Princess Estelle. As he was standing before the assembled press in the lobby of Karolinska University Hospital, he would not have known (or cared) that we were in the background. Or, more precisely, in the logotype on the panel behind him. A brief recap: When Karolinska merged with Huddinge University Hospital in 2004, we were asked to create a shared identity that not only captured the history and traditions of each institution, but was also international and future-oriented in its expression. (Charles Hammarsten/IBL)

We pronounced them man and wife (2010)

We do not often design marriage certificates. It is rarer still that we are asked to create one for Sweden’s royal family. But on the occasion of the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and her charming prince, Daniel Westling, we were tasked by the Church of Sweden with producing a marriage certificate befitting the occasion.

Protecting our greatest treasure (2003)

Helping some start-ups is a no-brainer. When Netclean approached us in 2003, we welcomed them with open arms. The company’s mission is as simple as it is compelling: fight to keep the internet clean by removing child pornography, save children from ongoing abuse and identify future perpetrators. Netclean’s technology is now used by multinational corporations, government agencies and Internet Service Providers across the world.

A flakey assignment (2004)

When Falksalt tasked us with re-imagining their packaging, they had a master plan – spark a revolution in every kitchen. We gave their flagship product – fluffy flakes of Mediterranean sea salt – its now classic design, which thirteen years later is gracing spice racks across the world. Viva la revolución!

Free as a bird with no pension (2008)

AMF, Sweden’s largest pension fund, wanted to make its brand clearer. To accommodate the client, we removed the word pension and released the swallow from its cage.

Keeping it in the family (2007)

When Forsman & Bodenfors asked us for help with their identity, we felt both honoured and slightly apprehensive. After all, we’ve known each other for a long time, worked together on hundreds of assignments and belong to the same family of companies. We solved the knotty problem by creating another knot, a symbolic monogram reflecting the agency’s unique culture, where focus is on the collective and not on individuals.

A picture is worth about 28,000 words (2008)

Today, most self-respecting encyclopedias are freely available online. Which means the dusty, time-honoured volumes of yesteryear rarely take pride of place in the bookcase these days. But as a quick reference, analogue knowledge remains a relevant complement to its digital counterpart. Nationalencyklopedin (The National Encyclopedia) tasked us with designing attractive and sophisticated packaging for its condensed, three-volume version. So we happily poured a large number of reference objects into three containers (one for each volume) and put them before Pelle Bergström, one Sweden’s leading still life photographers.

Göteborg – it’s all in the name (2009)

The City of Göteborg wanted to clarify its position as a destination rich in diversity. We soon realised there was communications gold right under our noses – in the name itself. Rotating a single letter 90 degrees made all the difference.

The day Lars Tunbjörk shot Gert Wingårdh (2008)

Famed for his colourful reflections on the absurdities of modern life, the late Lars Tunbjörk was one of our most influential photographers. Some years ago, we were privileged to see him in action as he photographed Gert Wingårdh, a towering figure among Swedish architects. He approached the assignment with his usual humility and dedication. The result was pure perfection.

White comes in many colours (2001)

With a staff of over 900 and offices in four countries, White is one of Scandinavia’s leading architectural firms and the third largest in Europe. Despite its size – or perhaps because of it – the company is committed to nurturing a shared vision. A vision founded on a deep understanding of the shifting sands of society, politics and culture. This philosophy is reflected in the visual identity. So while the logotype may encompass a rainbow of colours, it is still white.

Identity to the rescue (2004)

Founded in 1907, the Swedish Sea Rescue Society carries out rescue operations on a voluntary basis – which means it relies heavily on donations to fulfil its mission. The new identity was designed to provide a constant reminder of the vital job SSRS does.

Dance begins with a D (2009)

Dansens Hus is Sweden’s largest venue for contemporary dance in all its manifestations. They came to us for a new logotype – one that would not only unify their many disparate activities, but also serve as a stamp of quality.

Once a challenger, always a challenger (2006)

Following the deregulation of Sweden’s telecommunications, the newly formed Tele2 faced stiff competition on every front. Not only was Telia, the former state-run telecom monopoly, still a dominant force, but other providers were also determined to fight for every scrap of market share. To have any chance of long-term success, Tele2 had to be visible – and slightly provocative. With its megaphone shape, the company’s logotype is loud, unruly and always ready for a challenge.

Changing Kalle’s diet (2004)

Launched in 1954, Kalles Kaviar is a quintessentially Swedish product that can be found in most fridges across the country. For quite a few years, we were privileged to provide both strategy and design for this beloved brand. To celebrate Kalle’s 50th birthday, we decided to modernise the iconic tube, while staying true to the original. Our most radical adjustment was to reduce Kalle’s calorie intake by swapping white bread for a healthier alternative. After all, when you’ve turned 50, you have to watch what you eat.

Noteworthy symbol (2001)

Founded in 1989 by Abba’s former manager, Stikkan Andersson, the Polar Music Prize is an annual celebration of musical accomplishment. The list of laureates reads like a who’s who of popular and classical music, including such luminaries as Paul McCartney, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Ravi Shankar and Karlheinz Stockhausen. The prize had everything going for it – except a visual identity. A shortcoming we were only too happy to remedy. The most visible result of our efforts is a self-explanatory symbol, marrying the written language of music with the regal splendour surrounding the award.

Landmarks as bookmarks (2008)

The Swedish Museum of Architecture wanted to keep its visitors’ interest in architecture alive long after they’d left the building. So we designed bookmarks depicting the three tallest structures in Sweden at the time* (scale 1:1000) – to be sold in the museum’s gift shop. To provide context, we also created a bookmark of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, which at 829.8 metres is the world’s tallest building. For all we know, it may also be the world’s tallest bookmark.

* In 2016, Kista Tower knocked Uppsala Cathedral off its perch as Sweden’s third tallest building.

Still in fashion after 20 years (1997)

One of our very first assignments was to transform a lingerie retailer into a fashion brand. After all these years, it’s gratifying to see the logotype doing the job it was designed for.