What Is Trend Forecasting with Nina Bruun
This episode features Nina Bruun, a designer, trend-spotter, and consultant. We cover topics such as advice to young professionals who are just starting, working with a personal assistant, what is trend spotting and how Nina does it, ideas on how to continually grow and develop yourself, and much more.
As a designer went industry professional, Nina has carved out a niche on the Nordic design scene as a leading source on interior trends, color knowledge, and design forecasting, as evidenced in several features including Wallpaper, Design Milk, Herald Tribune, Washington Post, and many others. Also, as an accomplished designer, Nina has received a Red Dot Design Award and has work accepted in the permanent collection at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.
"We shouldn’t be afraid of each other. We’ll all become way better designers if we’re better at sharing and caring."
In 2016, Nina established her Creative Consultancy based in Copenhagen. With commercial insights, experience, and a personal passion, they create customized solutions within the fields of trends, colors, product-designs, graphics, and visual brand identity.
- Introduction [00:00]
- Episode Introduction [00:51]
- Advice to Young Designers [02:29]
- How to Grow As a Creative Professional [08:59]
- Personal Assistant As the Best Investment [13:30]
- Short Episode Break – Support the Podcast [23:13]
- Key Challenges Creative Industries Are Facing [23:57]
- Nina’s Current Struggle [26:44]
- What Is Trend Spotting and How to Work With Trends [29:52]
- How to Be a Better Creative Professional [35:54]
- Episode Outro [39:42]
Nina: “Money should never be the reason why you do something creative because you risk not doing the right thing because it’s about the money and not about the creative result.”
This is the Creative Voyage Podcast, a long form interview show with the mission to help creative professionals to level up. I’m your host Mario Depicolzuane. I’m a creative professional myself active in the fields of graphic design, art direction, and creative consulting. In this podcast, I present in depth interviews with some of the world’s most inspiring creative professionals revealing the stories that shape their lives and careers, plus actionable strategies to help you take your mindset and skills to the next level. I invite you to join me on this journey.
Mario: In this episode, I talked to Nina Bruun, a designer, trend spotter, and consultant. As a designer when industry professional, Nina has curved out a niche on the Nordic design scene as the leading source on interior trends, color knowledge, and design forecasting as evident in several features including Wallpaper, Design Milk, Herald Tribune, Washington Post, and many others. Also, as an accomplished designer, Nina has received a Red Dot Design Award and has her award accepted in the permanent collection at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York.
In 2016, Nina established her creative consultancy based in Copenhagen. With commercial insights, experience and a personal passion to create customer solutions within the fields of trends, colors, product design, graphics and visual brand identity. I also had a pleasure of working with Nina on a couple of projects and I really admire her attention to detail, professionalism, and especially her energy, which she always brings to the table.
In this episode, we’re going to listen to the highlights of the conversation I had with Nina in Copenhagen during the 3daysofdesign 2019. It was in front of a live audience at The Audo, a hybrid space facilitating and celebrating human interaction, connection, and artistic expression through uniting design, work/life, hospitality and community in one. In our conversation, we cover topics such as advice to young professionals who are just starting, working with a personal assistant, what is trend spotting and how Nina does it, ideas on how to continually grow and develop yourself and much more.
Nina Bruun comes from a creative family. So in a way, she always felt that, that is where her life was going. Hence, she finds her work as a part of her social legacy. Perhaps as a part of the natural youthful rebellion, for a few years, she did very different things, including a short stint as a real estate agent. But all those things weren’t fulfilling. After that she realized that creativity is more than her heritage, it was her calling. Despite that, and the fact that she holds a Master’s degree in Furniture and Spatial design from the Royal Danish Academy of Design, it took until her later 20s while working on her first job at Muuto, to start feeling like a creative professional. In her own words, meeting the world with what I did as a professional made me feel professional. The first lessons we learned in those early stages of our careers are often hard earned and extremely valuable. So I began my conversation with Nina asking her about the advice she would give her younger self at the time, but also to young professionals who are just starting out today.
Nina: I remember when I started working with Muuto, I was surrounded by some extremely talented designers and professionals, and I felt like I weren’t able to do anything. I thought I knew nothing. They talked about other designers and I would be like, I have no clue who they’re talking about. And I did my best to become wiser in the industry. So every time someone mentioned someone that I didn’t know who it was, I would go home and I would google it to become wiser. And I would want to tell myself to relax because it takes time. It takes time to become a talented designer, it takes time to know the industry.
Nina: And I think it took me half a year to actually feel like that I was able to do something. And it’s an advice that I’ve given a lot of people along the way who’s been frustrated about the fact that they didn’t feel like they were able to do anything when they started a new job. They found it really difficult and they felt that they weren’t good enough. And it takes time to feel good enough and it’s alright because you are good enough, and you’re going to get wiser and it just takes time.
Mario: So then let’s follow that thread. And I guess this is one piece of advice to relax. But then I’m curious, there’s more and more young professionals joining the creative industry and the industry itself is becoming, in a way, maybe more complex because the fields are merging and there’s a lot of disruptive things happening as well, and I’m sure you work with a lot of young talent as well also doing things like this, like your talks, but also in your studio. So I’m curious if you have any piece of advice for people who are entering into creative industry, either as, in general, a creative professional or more specifically in design and interiors?
Nina: Yeah. If we talk about young, creative people as in when they’re still studying, I want to say, and maybe it seems wrong because it’s a little bit the opposite of relaxing, what I’m going to say now, but I found it very fruitful to do a lot of work on the side of my studies. I had my own company alongside doing my Bachelor and my Master’s, I started a little company where I worked as a graphic designer. On the side of that I had a creative job at a newspaper where I was informative graphic designer. And I think being out and a part of a business, a big business, which the newspaper was, it helped me to understand what it takes to be a part of a company. I learned so much along the way and I think that I really got a lot of things with me on that journey, so to speak. I mean, when I started on the other side and I had finished my Master’s, I already knew so much about being in a company that was a creative company and I think that’s very important.
Nina: So, I want to say if you can get internships, if you can get a good job, I know it’s hard, but that’s my best advice. Try as many things as possible and try to be a part of a company. I was an intern at Muuto when I was at the School of Design and that was also why I got a job afterwards and that job was absolutely a stepping stone to the career that I have today.
Mario: And in the same topic, let’s say if somebody, that young professional is looking at you today and it’s inspired, and it’s like, oh, I want to be somewhere where Nina is when I get there but in my way, let’s say, is there anything else that you could advise because the thing is, I guess what you do at the beginning or doing your studies can be in a way different than how to go through all these different ...
Nina: Yeah. I want to say, I find it quite important to ... and I’m not talking necessarily about social media, but having an online presence, I think that’s quite important. It can be quite easy to make your own website to make sure that people can always find you and you build up a portfolio, even if it’s your school projects, build that portfolio and make it possible for people to find you and see who you are. And don’t be afraid to show your work. Be proud. I mean, be proud of what you do even if it’s a two week project.
Nina: Thinking about my own way and my approach to that, I decided for myself when I was at the design school, that I wouldn’t be afraid of the press. I had a lot of fellow students who wouldn’t want to talk to the press because they were shy, and I have full respect for that, but I think it’s a good decision to decide for yourself not to be afraid. I did a school project that I send off to a competition for students and I won that competition, which resulted in me being proud of the project. Sending it out in the world, different blocks, and that resulted in me having so many image hits on Google and I ended up getting an email from the Museum of Arts and Design in New York asking if they could require my chair for their permanent collection.
Nina: And it’s there today in the permanent collection, which is amazing, but that was only because I was like, okay, I’m going to send it out in the world. I’m going to send this picture of this chair to someone who might post it. And I did that quite a lot, try to get my workout even though it was these short school projects.
As the famous quote by Jim Rohn goes, formal education will make you a living, self education will make you a fortune. I believe that self education is a crucial part of our job as creatives and entails the development of our craft and professionalism. I was curious to hear how Nina manages that.
Nina: I actually I do spend a lot of time thinking about exactly that these days. I’ve had two and a half years with my own company and it’s been going really fast. We’re seven people in my company today and I’ve gone from being an employee to becoming a leader over two and a half years and I still have so much to learn. And I find it hard to keep on getting wiser, getting better, staying curious when I still have the company strategy to look at. All the clients, as you mentioned, all these things that gives butter on the bread, but I really try to stay curious. So I try to listen to good podcasts, I love podcasts. I try to read, try to go to talks, try to go to fairs, but it’s something that I would actually like to put into my calendar to actually give the time that it deserves and needs in order for me to become better professional or more professional.
Mario: Yeah, that makes sense. I started doing that ... One of the things I want to do in my life is read books. One of the best resources to learn to grow. And then I actually started having like a thing in my calendar where it’s like, read a book. And it means it can be like 15, or 20, or 30 minutes a day, it can be an audio book or printed book, but it’s like a thing which is every day there and there’s that and a couple of other small things which are, let’s say, if I check that off, I’m good, it’s a success.
Nina: Yeah. I think another thing that’s important for my growth is to just being curious in everyday life. It was funny, I’ve tried to be quite aware of that. I just went to Italy and to try to take pictures of things that I found quirky, and beautiful, and funny but that has nothing to do with the industry, but it’s just to collect these beautiful aesthetic moments that could be some beans on a plate or it could be the ceiling of a beautiful building. So try to stay curious and bring these things that has nothing to do with my professional life into my professional life.
Nina: So I just used a lot of these pictures in my presentation in London, and I just found that really nice to connect it that way around, to be aware of things that are not beautiful because it was made to be beautiful, but it’s beautiful because it is as it is.
Nina: I often say yes to things that I find really hard. Let’s do an example, I find it really nice to sit here now, it’s a conversation. But doing a talk, I find that very challenging and I can get really nervous. I like the conversation way better. I just went to London to do this talk and I without a doubt said, yes, because I was really scared of it. I was really scared of going and doing this talk for some people that are really hardcore professionals, people that I really respect.
Nina: And to stand there in front of so many people and being the expert, I can find that hard at times. But it’s very much saying yes to things that I’m scared of in order to get wiser and better at what I do.
Mario: Do you think that’s something that’s part of your character in a way or were you like that always?
Nina: Yeah. I’ve had periods of my life where I was way more shy and I think I’m very extrovert, but I’m also a bit introvert at times. There are things that I do find it hard. Before going to this talk in London, I contacted my mother’s cousin, who’s an actor, and she does these presentation technique courses, so I did that with her. And I actually think I’m going to do it again because it was really good but I still felt that I could use a little more help, yeah, because I really admire people who are good at presenting. I think that’s so cool. Or doing a speech or whatever it is, even though it’s at a family birthday or something, yeah. I really want to be good at it. Yeah.
Mario: And I guess some people are naturally good at that but most people actually aren’t. The people that we see and usually admire, just work their way up through that and probably been doing hundreds of talks and then we see one talk and we were like, oh, wow.
Nina: Yeah. But I also think that, that is something that I need to work at, is the fact that I believe I find it hard that I’m not good at it. I need to understand that I need to earn being good at it.
Nina works as a designer, trend spotter, stylist, and leads a successful design consultancy. She’s extremely multifaceted. So I was interested in hearing about her schedule. Here she talks about her work routines and why hiring a personal assistant was the best investment she ever made.
Nina: I travel so much. So this year alone, I’ve been away for almost 50%, I’ve been very much away from the office. So it’s hard to say that I have a routine, but I have to say that a routine is most important thing for me. I really miss having a routine when I’m not home at the office. I have a PA, which is the best investment that I’ve ever made because I’m so much I creative, I don’t like to write emails, I don’t like to be super, what do you call it, doing all the administration things and stuff like that, I really don’t like that. So she is really good at routine. She helps me a lot at having a routine.
Nina: I think the most fixed thing in my life, when we’re talking about routine is, I try not to work after five, and I don’t work in the weekends if I can avoid it because my problem is I can work 24/7. There is so much to do all the time, so I actually try to limit my work. I do take my work with me when I’m off, so I will think about economy of project when I’m lying in my bed at night. I would lie if I said that it wasn’t that way. I spend a lot of energy on that. But when I’m at the office, I either sit in my own office, I have my own office, but I also really like to sit with my employees to be a part of what they do because the routine of the company is a very important for the routine that I spend time with my employees and I sit and I work with them.
Nina: So I try to catch up with all of them during maybe not a day, but at least a week. So I have one on one time with all of them going through projects, and yeah, really make them understand that I’m there for them if there’s something that they don’t understand. Some of them they work very independent on their projects. So they will need my guidance one way or another, but they also have a lot of time on their own. So I try to spend the time with them during a week and then I have the time for myself at the office. And that’s way more about sending out invoices, making sure the bills are paid, all these things that you don’t think about takes a lot of time.
Nina: So I do have these hours every week where I prioritize to sit in my own office and try not to be disturbed and take care of all the boring things.
Mario: So, there’s a few things that I would like to unpack. Let’s maybe start with what you just mentioned. So there’s this part of admin stuff, there’s part of managing, being a manager and leader, and then there’s also a part where you’re creating, doing probably what we’re doing more before. So I’m curious, how are you juggling that and also maybe, how is that divided these days?
Nina: Let me put it this way, I’m not very good at juggling with this. I wish I was way better at taking the time to create myself. That is for sure something that I also need to put in my calendar. Some projects are way more about being behind the computer and writing emails, and then there are the projects where you’re very creative. And I’ve had a lot of projects lately that’s been very email based, so I would really love to prioritize having the time to be creative. It’s something that I can sense that I’m lacking it. I’m lacking the really creative projects where I get to be the designer. I will never be 100% designer because I also take care of the administrative side of things.
Nina: I’m probably not so good at answering this question because I’m not so good at doing it.
Mario: No, but I was curious, what’s actually the current situation because that’s always the tension between those things.
Nina: Yeah. I think I’m trying to figure out how I, in my life and in my company, can be better at doing the very creative things. I guess we in the company called it, dream projects. So projects that doesn’t necessarily have a client because as soon as you take the client out of the equation, then you have way less administration. If you can do something because you think it’s funny, or you think it’s beautiful, or you think you’ll get wiser for yourself, then that’s where I get to be more creative. So I think if I can prioritize these projects where I get to be the client myself, that would help me. So doing projects that are there to answer some dreams, I don’t know, doing some projects that are maybe only about form or only about a specific material not about creating a new universe for a client.
Mario: Could you describe how is your consultancy setup currently? How many people there are. Is there a hierarchy or not, how do you work?
Nina: I’m quite the relaxed leader without a doubt. And there is a hierarchy but it’s built up. I have two graphic designers, I have a textile designer, I have a girl who’s educated within communication, she’s also my PA. So she does communication and PR projects and then she takes care of all of my things. And then I have two product designers. So that’s the structure right now. When I’m out of the office I will have one graphic, I mean, we’re seven people but the most experienced graphic designer will be taking care of that part, then I will have Sarah, who is my PA and educated with communication, she will take care of the office and if someone needs to get ahold of me, she’ll make sure that they get ahold to me if I’m not there. And then I have, Reta, who is a product designer and she’s been with me from the start and she will be in charge of products. So, that’s how it works when I’m not there. But when I’m there, I’ll always take care of everything and then talk to everyone.
Nina: I will always sign off on everything. Nothing goes out of the business without me being involved one way or another. It’s very important for me that when you deal with my company that you still deal with me. Of course, I’m not the one who makes all the graphic design or do all the products from scratch, but it’s important for me that it’s my ID and my values and quality that you get from working with my company and not only working with me.
Mario: And then third sub-question is bit more tactical perhaps. What I’m curious about is, how did you go about deciding to have a personal assistant? And then how did you go about getting one? Because that I think can often be a challenge.
Nina: It is. You do invite someone into your life 100%. I mean, I only have one email in my life, so it’s both the personal and the business one. So I have one person who knows almost everything about me, which is a little scary at times. But I think I realized that I received so many emails and we have quite a lot of projects running at once, and in order for me to do what I’m supposed to do to make these projects good, I needed someone to help me with all the writing. There is a lot of people who would like something from me one way or another, whether it’s because of the, my followers on Instagram people want me to ... I don’t do any sponsored work at all. I don’t believe that I as a taste maker, working with design and interior and stuff like that, I don’t believe that people can buy my opinion, so I don’t do sponsored work. It’s very important for me in what I do.
Nina: But there is a lot of people who would like that for me. And it’s been a huge help for me to have someone to help me to say, no, she’s like my filter because I’m not the one saying no, she’s the one saying no. And I am a sensitive person, I would lie if I said anything else. So it’s always good for me to have someone to help me to say no. Also when it’s a client who wants a 50% off of the price or whatever it is, it’s quite amazing to have someone that you trust and someone who can, without blinking and without feeling insecure, just write, you know what, I’m sorry, but this is the way it is.
Nina: And I found her or she was actually already with me in the company because she was already my employee, and she’s just super effective. So she just had way more time than I had work for her field. So suddenly it just make sense to give her that role because she really wanted it.
Nina: She’s the only non-creative person in my company, and I think it’s been quite important for her in her role to be so included, she knows everything about me and everything that I do, and because she’s not creative, it’s giving her another important role in the company. She feels very included. I think it was a very good decision when you think about that part of the information.
Mario: Yeah. So that was very much organic, I guess, in a way.
Nina: So organic, yeah. And I feel very lucky that it was.
Mario: I think basically what you hear people have been really struggle with finding that person that you can trust and you can have that relationship because it is a very sensitive role.
Nina: Absolutely. And I think one of the reason why it really works is that we are opposites, totally opposites. She is, not to say that I’m not structured, but you should see the way that she handles my email, it’s insane. It’s like if I don’t answer an email in two days she’ll be like, Nina, what’s up with that email? Can you please answer that email? I go home every day with an empty inbox and I think that’s quite rare to be able to say that. And I enjoy it a lot because I used to be very stressed about emails in my inbox if they were there for a long time, and now everything is answered every day, almost.
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Due to various cultural and technological forces, it seems that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to manage our creative careers. Nowadays, we have to navigate much more than what would traditionally be seen as our job. I’ve asked Nina to share what she thinks are the main challenges of being a creative professional working today.
Nina: I do believe there’s a lot of different challenges. I think it’s getting better with time but there is a lot of people who believe that work of creatives shouldn’t cost as much as other people’s work because it’s something that you think and you then create with your hands, or you create a shape in a computer or whatever it is, some people find it hard to understand that it takes a lot of time to do a good creative product or piece of work. I think it’s a challenge that some people don’t value and understand the work of creatives. I think that is a challenge for the industry. And when I say industry, I mean graphic, I mean photography, I mean stylist work product design. I think it’s something that really it can be very challenging.
Nina: I think we are lucky we have some good clients but we also have some clients who really pressure us because I don’t believe they, to the full extent, understand how long time we put into it.
Mario: Are you trying to overcome that or a new way that you present yourself to a potential clients during the, let’s say, process of onboarding a client, is there a way that you can?
Nina: Yeah, I really try to be transparent in the way that I work. So if we have a project, I really try to outline all the processes. So I will tell them exactly how many hours do we believe that we spent on this part of the project of this, and this, and this, and then I take everything into the budget. So that means the research, concept development, all these phases that a lot of people don’t always remember is a part of that creates process. So really try to be transparent in the way that I show people how we work. I think that’s quite important to really be transparent.
Mario: Do you think is there anything else?
Nina: Another challenge is that we are quite a lot of people who would love to live from being creative. We are a lot of creatives and hopefully, there will be more space and more work for creatives in the future because it looks like we will have more people who work from being freelancers, it looks like less and less companies are hiring all the resources that they want but they do hire freelancers for a certain period of time, and I think that is good for the creative industry.
There’s a misunderstanding nowadays undoubtedly perpetuated by the highlight reel we portray on our social media channels that others have everything figured out, which makes us feel that we are the only ones with struggles and hence in, some way, inferior or we merely feel bad. Of course, it’s far from the truth, and I think it’s essential to cover those pieces of our life in our cultural discussion. So I’ve asked Nina what her current professional challenges are.
Nina: One of my current struggles, which I also find it’s very personal actually and I think it’s also a very vulnerable thing for me. It causes me a lot of negative thoughts and that is that I tend to compare myself with companies who’s been on the market for a very long time. So I’m such a perfectionist and I’m also very competitive, not so much towards other people, but mainly to myself. So I give myself a lot of goals to reach, which can be very hard at times. Actually, I need to relax, I need to take it ... I’ve come so far in two and a half years, but I tend to compare myself with companies who’s been on the market for so many years.
Nina: And I actually forced myself to do something the other day to get myself a little down on that one. And that is I looked up the companies that I compare myself with and I don’t feel I reached the same level as they do in regards to results. So I went in and had a look at all of them and saw how long time they’ve been in the market. And the average was 11 years. And that made me realize, it’s a really wrong path for me to do that, I really need to relax on that. Yeah, because it causes me to doubt myself with no reason at all.
Nina: So that’s something very personal but something that I’ve spent a lot of energy on.
Mario: I mean, I can relate that I think it’s very common to see those people or companies that we admire, and just looks like so perfect, or their website looks great, or their Instagram is great.
Nina: Yeah. And they have a trillion launches every week and I’m just like, oh my God, I have one a year.
Mario: So yeah, that’s relatable for sure.
Nina: Yeah. And then another challenge is feeling like you’re working all the time because a creative brain can be hard to turn off, I find that challenging as well. I think it’s gotten a little better but I think that’s only because I replaced all the thoughts with all the administration.
Mario: That’s a hack.
Nina: It’s a hack but it’s not a good one. Yeah, that’s another challenge always thinking about work. So I might say to people, okay, don’t work at the five, I try not to work in the weekends. But then at the same time I think about work all the time. But it’s also because I love it. I live by my hobby, and my hobby is what I live by. So, that’s very lucky but that’s also a challenge because you need to find something else that you can relax with. My hobby is not to, I can’t even knit or something, if that was the case, I would maybe relax a little more.
Mario: But I guess in that sense, it’s also good that you, as you mentioned at the beginning, impose some of those limitations of leaving work at five and not working on the weekends, that’s a good way to try to-
Nina: And I mean, at least I have to try and then hopefully I will succeed to some extent on some of it.
Among the services which Nina’s consultancy provides to their clients, there’s a very particular one and that’s trend spotting or trend forecasting. Generally, trends tend to be a popular topic in our visual culture and something almost everyone has an opinion on. When it comes to working with trends as a professional though, the topic immediately becomes intricate and somewhat mysterious. As an expert on the subject, I’ve asked Nina how she defines and works with trends.
Mario: I remember during the season one of the podcasts I talked with Merijn Hose who is an illustrator from Utrecth and one thing that he said about that really stuck in my mind which was, if you follow trends, you’re always behind.
Nina: Yeah, I agree.
Mario: But I’m curious, how do you approach that?
Nina: Maybe it’s important just to explain to anyone who might be listening is how I work with trends in my company because how I mainly use it is I help specify materials and colors for bigger companies and it’s often really, really big companies. So they will hire me, ask me, what colors and materials should we be using in three years? So then I make them a palette. A lot of them I’ve been working with since I started my own business. So I make them a new palette every year. So it’s very much a specifying role that I have for these big companies. So it’s a no name job, I just help them to be able to follow along, so to speak.
Nina: I very much agree with you or your previous visitor on the fact that you should not follow trends as it is presented to us in a lot of medias and by a lot of companies. If we take Pantone, for an example, you cannot put one color to our time, it’s impossible. And I’m also like, why should we all go right now the color is living coral, and I’m like, if every company took that one as the trending color, no one would be trending. I don’t believe it worked that way. I think I have a relaxed approach to the topic and to the term. I try really to dig into, of course, what’s going on in the world that we live in and that goes for both politics, it goes for environmental issues, fashion, social media, so many different things that we look at, but I think it’s way more important to look at the company that you work with.
Nina: The real analysis is there. So looking at how they work and what values that they would like to represent, I find that being the core element in an assignment that deals with trends, and then I take the trends into the equation with them, and figure out what is the right answer here.
Nina: When I work with a company, often its colors, often its colors that I define or surfaces. It can be, how shiny is an object or how Matt is it? It can be, is it wool or is it polyester? But what I do if it’s colors, then I make a color scheme that should last for five years, maybe 10 years, and then I have a scale that works for a season or for a year. Often it’s a year. I try to push it to a year instead of it being three months or six months. When you have a scale, I really like The fact that you can combine, let’s say we have 10 colors, that all of the colors go well together. So you can pick number one and you can pick number seven, and they look really good together. But you can also pick number four and number five, and they’re really good together.
Nina: So I try to make that scale and a scale that should last for five years, let’s say five years, and then you can have that let’s take the living coral from Pantone, for example, then you add that to the long lasting scale. A scale that you believe, the long lasting one you believe will be complimenting a company’s profile for five years. Talking about trends, there’s of course both the long lasting and the short lasting and I’m a very speech woman for long lasting, but that’s also because I think the environment is so important. And if we went about colors and trends as they do in the fashion industry, I mean it’s only going one way. We spend so much money, so much material and we waste. There’s a tremendous waste in that industry and of course, there’s a waste in ours as well, but I think as long as we try to think and look at the big picture, we can come quite a long way. So I think it’s important to look at trends as something that should last a little longer than one year of a pink color.
Mario: Part of it is, I guess, the definition in a way because often, when you say trends, you think, oh, it’s this season.
Nina: Yes, exactly. If you look at a color as millennial pink, if you think about Acne Studios, their bags, that color has been trending since 2011. It’s just something that we don’t think about, but that’s a fact, that’s been a trending color for eight years, and that’s quite amazing. It is said to be such a trending color because it’s gender neutral. I’m not sure I agree, but it is said that it really brought the color into the men’s world as well and that it will soon have a replacement called neon mint. I’m excited to see if it has the same long lasting or a long life. I’m not sure, I don’t believe so.
Mario: When you work with clients, is there like a way to or do the clients even expect you to prove the success of your consultation regarding colors, or materials?
Nina: Yeah. I get tested quite a lot. It’s quite funny. I have meetings where I present something and then afterwards they would be like, okay, that’s really lucky for you because we’ve seen here and there that these colors are trending too and you’re just like, what? It’s really funny. No, I mean, I defined the colors that Muuto when I work with them, and it was quite interesting you could always ... Of course, I don’t have the same access to my clients sales numbers now, but back then it was quite easy to see when you did something right and when you did something wrong, because of course you do something wrong, that can always happen even though you do a great job times changes and so just trends as well.
We’ve come to the last topic of discuss with Nina, and as with other guests, I’ve asked her to highlight three pieces of advice based on what she learned so far on her professional journey. Here’s what Nina shared with me.
Nina: First of all, you should never do anything for money. Money should never be the reason why you do something creative because you risk not doing the right thing because it’s about the money and not about the creative result. I think it’s very important. And I think that goes very much together with the fact that if it doesn’t feel right, you shouldn’t do it. I’ve been asked to work with companies where I’ve said no, because it didn’t feel right. I couldn’t see my profile and my product in their universe, and then I say, no. I think it’s very important to remember to say no. Of course, sometimes you have to say yes in order to make the wheels go round. Without a doubt, I can’t take that away from the big picture. But I think it’s very important to say no, and that goes for, of course, every aspects in life. But I think it’s so important.
Nina: When I look back at myself, as a younger designer, I think I’ve said yes too many times because I was just so fascinated with the fact that someone wanted to work with me. So I’ve learned that. Yeah, and then, of course, everyone says this, but it’s also the most important thing, we just need to bring the environment into everything that we do. We do work with materialism, we do work with getting people to buy more objects, spend money, and I think we owe that to the world to make sure that we bring in the environment where we can, and we should always bring it in and sometimes Of course it’s more difficult than other times but it’s such an important topic and it’s important for us and for everyone else whose going to come after us.
Mario: Specifically around that topic, how do you in your practice implement that?
Nina: I got to say, I think it’s difficult and we can get much better at it. We’re not saints at all in the company, but we really try to think about it in everything that we do. We can take the product that I just launched with MENU and working with the wool instead of taking something that’s synthetic, I think that’s very important. So the materials, that’s one approach, but it’s also trying to get, I have a project right now with a wonderful South Korean company, and I’m helping them introduce some products in Europe. And we’re working on getting that produced in Europe, instead of getting it produced in South Korea and sending it here or getting it shipped to here. So it’s also thinking about the transportation. So having things locally produced, I try to do that with as many projects as possible.
Nina: But of course, it’s difficult. But if we can just get one environmental thing into every project, that should be the goal. Of course, it would be great if everything was great for the environment, but it’s probably one step at a time, but it’s better with one step than no step.
Nina: Then I just want to say the most important thing you can do is to surround yourself with good people. I’m not rich, but I’m rich in people and that is the most important thing for me. So, I mean, working with other professionals doing different things but also doing what I do is just so nice to work with good people.
Nina: Yes, that is amazing.
Mario: Great. So, before we wrap it up, is there anything else that you would like to mention?
Nina: I think one thing that I find quite important in the industry is sharing that we shouldn’t be afraid of each other. That of course there is a competitive factor to the business, but I think we will all become way better designers if we’re better at sharing and caring, that goes together, I think that’s important.
Mario: Perfect. Thank you, Nina. Then we can wrap this up.
Nina: Thank you, Mario.
Mario: Thank you all.
Hey friends, that’s it for this episode. I believe we touched on a lot of useful information for anybody out there interested in design, styling, trends, and development as a creative professional. I want to thank Nina for coming onto the show during this special live recording of the podcast at The Audo in Copenhagen. In my opinion, she holds a very relevant position in the design industry, both in the Nordics and internationally, so I’m grateful for the wonderful insights she shared with me. The links to Nina’s work, as well as to some other things mentioned during our conversation can be found in the show notes at creative.voyage/podcast.
After a long break since the completion of season one of the podcast, I’m thrilled to be back with this new episode. By the way, I’ve dropped the season format and will be releasing episodes organically throughout the year. Stay tuned since a lot of great things are coming up starting with the next new episode, which is coming in two weeks. In the meantime, you can follow @creative.voyage on Instagram, and if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe. Until next time my friends, take care.
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