Name: Ilana Curtis
Home University: University of Pittsburgh
DIS Copenhagen Summer Session 4 Course: Graphic Design Foundations Studio and Visual Journal
Ikea? Volvo? Spotify? Swedish Fish? Though it is the most populated city in Scandinavia, these were the first words that popped into my head at the mention of Stockholm. However, after spending 72 hours there for part of my Graphic Design Week-Long Study Tour, those words are most definitely not the only things worth mentioning about the Scandinavian capital. From metro stops-turned-art exhibits to events all over the city, day and night, Stockholm is a metropolis meant for the urban hipster and family alike. It’s also worth mentioning that the city sprawls across 14 islands, making for a scenic commute, and another cultural quirk that this city has to offer.
With little confidence in my packing abilities, I naturally left packing my bag to the last minute, choosing to bring clothes for both hot days and cool evenings. The last item in my bag: sunglasses. North of Copenhagen, the sun doesn’t set until near midnight in the summer months! Other must haves included:
- Sketchbook with all materials necessary for visual journaling galore! (i.e. scissors, glue stick, washi tape, markers)
- DIS Graphic Design study tour booklet (I’d be lost without it)
- SPF (note above: midnight sunset)
- Wallpaper City Guide: Stockholm
- iPhone charger and converter (luckily, the outlets are the same in Denmark and Sweden)
- Sneakers for constant walking and hilly streets
- Rain jacket for unpredictable skies
You make a good first impression, Stockholm, and sure know how to keep a girl on her feet. Literally. I did not realize how flat Copenhagen was until walking through Stockholm. With a few blisters to show, most of these three days were spent on foot strolling the quiet pastel streets and roaming various museums, continuously impressed with the variety of artwork on display across the city. One thing I noticed about the city (well, more of a second impression once I looked past the beautiful streets) is that the evenings are quiet and stores close early. Stockholm is a relaxed urban retreat, filled with diverse city dwellers, but a calm tone overtook the streets as day became night. Maybe it’s because we were in the city around Midsummer’s Eve – when almost all Stockholmers take off to the Swedish countryside to celebrate the longest day of the year.
DIS had this trip planned down to the minute. Our tour book said we’d arrive via regional train at 13:39, and we arrived not a minute later. Incredible. The three days were a good mix between museums, neighborhood exploring, group meals, and graphic design office visits. As an architecture student at my home university, I knew little about the graphic design industry, so these office visits we’re useful in helping me gain a better understanding of the industry. The branding and design firm Snask Studio stood out for their distinct approach, incredible work, and trendy vibes. It was without a doubt the favorite of the whole class too.
Other standouts on the itinerary included the Moderna Museet, sketchbook review in SoFo, and dinner at Herman’s Vegetarian Restaurant and Garden Cafe. The Moderna Museet and Architecture Design Center (all one complex) is probably one of the best museums I’ve been to. Nestled away from the city center in between small rolling hills and the Baltic Sea, this museum really has it all. They house a beautiful collection of modern and contemporary art as well as visiting exhibitions. The work of Yayoi Kusama, queen of all things installation and interactive arts, is the main exhibition on view until September. There’s also a delicious garden café to top off a whole day’s worth of art.
As art and design students, our visual journals are a huge part of our learning experience. Every chance I got I made a quick sketch, jotted down a few notes, or taped a picture (or 10…) into my
sketchbook. As a group we actually made quite a scene everywhere we sat down, covering tables in museum program clippings, markers, pencils, notebooks, scissors, glue sticks, etc. At first daunted by the thought of constant visual-journaling, I learned how to quickly and successfully sort my ideas into words and sketches and now have a great souvenir from my trip.
The last standout moment on the itinerary was dinner at Herman’s: delicious, hearty, and seconds-or-thirds-worthy vegetarian fare. The best meal I have ever had, no question. P.S.: it’s buffet style.
These 72 hours in Stockholm were a whirlwind of academics and explorations, and my mind is still processing the trip. The delicious food, distinct vernacular architecture of the city, and access to countless museums make the city worth another visit for me, and for you, possibly a semester abroad!
Fika – “to have coffee/coffee break”. The Swedish version of a coffee break is a ritual afternoon pause to enjoy coffee and a pastry (traditionally cinnamon rolls) with colleagues, friends, or family. Yum!