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Strings attached

Established in 1994, The Torsten and Wanja Söderberg Prize is conferred annually on a Nordic designer or craftsperson. In addition to the prize money (one million Swedish kronor), the winner is granted an exhibition at the Röhsska Museum in Gothenburg. A comprehensive catalogue, reflecting the artist’s life and work, is created for the exhibit.

2018’s laureate is Icelandic designer Brynjar Sigurðarson, whose work is rooted in the fundamentals of Iceland’s heritage – nature, fishing and storytelling. Taking traditional roping methods out of their original environment and applying them to his design, Sigurðarson has created a new visual expression.

This year’s catalogue is almost impossible to open without a sharp tool. The inspiration came from the laureate himself, whose intricate use of coloured ropes and knots brings ancient Icelandic crafts into the present. Four different cover photos, all taken by Brynjar himself, provide a close-up of Iceland’s dramatic landscape.

Brynjar’s work is rooted in the fundamentals of Iceland’s heritage – nature, fishing and storytelling.


Art Directors Club: 2 Merits
Clio Awards: 2 Silver, 2 Bronze, Merit
D&AD: In-book
Guldägget: 3 Merits
New York Festivals: Merit
The One Show: 9 Merits
Typedirectors Club: Merit

Let there be light

2017’s laureate is designer Daniel Rybakken, whose work is dedicated to capturing and reflecting daylight. His fascination with the subject can be traced to growing up in Norway, where the winters are long and dark. This gloomy fact became the starting point for our visual concept.

The catalogue is vacuum-packed in an opaque, reflective metallic foil, its cover printed in a light-sensitive colour with the message only emerging on exposure to sunlight. The poster, which promotes an exhibition showcasing the laureate’s work, is inspired by Rybakken’s perfectionism and precision. We calculated how much daylight there would be in Gothenburg on each day the exhibition – down to the second.

Growing up in Norway, the dark winters made Daniel Rybakken feel tired, claustrophobic and lonely.

Odgaard’s passion

2016’s laureate is Danish designer, Margrethe Odgaard. Her work is all about colour – which is why this year’s catalogue is a celebration of her favourite shades and nuances, with soft organic tones contrasting with her blood-red passion for all things colorful. The catalogue cover and exhibition poster captured Odgaard ready for action in her well-worn smock.

‘I compare colours with the crests of waves. There are just as many colours as there are crests.’

A cover story

Ilkka Suppanen, who won the prize in 2015, is deeply committed to sustainability. His collaborations with Coopamare (a self-organised co-operative of urban recyclable-material collectors in São Paulo) and Club of Helsinki are just two notable examples.

As a tribute to this great Finnish designer, we took 187 old catalogues from the museum’s basement, a bunch of his sketches and a pile of rags to one of the few mills in Sweden specialising in handmade paper. The result is a catalogue cover that perfectly illustrates Ilkka Suppanen’s philosophy: if we are to survive on this planet, then what goes around must also come around.

From catwalk to dogwalk

The 2014 award goes to Swedish fashion designer Ann-Sofie Back. High-profile collections on such varied themes as pornography, religion and violence have cemented her reputation as the enfant terrible of the fashion world – a headstrong designer beholden to no one.

The catalogue paints a very different picture of Ann-Sofie Back. Fleetingly, the spotlight shifts from the catwalk to a walk with the dog, from public persona to glimpses of private life. The sequence of images – more than 80 pages long – unfolds like a short film clip. Besides the picture story, the catalogue includes all of Back’s collections, as well as several essays on this much-lauded fashion designer

Previous winners

Over the years, Happy’s catalogues for the Torsten and Wanja Söderberg Prize have provided comprehensive documentation of the award. On numerous occasions, the catalogue itself has won industry plaudits for creativity. The “Back” catalogue was shortlisted in the 2015 edition of The One Show.

Below you’ll find catalogue designs for previous prizewinners: Hjalti Karlsson (graphic designer from Iceland), Sigurd Bronger (jewellery designer from Norway) and Henrik Vibskov (fashion designer from Denmark).