First We Take Berlin

Flowers, I had to get some flowers. You see, no photo of life in Berlin would be complete without an impromptu vase and a few colorful blossoms sticking out. I threw my hands in the air and in my broken German explained to the lady in the flower-shop what kind of a bouquet I would like: “Typische berlinische ... alle gemischt!” It all started a few weeks before with an email to Alenka where I mentioned I would be going to Berlin. With her signature fast-thinking she put two and two together and before I knew it we were arranging a photoshoot for FLIIKE in Berlin. There were not just perfectly nonchalant flowers to be found but also a photographer and an inspiring individual who is compatible with Kaaita lifestyle, and has – what luck! – a sleek office space and a job that sounds so interesting. The woman in front of whose doors I was standing with a big grin and even bigger bouquet is all that and more. For one thing, she is Swedish, a bonus, because everything they touch somehow gets that I-don't-care elegance, her part time office is a beautiful all white living room in the middle of Friedrichshain and she also takes great photos for among others Freunde von Freunden, where creatives all over the world show us how they live. Oh, and as a graphic designer she works for interior and fashion magazines like Sköna hem and Styleby which was my cue that we would get along very well indeed. Here is a behind the scenes chat with Ms. Hanna Skoog, who is as all of us women fresh in our thirties thinking of moving and staying, of focusing on just one thing and getting her talents all over the place, and of course having, no, not a baby, a dog. How fabulously gemischt!

Do you find that photography is now more your thing?

I really really enjoy it. Shooting interiors, where you can set up your own creative space, or people, which is more spontaneous. Right now I am really into weddings, but yesterday I was shooting cakes and drinks for a bar around the corner called Aunt Benny. That's the charm of photography, you go out, you meet people and you're challenging yourself because you’re depended on the light, on your camera, the people you are shooting.

You've been doing graphic design for 8 years now, where did it all begin? When we non-Swedes hear someone has been working as an art director at Ikea we think it must have been great.

Oh, it was, definitely. My first job at Ikea was as a sales assistant in London, actually, shortly after high school. Then I applied for all sorts of jobs in Älmhult, a town in the middle of nowhere which is the heart of Ikea. I worked in costumer service which, to be honest, was hell, getting phone calls from people who have a missing screw, literally. Ikea communication house where the catalog is produced was the building right opposite of ours so I was always looking over there hoping one day I'll make it. I went to study graphic design in Sydney as I always wanted to go to Australia. Back in Sweden I was first an assistant to art director and then art director at Ikea Communications.

How is it working on such a famous catalog like Ikea's?

It is a never ending story. They start planning it in the summer or September, when Ikea's year starts. The production begins in January and goes on until April or May, it goes to print in summer. And you also need to do all the translations for every country and maybe change the layouts. It is a long procedure.

Did you as art director have any influence on how the catalogue looked or is it very by the book?

They have their guidelines, yes. That is why it was so much fun to move on to magazines!

Oh, the wonderful world of glossy magazines!

I found it very free and encouraging. At Ikea you only had one typeface and the magazine had maybe three or four and they were like, you can use whichever is suitable. Do you really mean that I can use this typeface for this layout?! I quit Ikea to work on a magazine called Yourlife. After that I went to interior magazine Sköna hem, started freelancing and moved here.

Why did you decide to come to Berlin?

My boyfriend lives here and after commuting back and forth for more than three years we just felt something had to be done. He had a good job and I also thought I could start freelancing. In Stockholm you really don't get an apartment that easily, you have to move around every few months, so I just felt I didn't have my own base. I moved here last winter, in January.

A horrible month to move here.

It was so cold, so dark, but it was like that in Sweden as well. It was more fun here, but overall it was a tough year, it was tough this winter, too. Now we will see what happens. Maybe I will move back to Sweden.

How come?

I have to be realistic about my finances and my passion for work. I love what I am doing, I love my job in Stockholm. It is a bit ridiculous to live here when my work is actually there. I also feel like the money I make I end up spending on airplane tickets. And as I am getting older it is really nice to be back home.

It will continue. Don't miss part two.

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