Just in time for the long weekend, we’re lucky enough to have the talented Emily Ranneby on the line to chat with us all the way from Stockholm. Emily has been a part of our community since August of 2008 and is known for her elegant, understated designs that reflect her European environs.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a designer?
I grew up in a very creative household. My mom was a bit of a Martha Stewart craft/cook/baker/sewer extraordinaire. So we were always making things. Creating things. But it wasn’t until I was in graduate school, a major in creative writing, that I decided to change my focus and concentrate on design.
Picture of Emily by Lili Meng
Do you have any formal design training?
I am currently on maternity leave from my position as a design art director at GYRO:HSR, an international advertising communications agency. I also run a creative studio, Salt&Syrup, part time from my home office. In practical terms, I have a master’s degree in magazine design and communication, which has been supplemented with illustration classes. And I have been formally trained in letterpress printing and photopolymer platemaking at the San Francisco Center for the Book.
How would you describe your style?
Oh boy. I find it complicated to describe my style. Which probably stems from having different tastes that sort of walk all over each other. But there a few design standards that never go away. I like clean designs. I believe that design should not be overly complicated. So I have a tendency to simplify things. If I am working with photographs, I almost always recommend to a client to go black and white. I am nuts about black and white photography. You can take a mediocre photograph and make the most beautiful composition with it, simply by going black and white.
What is your normal workflow or process like?
I am a bit obsessive by nature. So once I have an idea in my head (or I have received a brief from a client), I can’t stop thinking about it. I work things out in my head. I scribble notes in a notebook. I do research on the subject/market. I get myself inspired any way I can. These days the process has had to adapt a little. After the birth of my son Oscar, five months ago, I steal an hour here and there. I still work a lot of things out in my head, but there is a bit of a backlog on actually executing the ideas. Playing patty-cake at least 801 times a day takes precedence.
How many iterations does it take for a design to become final?
I am actually a supporter of many iterations. Seriously. I can stew over things for weeks. Like many designers, I am a bit of a perfectionist. But there is a completely different side of me that is unbelievably stubborn. And if I think I have hit the mark on the first try, I refuse to change things. Which is not always in the best interest of the project.
What tools, techniques, and mindsets do you find absolutely essential?
I am a bit different from other creatives I know. When I am starting a new project, I prefer absolute quiet.
What is your favorite thing to design?
Anything for the wee little ones. And I dream about working with food. Food styling. Food magazines. Food packaging.
Do you have a favorite font?
No. I go through phases. But I am quite taken with just about anything designed by Ale Paul. His work is gorgeous.
Inspired by designs of the 1940s, romantic Adios Script is one of Alejandro Paul's most elaborate and technically refined faces.
Anything inky and gooey. Those cheapy Bic pens in the states are fabulous. We can’t get those in Stockholm.
Favorite design tool?
Is it too easy to say my Mac??
What was your wedding invitation like?
Our wedding stationery was quite simple. It can probably best be described as a modern day, black and white garden party of sorts. I modeled the illustration work after a wallpaper pattern that I had fallen in love with at the time. And everything was printed on Mohawk Superfine Eggshell. I have a bit of a love affair with that paper. It is so luscious.
Picture by Fern Living
Did you send out a family Christmas card? If so, what was it like?
Just before the holidays we moved house. Our new apartment is a 1930s functionalistic design gem that we are renovating. So I wanted our holiday cards to compliment this. And while I didn’t have the time (or the energy!) this year to design a set of cards for myself, I got lucky. I found some gorgeous vintage inspired cards by Norwegian designers Darling Clementine.
Picture by Darling Clementine
Picture by Darling Clementine
Tell us about one of your favorite cards offered for sale on Minted and how you came up with the design.
I am particular about Truck Parade, the children’s birthday party invitations. I was experimenting with patterns and repetition during that time. I hadn’t done so much pattern work before, and I found that it is really quite difficult. I admire designers who work with wallpaper and textile design.
Truck Parade Children's Birthday Party Invitation
What was your favorite Minted design challenge and why?
Probably the first one. It was actually my husband that read an article about Minted and encouraged me to submit something. I was really hesitant. I didn’t anticipate anything to come out of it. But I think I won something like three editorial wins. It was a lovely surprise to be embraced by the Minted community so quickly. It was very, very flattering.
Modern Loop Thank You Cards
Classic Diamonds Thank You cards
How long have you lived in Stockholm and what brought you to Sweden? Where did you move from?
I have been in Stockholm for four and a half years. My husband is from northern Sweden. After living in the states for eight years, he was ready to go home (or at least move across the Atlantic). We moved from San Francisco.
How does living in Stockholm influence your design?
Scandinavia is very rich in design. And when you live in an environment where design is so highly valued, you start to think about design differently. I have been very fortunate to live and work here. The experience has been a lesson in understanding that great design is not only about beautiful compositions and pretty colors. Great design is understanding how to marry your designs with function. I’ve acquired a lot of discipline from working here.
What differences are there between how Americans and Europeans view both design and stationery in particular?
This is a bit of a complicated question, since it is so broad. For example, the United Kingdom is nuts about stationery. Their love affair with stationery equals, if not surpasses, that of Americans. Whereas, the same cannot be said of Scandinavia. But I think the interest in paper/stationery products is and has been growing steadily (albeit slowly). It is wonderful (and frustrating all at the same time) to be a part of the paper movement that is happening here.
What are the top five restaurants of places you would recommend a visitor check out?
I should preface this by saying both my husband and I are vegetarians, so we don’t eat traditional Swedish food. Nonetheless, the list should please both veggies and meat eaters alike.
1. Tabbouli Unbelievably tasty Lebanese food. The small plates (mezes) make for a festive atmosphere. These guys actually catered our wedding. Three locations in the city. Reservations are a must.
2. Master Anders A little American/French/Swedish bistro that is an absolute find. Good food. Good drink. And a genuine, cozy atmosphere complete with black and white tiles. Reservations are a must unless you want to just pop in for a drink at the bar like we often do (Ert. Did. Now we are responsible parents of a five month old.).
3. Indian Curry House Stockholm has more indian restaurants than you would care to count. But this quiet, unassuming hole in the wall serves some of the city’s best indian.
Teany tiny authentic Italian kitchen. What this place lacks in square footage, it more than makes up for in the dishes. Reservations are a must.
5. Hermans I was hesitant to put this place on here, as they serve strictly vegetarian. But it would be a shame to miss it (especially if you come during the summer). They not only have an outstanding all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet, but they have some of the best views over the water/city. During the summer, you can sit out in the garden, which is set over three different levels.
Where do you go for design inspiration?
Oh gosh. If I am to be honest, it really depends on what the project is. And what I need inspiration for. But if I just want to be inspired, then I turn to my running list of links to designers, illustrators and photographers that I admire. I pop into their sites to see what they have been working on. Or I browse my favorite blogs, which usually takes me somewhere completely unexpected. And sometimes I just do a bit of online creative window shopping. I also have a tendency to read back issues of design annuals.
Where do you like to shop? What are your favorite stores?
Anthropologie. Anthropologie. Anthroplogie. That store makes me swoon. I am a complete Etsy addict, as well.
What designers do you really admire?
Ooooh. There are a lot of fabulous, inspiring designers. Hands down Shinzi Katoh is someone I keep coming back to, again and again. There is no shortage of creativity in his work. Darling Clementine, from Norway, is doing some fabulous things with stationery. Blanca Gomez of Cosas Minimas is addictive. Right now, I am completely stuck on the print work of Camilla Lundsten. Her style is just so perfect in every way.
Kanina and Mascot. Two characters from Camilla Lundsten's sweet collection
Lettersets by Shinzi Katoh, picture found on http://johnboerckel.wordpress.com/2009/05
What advice would you give a new designer?
Try to find inspiration in the most unlikely places. Vintage bed sheets. Wallpaper scraps. Children’s books. Food packaging. But on a more practical level, there is something to be said for taking the time to understand production. Particularly designing for different print methods. It is an absolute essential building block that I see so many young designers just sort of gloss over.
Thanks Emily! Have a lovely long weekend. And a very Happy Valentine’s Day to all. xoxoxo
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