Olle Eksell

Welcome to the official website of the legendary Swedish designer Olle Eksell (1918-2007)

From AL to LA

FROM ÅL TO LA. | Olle Eksell was born in 1918 in Kopparberg. Sweden. When Olle was 14 years old, he decided that he wanted to become an advertising illustrator. During WW II from 1930 to 1941, Olle studied illustration and graphic art in Stockholm where his main teacher was Professor Hugo Steiner-Prag. He later worked at the Ervaco advertising agency in Sweden and that is where he met his future wife and life companion, Ruthel Eksell. Ruthel, who worked as a fashion designer had come to Stockholm from Gothenburg for a quick visit and it was love at first sight. In 1946, the newly married couple sailed with the Drottningholm ship to USA to continue their studies at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. This was the year right after the war when the borders had newly opened up for travelling. After the isolation imposed by WW II, they were both keen to see the world.

PAUL RAND | In the US, Olle came in contact with contemporary designers among who were Paul Rand, Alvig Lustig, and Lester Bell. A close friendship developed between Paul Rand and Olle that lasted throughout their lives. They visited each other frequently and often discussed new ideas, innovations, and design processes.

ÖGON CACAO – 1956 | Olle Eksell was the creative designer ahead of his time. This could be seen in the famous eyes of cacao, which was part of Sweden’ s first design program that Olle designed for Mazetti. The Eksell couple lived in their apartment in Gärdet, Stockholm for more than 40 years. It was here, in a five square meter studio, that Olle created and designed Sweden’s well-known programs for Mazetti and Nessim. While working, Olle would think things out in every detail, having the ideas clear in his mind, before he put the designs down on paper. He always maintained a focused attitude, even while dressed casually in pajama bottoms and a t-shirt.

DESIGN = ECONOMY | Besides being an excellent designer and writer, Olle Eksell was a great visionary. This can be seen in his book Design = Ekonomi (1964) where he in a clear and elegant discussion brought forth the important relationship between design and economy. ¨Good design is not just aesthetic – it is also good economy. Good design is not just cool – it is bloody serious!

HONORS PROFESSOR. | Olle Eksell participated in international exhibitions such as at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Louvre in Paris, and the Biennale in Venice. He was a member of the world jury of typography – the International Center for Graphic Arts in New York. In Sweden, Olle was nominated to the advertising world’s Platinum Academy in 1985. In 2001, the Swedish Government bestowed Olle with the title of Honorary Professor for his significant contribution to the field of design.

CLOSED EYES | Olle Eksell’s career has not yet been parallelled in Swedish advertising history. His illustrations range between the crazy, the fanatasy filled, and abstract geometry. Olle was the creator/designer who loved his work and who never stopped creating. He continuted to work until his death in 2007.

Eyes

Timeline

1918

Carl Olov (Olle) Lennart was born March 22, 1918 in Ål, Kopparberg Community, Sweden.

1939-41

EDUCATION: The School of Book and Advertising Art. Illustration and graphic art under the direction of Professor Hugo Steiner-Prag in Stockholm.

1941-45

EMPLOYED: Ervaco Advertising Agency

1946

MARRIAGE: Ruthel Günzberger and Olle Eksell on the 4th of July.

1946-47

EDUCATION: The Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles

1947-2007

FREELANCE: Olle Eksell AB

1947-1970

BOOK COVERS: Hundreds of book covers for Bonniers, Wahlström & Widstrand, Nordstedts, and Kooperativa Forbundet amongst others.

1947

EXHIBITION: Arranged Sweden’s first graphic design exhibition at the National Museum in Stockholm with Lester Beall, Will Burtin, Edward McKnight Kauffer, Gyorgy Kepes, Alvin Lustig, Paul Rand, Herbert Matter and Ladislav Sutner.

1952

AGI: Inducted as a member in the Alliance Graphic International.

1952-1970

ARTICLES: Design writer for Aftonbladet. The first headline he wrote was “Juice and posters”. The last was “Everything goes to hell”

1953

WINE LABEL: Madeira: port wine, dessert wine.

1954

EXHIBITION: Signed textiles together with Alvar Aalto, The Svedberg, Olle Baerling, Karl Axel Persson. Olle Bonnier, Viola Gråsten, Stig Lindberg, Sven Markelius, Andres Beckman, Strid Sampe, Stellan Mörner.

1956-1958

GRAPHIC PROFILE: Mazetti – Sweden’s first modern design program.

1958

GRAPHIC PROFILE: Melka

1959

EXHIBITION: As the only Scandinavian representative in the Museum of Modern Arts packaging exhibition, New York.

1960

EXHIBITION: One of the 5 international leading designers (Yusaku Kamekura – Japan, Saul Bass – USA, Fritz Bühler – Switzerland, Albe Steiner – Italy and Willy de Majo – England) who took part in the Packing Perspective, London

1963

EXHIBITION: Packaging design at the Hall of Art, Lund, Sweden.

BOOK: Design = Economy

JURY MEMBER: Typo Mundis in Canada.

1964

BOOK: Corporate Design Programs.

GRAPHICS: Astrid Lindgren’s film Tjorven, Båtsman och Moses.

1966

DISTINCTION: Silver medal in Leipzig for book art, Design = Economy.

HONORARY MEMBER: Society of Graphic Designers of Canada

1972

GRAPHIC PROFILE: Handelsbanken

1975

JURY MEMBER: Ecole Superieure D’Arts Graphiques (ESAG).

DISTINCTION: Silver medal in Israel for book art, Happy Art

1976

JURY MEMBER: Ecole Superieure D’Arts Graphiques (ESAG).

1980

GRAPHIC PROFILE: Advokatsamfundet (The Swedish Bar Association).

1985

DISTINCTION: Platinaägg ( Platinum Academy of advertising)

1986

BOARD MEMBER: The Museum of Modern Art, Stockholm

1988

GRAPHIC PROFILE: The Museum of Modern Art, Stockholm

1990

BOARD MEMBER: Platina Akademin

1991

GUEST PROFESSOR: Konstfack, (University College of Arts, Crafts and Design) Stockholm

1993

DISTINCTION: Chosen from amongst 100 of the best graphic designers according to the Japanese Magazine IDEA

1999

BOOK: XL – four books in a box. Design = Ekonomi, Typiska arbeten, Formulerat, Mina ögonblick

2000

DISTINCTION: Invited as keynote speaker at AIG’s meeting in Mexico.

Exhibition: Lifespan exhibitions in Malmö and Stockholm

2001

DISTINCTION: Bestowed the title of Honorary Professor by the Swedish Government

2006

BOOK: Olle Eksell – Swedish Graphic Designer is published in Japan.

2007

… and then… his eyes no longer wanted to stay open … passed away on April 11, at 3 pm in the afternoon.

Videos Images MEDIA & PRESS

Videos with Ruthel Eksell

Recorded at the Eksell apartment in Stockholm. Ruthel Eksell tell us about her and Olle’s exciting life.

Images and information

For more information and high res pictures please email: info@olleeksell.se