Imaginary Life
Print design for Diana Orving textile, Winter 2011

The Wow Factor in Visual Design

Sandu Publishing House have released a book that features our very own Johan Hjerpe, concept developer, art director and partner at Imaginary Life. In parallel with commercial brand strategy and design work, Johan is highly active within the cultural field, driving projects as diverse as designing prints and textiles for fashion, set design, magazine art direction, graphic design and concept development for various art and fashion projects.
Entitled ‘Designers Universe – the Wow Factor’, the book is a fascinating, if not somewhat random collection of design that you will have seen in the latest blogs, crossing graphic design, illustration, fashion, set design and motion graphics. Described by Sandu as a book spotlighting “59 professional designers who shine within the field,” each designer, coming from different corners of the world, has a couple of spreads showcasing recent work with short Q&A’s on what makes them tick.

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Chinese Newspapers report on Swedish Design

The articles surrounding the Shenzhen Industrial Design Conference go something like this:
“Sweden: Design for Better Business
Sweden is the first country to become industrialized in Scandinavia and also the earliest country to develop the industrial design movement. IKEA and VOLVO have been icons in people’s minds, standing for Swedish design.
The Swedish designers coming this time are well prepared, not only for the signing ceremony, but also for holding presentations sharing their experience in furniture design, interior design, industry design and other types of design.”

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Co-creative gold and the Power of X

We are working on a total integration process that we call the Power of X with our friends at Boy’s Don’t Cry. On the highest level, its a cross-disciplinary approach that everyone talks about, but its also a fractal model that can be easily understood and used for every meeting to extract the specialized knowledge and needs of each attendee user, that is fast to facilitate and synthesize into the overall process. It’s about asking the right questions at the right time, and reinterpreting those questions as the project becomes more informed with time. We have started to use this process on ourselves, together with our network partners such as Storylab, and are developing it even further into a user manual.

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Why imagine Internet?

Imaginary Life is a network reaching deep into the future of Internet and mobile technology. We create PR driving concepts and mutually beneficial partnership models and platforms that explore new and more sustainable ways of doing business.

Forget websites, browsers, files and computers, the life enhancing Internet is everywhere. It’s hard to listen what the technology can do though if one does not know what technology is capable of. Imaginary Life has developed a proprietary process that engages the most innovative new world techies and specialists right at the start of concept development. Our creative ideas are informed and relevant to our clients business and their end users’ needs.

We work with all types of clients, and prefer not to call ourselves a “branding” agency. As a network, all our partners share the same vision: technology, and brands, are tools for people, not vice versa, and most marketing communications is nothing more than a time-bandit: It steals our time and so it had better create some genuine value.

What most agencies miss is the understanding how technology can evolve the business strategy, product development and communications forward into the 21st century, with a new and refreshed focus on development. For us, it is exactly that process of consolidation that is ”integration” – and not pushing out the same ad message into different ”info-taining” media.

We are proud to tailor-make our work to suit every project we take on, and have an extensive international network of partners to do so. What we can do for or with you depends very much on the scope of your needs and ambitions- there is no one solution fits all. What we always do is apply human and technological intelligence creatively when and where it matters to offer the most cost efficient collaborative model possible.

If you have read this far, we owe you a lunch. Drop us a line on:

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Imagining the future

“The image, the imagined, the imaginary – these are all terms that direct us to something critical and new in global cultural processes: the imagination as a social practice. The imagination is now central to all forms of agency, is itself a social fact, and is the key component of the new global order”

Arjun Appadurai, 2008. Social-cultural anthropologist focusing on modernity and globalization.

Imaginary Life was named after a neon hypermarket in Osaka, Japan, “Better Life” circa 1988. It began its life as a collaborative platform crossing the cultural fields of art, design, film, music, theatre and beyond. Today, we are an international network of professionals with headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden. All our members share the right balance of experience, curiosity and conviction to change the world for the better. For us, it is an exciting time to be alive – the power to implement change is here.

Imaginary Life is a company’s strategic creative spider in the web. Over years of working with all aspects of brand development, with clients such as Electrolux, Iittala, Nokia, Sweden as a Nation Brand, Preem, and Yale, we have evolved a tried and tested fast-track method for innovation. We apply consumer insights, risk management and creative strategy to prototype integrated future scenarios.

With a holistic view of individual and societal development, we work closely with client partners who have equally high ambitions to evolve sustainable and meaningful business opportunities.

radioshenyen November 2009 Spain/France.

“When I come to lie in your arms, you sometimes ask me in which historical moment do I wish to exist. And I will say Paris, the week Colette died… Paris, August 3rd, 1954. In a few days, at her state funeral, a thousand lilies will be placed by her grave, and I want to be there, walking that avenue of wet lime trees until I stand beneath the second-floor apartment that belonged to her in the Palais Royal. The history of people like her fills my heart. She was a writer who remarked that her only virtue was self-doubt. (A day or two before she died, they say Colette was visited by Jean Genet, who stole nothing. Ah, the grace of the great thief…)
‘We have art,’ Nietzche said, ‘so that we shall not be destroyed by the truth.’ The raw truth of an incident never ends, and the story of Coop and the terrain of my sister’s life are endless to me. They are the sudden possibility every time I pick up the telephone when it rings some late hour after midnight, and I wait for his voice, or the deep breath before Claire will announce herself.
For I have taken myself away from who I was with them, and what I used to be. When my name was Anna.”
– Michael Ondaatje, ‘Divisadero’

Barcelona, twilight. After five weeks in a monastery its time to… well, its time.

I’m standing at the crossroads waiting for the lights to change, and enjoying them not changing, enjoying the cars and the people’s faces waiting on the other side, the light around everything. Edging off the pavement like everyone else, anticipating the break that never comes, knowing it will. And then an old guy appears a few metres to my left, shuffling out from between two parked cars. He begins walking along in the road itself, and then collapses. I dash over and start shepherding cars around him and some locals gather round and try talking with him. Someone calls an ambulance that takes about five minutes to arrive. It looks like a stroke, but maybe its alcohol someone else says. They carry him back between the parked cars out of the way of the traffic. A lady appears – maybe from one of the nearby shops – offering a duvet still in its plastic bag. I remember her standing there, like a shy animal on the edge of a forest, holding her offering (which the men reject, but not unkindly), and I’m thinking its only in fairy tales that animals carry gifts. Is this a fairy tale? It’s a fairy tale if you realise it in time. In time. I remember, too, holding the man’s walking stick and watch (which came off his wrist during the fall) and its only as I write this, back in the monastery in France a few days later, I realise that for the second time in a few years someone has entered my life unexpectedly, dramatically, and presented me with symbols of space and time.

Sometimes people in the monastery dismiss city life as a meaningless distraction. They say its just a machine for creating consumers. But I’m not convinced. Cities generate much more than consumerism: they create patterns of beauty and complexity. On the escalator in the metro, among the usual posters there is one asking me “will they still exist, these escalators, in 150 years?” I’m on my way to be haunted by a homeless Mongolian woman staring up from out of the darkness of a manhole. An upside-down Korean helicopter follows me around the city. There are shops – Paramita, Tezeniy, Number – whose names slow down and pacify language itself. In the hands of beggars I notice their archetypal polystyrene cups and am reminded of Heidegger and Japanese tea ceremony and the unknown architect who brought these three things together in a half-read, untraceable essay of long ago. As I walk along a lane quietly singing – or being sung to, I’m not sure which anymore – I see a man in a side alley arrive at the corner and stop, turn towards the wall, lean forward slightly and gently blow on the stones, and I do not stop to conceptualise or interpret, I do not stop singing. A little bookshop has precisely fifteen English language books on a cramped shelf, but one of them is Michael Ondaatje’s latest, which I take away with me. I dont feel ‘manipulated into consuming’, I feel blessed, wrapped in the frayed edges of a thousand patterns and things which are less than patterns.

Now I’m back in the monastery, where I will stay until December. The tickertape sweetness of Ondaatje mixing with the more austere beauties of my Buddhist studies: “… he had no idea whether he would ever be able to return to the corralling work that art was, to have whatever he needed to make even a simple song. Dissolving into darkness was enough, for now. Or playing from memory an old song by a – “; “… but he had come to love the playing of music with no-one there. Could you waste your life on a gift? If you did not use your gift, was it a betrayal?”

I will miss Barcelona. But yesterday Artforum arrived, in whose pages even the advertisements are like cities: beautiful, complex, almost nothing, like beggars, philosophers and ad hoc tea ceremonies.

till next time,


Design for life

Many thanks to Designboost 2009


“It is hard to listen what the technology can do if one does not know what the technology is capable of. We should not segregate geeks from creatives. We need to percolate the programmers, information architects, interactive designers and UI designers together with the graphic designers, art directors and copywriters, from product design across all aspect of ‘communications.’ Technology, design, and brands, are tools for people, not vice versa. Most of today’s marketing communications is nothing more than a time-bandit; It steals our time, so we had better make it give us some genuine value in return.”
Jari Ullakko, Creative director.

“Design for life is evolving to be genuinely sustainable design with the total life cycle in mind. Overall accountability will soon be a necessity, and companies will no longer win sustainability awards for white paper CSR preparedness. In this way, there is a desperate need for cross disciplinary sustainable thinking to be accessible and applicable through a clearly defined set of process tools, right from the early stages of product development, through to smart customer and vendor loyalty strategies.”
Uffe Ljungberg, Risk analyst and Quality control.

“Design for life? It is a friend who accompanies you everyday, that might be able to help you, comfort you, and let you be who you are. Design for life is the design of the connections and interactions between people, and between people, places and things, that creates a positive feeling every time you meet it. Quite simply, design for life simplifies or improves, humanizes and personalizes the experience of everyday life. It is the ultimate expression of humanity.”
Catja Löfgren, Creative strategy and Insights.

Sign for the infamous bar on Erstagatan, Stockholm.

“Life is an unrepeatable disappearing thing, and design needs to enter the same space. Newness should not be defined in terms of novelty or market niche but in terms of the drama of this disappearance and unrepeatability, colour-coded with compassion and naturalness. I am a Buddhist monk flipping rhythmically between the forest and the cosmopolis. I am designing all the time.”
Tenzin Shenyen, Writer and Monk.


“Don’t worry about destinations, practice arriving well. /Both the express train and local train arrive on time. /Carry a drop of water to the ocean; wash it clean. / A pattern of drops on my son’s back where he can’t reach. / Nothing exists, and everything proves it. / Freedom is the ability to do anything, not merely what I want. / Pluck a petal and leave the flower whole. / Open hands: giving/receiving. / We can wake the miracle that sleeps within each moment. / There is a sort of kindness that needs me to not do much. / Design for Life = doing enough.”
Jerry Gordon, Teacher and Improviser.

“I don’t want to live in a Wall-e world. I want to say to all the CEOs of all the companies that you must put the earth first and not just your wallet.”
Alexander Ljungberg-Perme, Student. Age 12.

Designboost entrance 2009, Malmö

“Today, everyone expects design to be good. And so design must develop to be more and more about layers of experience, than just the aesthetic result of an isolated object. Increasingly we see that the advertising budget is being spent on designing enabling tools and overlapping interfaces on and offline. Brands will focus on value adding services – and we will see more ideas like ‘Nike+’, where you choose to use a brand long term because of the intelligence it adds to your life, human and technological. We will see more sincerity and transparency because there is no other way.”
Anders Davén, Digital concept architect.

“Imagine that designers, together with their clients and other partners, manage to create truly beneficial products and services that are seamlessly intrinsic to our lives. Then imagine our society having to rely only on branded services to deliver basic healthcare and infrastructure, but with a disclaimer: break the ‘terms and conditions’ and you are out. Responsibility, integrity and genuine value beyond CSR messaging is a discussion taking place in the digital realm right now. Corporate social integration will extend to all areas of life at the pace we extend the term design and what it should provide. My logic: The better you deliver – the greater the responsibility. What are we doing when create ’excellence’? What are we really achieving when we enter the political space of social responsibility?”
Johan Hjerpe, Concept director.

“I believe that design shapes our collective memories, it speaks about who we are as a community, what we value in our everyday experiences and our dreams. I don’t believe in exclusivity in design, nor fashion. I believe in emotional design. We create reality for ourselves, every minute, every day. And it is our duty as designers, artists, and workers of all kinds to make this world an inspiring environment that encourages life itself to thrive.”
Pavel Fiorentino, Photographer and Journalist.

“Design For Life is ‘The Anatomy of IS.’ It is an existential template that develops and guides our everyday work helping us to interpret what is happening around us. Designing life is an act in the present. The future is a cacophony of could, should, would, will, won’t, might and on and on. Design for Life is doing what you can within the present moment that you inhabit.”
Michael J. Salovaara, Teacher and Poet.


“Last time I stayed in a hotel and I turned the shower on, somebody had pointed the shower head towards the wall ensuring I didn’t get a cold morning shock in a new place. 
A nice but well thought out gesture. In a similar way Design for Life is about putting the user needs at the forefront of the creative process to integrate possible future living in the design concept. Some would rightly argue that has always been the design mantra, but increasingly, there is a playful element to the concept reaching beyond functionality and aesthetics, because Design for Life is conceived from and for people.”
Jonas Andersen, Trends analyst.


“Design for Life is a paradigm shift that has already happened. We are living in critical and exciting times where we have the possibility to shape more meaningful collaborative platforms that will focus on realizing visions rather than just launching isolated products and fragmented messages. These will be provided by the sources we trust and choose – the people in our lives who we interact with on a daily level.”
Tanya Kim Grassley, Strategist.