Blog » by Chesley

French Typography & Signage

Signage is one of my favorite aspects of travel, so much so, that sometimes it feels like it’s all I take pictures of. Upon moving to Paris, I knew to expect a lot from the food, architecture, art, nature, etc, but I completely forgot how wonderful the typography is! The above is a short video by Live the Language highlighting Paris through its typography, I suggest checking out their videos for London, Barcelona and Beijing as well.

PS. French handwriting? Off the hook!

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Himmelriket + LunchLaget

The lounge area, I love that all of the work spaces are clustered off but the overall vibe is open.

My workspace behind the cubbyholes, with a skylight above. There's a courtyard up there, and sometimes children knock on the window and wave. It's cute.

LunchLaget, Moa (right) made spanish tortillas inspired by a recent work trip to Madrid.

My search for a co-working space in Stockholm was short and sweet. Believe it or not, there are way more options then googling in english will find you. Upon moving here, I came across a number of frilanskollectivs, The Hub, Coffice and Kolonien being a few, but none of them had everything I was looking for: a central location, the ability to have my own desk and a sense of community.

Recommendations from Swedish friends (Gustaf and Heidi), kept bringing me back to Himmelriket, or Heaven Below. It’s a subterranean cave-like den in the heart of Södermalm with a mix of photographers, musicians, graphic designers, and fashion people. While my old studio in Brooklyn had huge windows with a truly amazing view, here there are only a few skylights dotted around. At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this lack of light, but then I realized, if it’s going to be dark most of time I’m here, it’s probably better for my psyche to not know it. Himmelriket also came with my own desk, and more drawers and shelves than I could ever fill, especially because I came here with only two bags (one of which is dedicated to winter clothing).

The best part of this studio is LunchLaget, or Lunch Team. Every day, one member of the team makes lunch for the other 15 or so of us. Not only is it money-saving, it’s delicious — I leave every lunch thinking “Damn these Swedes can cook!”. And I mean seriously, many pick their own mushrooms and bake their own bread! As I’m just learning to cook, my first few turns were terrifying and somewhat disasterous: pots were ruined, large holes were burnt into rugs, meals were…weird. And yet somehow I’ve actually begun to look forward to my cooking day, thanks in part to my jazzy new recipe pinboard!

English phrases overheard in the middle of Swedish conversations

(A running list)

Junior size
Airbrush tanning
Civil rights defenders
Hands-on
You win some you lose some
Happy days
Super simple
Off you go
Quick and dirty
Highly appreciated
And we have a winner
Like when I’m really drunk
Sounds like Aerosmith, no, in the style of Aerosmith
The best things in life are free
Cute as cute can be
You have a boyfriend, what the hell!
An “It Girl”
Yo Bitch!
Thank you for always saving my ass
Dance like no one is watching
Can of worms
Bo-ring
Size matters
ah, business and pleasure
cat fight

How to Open a Milk Carton in Sweden

How To Open Milk in Sweden

A few weeks ago I was in the kitchen sawing through a milk carton with a knife, which was actually my go-to method for opening them. The Swedish milk carton has beguiled us for months now, it’s looks simple and it tells you where to tear, but it’s doesn’t tell say that you need to first squeeze the carton in a certain is-this-milk-going-to-explode-if-I-do-this kind of way. The cartons are small, so we go through them quickly, which has afforded me many an opportunity to ponder ideas like If Swedes are known for considered functional design, how can this be a Swedish product? Is it possible that this package design predates that school of thought? The cartons are also slippery, so when a particularly big splash of milk hit me after a fairly aggressive saw, I took a moment to stop and officially resign myself to the fact that I might never know how to correctly open one of these cartons, and should instead start asking myself how I might learn to saw it open more gracefully the next time.

It was only recently, at a Swedish friend’s apartment, that I finally learned how these cartons are best opened. The solution feels neither elegant nor “Swedish” in my  2-month-old view of what “Swedishness” is, but it is certainly better than “the saw”, and it’s with some shame that I admit it was unlikely I was going to put it together on my own. So, in the spirit of everyone who has ever contributed to a forum, written a blog post, or answered a Yahoo answer about how to deal with the little things as an American in a Sweden (there are many and I reference them quite often), I submit my own minor contribution, a guide to opening the Swedish milk carton.

“Travel Like a Human”

airbnb la

Los Angeles loft for $75/night

If you don’t yet know about airbnb, and like to travel, then welcome to something really marvelous! Called “Ebay for space” by Time Magazine, airbnb is a service that allows you to rent out your extra space (a couch, a room, your whole place, etc) for short or long periods of time. Or you can forgo hosting, sign up as a traveler and stay at these places, which are usually nicer, cheaper and way more interesting than a hotel room.

N and I have done both the hosting and traveling, and can’t recommend this service enough – in fact Heidi is hosting us right now in Stockholm, and it’s wonderful to stay with someone who knows the city.

I could go on and on about airbnb, but I think their (really great) website speaks for itself. I’ll just leave you with this, if you’re in San Francisco, Ivan and Wendy’s is amazing!

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Light & Dark

The lamps above by Daniel Rybakken are designed to mimic the effect of sunlight shining through windows and reflecting off surfaces. That’s key for the depths of Swedish winter, where the sun is out for a mere 5 hours a day. (Also, for those who don’t know, Sweden’s long dark winter days are countered by equally long summer days, when it’s dark for only 6 of the day’s 24 hours.) As someone who knows a thing or two about Seasonal Affective Disorder, welcome to the first of what will probably be many posts tagged “Light Therapy”. Via Inhabitat.

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How I’d Like to Spend a Year in Stockholm

  • Check out renting desk space at The Hub (a co-working space, somewhat similar to my beloved Studio 612a in Brooklyn), and continue graphic designing for existing and new clients as Dossier.
  • Travel, a lot! Major dream destinations nearby include: Berlin, Prague, Copenhagen, Istanbul, Switzerland, Vienna, Amsterdam, Poland, the rest of Sweden…and unexpected side trips off the beaten track.
  • Get inspired by (and learn from) the Swedish/Scandanavian design aesthetic: simple, functional and fun. A few good examples: Swedishness, a web shop for selected, well designed Swedish products, From Scandanavia With Love, a tumblr blog all about Scandanavian design and interiors & emmasblogg, a wonderful interiors blog by a decorating assistant in Stockholm.
  • Learn to knit. (Friends, be prepared to only get knit gifts from me in the future.)
  • Hone my cooking skills. I’ve finally come to enjoy cooking this past year, not that I can claim to do it often. Given Sweden’s long cold winter, and expensive restaurants, I think I’ll find myself cooking a lot more. Related: Fika! Glogg!
  • Get a yoga & exercise routine going again. Oh how easily it slips away.
  • Attempt to learn Swedish.
  • Continue learning jQuery.
  • And finally, do it all with my Nate.