I’ve followed the work of Lundgren+Lindqvist for a long time now, having posted many of their sites on siteInspire and admired their work from afar. So I’m thrilled that Andreas and Carl-Johan agreed to give us some insight into their studio and working practices — Daniel Howells
Who is Lundgren+Lindqvist? Tell us about the agency, and your backgrounds.
Lundgren+Lindqvist is a two-man design & development bureau consisting of Andreas Friberg Lundgren (Art Director) & Carl-Johan Lindqvist (Web Developer). Working both in isolation and as parts of bigger teams together with agencies and freelancers the projects that we take on stretch from branding to print- and web design and development. Among our clients you will find both multinational corporations, cultural organizations as well as other creatives and start-ups. We take pride in working with and for people within many different fields as this means a process of constant learning and a broadening of our understanding of what goes on around us, on a daily basis. This helps us produce better work.
Andreas, who was an active graffiti artist for many of his young years, first fell in love with graphic design through his early career as a DJ where record covers and club posters soon became as interesting as the music they promoted.
Carl-Johan was also mainly focused on graphic design and printed matter for several years, before rejuvenating his interest in programming and starting developing for the web in a more serious way.
Having know each other since the upper secondary school, we both freelanced for a while and got an offer of renting a space in a basement studio where two mutual friends produced music. At the time, we were both studying second term English, at the University of Gothenburg, and neither of us had any clear plans for the future. Sharing the same space we fairly soon realized that we would both benefit from working together. We set up Lundgren+Lindqvist with an initial goal of working in advertising - we even had a copywriter onboard for the first year - but soon realized that we would rather focus on the design and development side of things.
Andreas - I’m assuming that you are classically print oriented. How have you transitioned to web design production over the past few years? What skills have you had to develop that have helped you provide a web design and development offering?
For me, the transition from print to digital started out of necessity. Setting up our bureau, back in 2007, it was rather hard getting well-paid commissions doing print work. We did a fair amount of club posters but - unfortunately - that did not pay the bills. Around that time, companies were becoming increasingly aware of the value of an efficient website. Being unestablished, it was hard for us to approach the corporate heavyweights. Hence, we turned to the start-ups and smaller companies who were often keen on finding affordable alternatives to the big agencies. These companies often had small budgets which they would rather invest in a website than in stationary and annual reports.
As our projects often involve structuring large amounts of content it is key to acquire an understanding of how people react and behave in certain situations. Only by doing that, we can create efficient and compelling communication.
Having said so, we approach every project with the same set of basic rules which are rather focused on questions of what is good communication-wise than on the media as such. Attention to detail is also key. Each media has its own set of possibilities and we always try to bring the most out of the project at hand. A strong idea is the basis and when needed, we support it by medium specific techniques such as a foil-block on a high quality paper or pixel perfect iconography.
The main skills, apart from the obvious ones concerning design and development, that we have spent a lot of effort developing is within strategical thinking and behaviorism. As our projects often involve structuring large amounts of content it is key to acquire an understanding of how people react and behave in certain situations. Only by doing that, we can create efficient and compelling communication.
How do you both work when producing a website: do you both work on the design together from the outset, or do you hand off design to Carl-Johan and leave him to it? Or is it truly collaborative, where you work closely together throughout the entire process?
Our process is very collaborative and we start off each new project by analyzing and discussing it together. After this initial phase, in which we establish where we want to go with the project, Andreas starts working on the design of the site. Meantime, Carl-Johan might be investigating solutions for a new functionality feature that we have in mind, or working on another project.
We sit down regularly to discuss to discuss the design in regards to functionality in order to make sure that these two, equally important features, are always aligned.
When the main design is finished and approved by the client, Carl-Johan starts the process of converting the flat design to a functioning web site. An important aspect of this alpha phase of the development, besides building the HTML structure and the CSS design framework, is highlighting potential problems within the strategy, design or programming of the site. When the alpha version of the site is ready, we again sit down together and discuss any problems that might have come up, analyzing how the initial ideas on design and structured have transferred into the browser environment.
The next step is finalizing a beta version of the site which is then presented to the client. In major projects, this version of the site is also presented to a selected group for beta testing. We always aim to test the site within its main target group, in order to create the best possible experience for these users.
Do you have any advice to give designers and developers on a successful working relationship?
Have a keen ear to each others opinions. A great design solution can sometimes come from the ‘developing side’ and vice versa.
Have a keen ear to each others opinions. A great design solution can sometimes come from the ‘developing side’ and vice versa. Apart from that, as obvious as it may seem, respect each others differences and don’t forget that working together should not only result in great work, it should also be fun. As our job can get very stressful at times, it is important to keep the work environment open and relaxed when possible, which often, in turn, results in better work.
Easily overlooked in the first few years of running your own business; investing in your own well being, by going on inspirational trips and keeping the office well groomed, might be just as important as having the latest software.
Which web-based project have you been proud of most? Can you tell us more about the process behind the design and production of it?
The web based project that we are currently most fond of is the website we designed and developed for Göteborgstryckeriet.
Göteborgstryckeriet (GBGT) is one of Sweden’s leading print houses. With four divisions, each with their own specialty, they can handle every type of job ranging from the most technically advanced to the most extensive. Founded in 1918 by the present CEO’s grandfather, GBGT have since long established themselves as the printer of choice for both designers and Marketing Executives.
After having undergone a recent rebranding, led by Happy F&B, GBGT approached us to rethink and redesign their website. Early on, we identified some key needs and features that we, being buyers of their services ourselves, thought would make the site not only a reference hub, but a good starting point when planning a print project. For that reason, we decided to build the site around an inspiration gallery, containing a vast selection of reference projects. This was to become the natural focal point of the site and the feature that would attract the most visitors.
By categorizing projects both by type (e.g. book), printing technique/s (e.g. embossing) and paper type (e.g. uncoated) we allow visitors to sort projects according to interest.
Perhaps a designer wants to see what silver foil on coated and uncoated paper looks like before making a final decision on which one to go for? The Inspiration Gallery will then serve as an aid in helping the designer making a well informed decision.
The second part of the project was art directing and photographing all the projects that were to be featured in the gallery. Wanting to release the site with a solid number of posts, we gathered quite a few pieces of printed matter from the GBGT archive (32 projects resulting in a total of 145 images) that we shot together with photographer Cora Hillebrand. Mixing overview images with close-ups and detail shots we displayed both the objects in full and specific printing techniques.
Designing the Inspiration Gallery proved to be quite a challenge. With a large amount of images, there was a need to keep each post in the overview section rather small. At the same time, as many images highlight a certain printing technique, there was a need for an option of easily switching to large scale images. This was solved by designing three different gallery layouts.
The Thumbnail Overview allows the visitor to get a quick overview of the projects. The Gallery View is more of a classic blog layout with larger images and additional information. The next step, the Fullscreen View, maximizes the images on the screen while still offering an easy way of navigating, either through using the arrow keys or the mouse. By hovering the left and right edges of the screen, a part of the previous or next image slides into view. The multiple layouts also ensure that the website is visually attractive and function well across all devices and platforms.
Switching between the different gallery views is seamless. By clicking a thumbnail, the thumbnails of that specific post grows to gallery size and clicking an image again leads to the fullscreen view. The same seamlessness is utilized throughout the site for a smooth browsing experience. Many sections of the site can be collapsed in order to swiftly reach content further down. In many sections, additional content appear automatically when a user interacts with an element. For instance, a full thumbnail overview (containing every image in that project) appear when the visitor hover a thumbnail on the main page and images of staff members appear when the visitor hover their names in the contact section.
What resources do you look to for inspiration and learning: Andreas for design and art direction, Carl-Johan for development and technical knowledge?
Andreas: I read a lot of books, both fiction and design literature. Unfortunately, there is a lack of good books and magazines focusing solely on web design. Apart from that, inspiration can come from anywhere. Street signage on a trip to Borneo, vintage modern furniture or the crackle and pop of a long searched for record in a dusty basement in Brixton.
Carl-Johan: Being part of the first native internet generation, my inspiration mostly comes from either what I see online and, of course, what I don’t see. It is very inspirational to be part of a community with so many talented and creative people and in a field changing as much as web development, I’m constantly learning new things. As much as I like to read a well written book or article on web development, it is online where I find my main sources for learning.
You are lucky to both incredible art direction and development talent within your company: would you ever consider producing personal projects, apps, or publication for your own pleasure?
We often discuss personal projects and ideas we have for applications, retail and so on, but seldom find the time to realize them. We find it very hard to turn down interesting client work and we, like many other designers, suffer from needing a brief and a deadline to get things done. By investing a lot of ourselves in the projects we take on we are able to produce work that is both beneficial for the client as well as creatively rewarding for us as a studio. Therefore, to us, every project is personal.