Monday, March 1, 2010

Oh those Swedes!/ Olle Eksell

Olle Eksell, many may recognize his work or perhaps it may remind you of a genre that seems to evoke memories of childhood storybooks, they do for me! Olle Eksell was a Swedish graphic designer whose main body of work was executed in the 1950s. He worked as an illustrator, a writer, a branding expert, an editorial designer, a fabric and textile designer. He spent some of his early career in Los Angeles but returned to his native Sweden to be part of shaping graphic design and branding in that country. Olle pioneered many corporate identity projects, which were still a novelty when he started his career. He also designed and illustrated magazines, reports and a line of home wares that still exists inspired by his designs.

It always amazes me that peoples careers and lives, their whole body of work can be sometimes largely unrecognized at least in English speaking countries, Not much can be found in English on Olle but his work is so distinctive and really speaks in volumes about an era that is so revered and admired once again. When you look at the work of Andy Warhol from this same period when he worked as an illustrator for Bergdorf Goodman in the 1950’s there are parallels. Also the work of Paul Rand, another famous American graphic designer and of course Alexander Girard, whose branding and textile design of the same era I first discovered at The Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum in NYC in 2000, in a retrospective of his work.

I love and collect vintage fabrics from this era and genre, owning many yards of fabric that I am itching to find the right use for. The style of Olle just seems so whimsical and clever, graphic but with personality, I wish designers now were still able to produce work with the same flair and humor.

Olle only died 3 years ago in 2007, you can find a book on his work at, I recommend it!

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