Clara von Zweigbergk talks us through her art direction for Danish brand Hay

24 April 2017

Swedish graphic designer and art director Clara von Zweigbergk has an elegant creative approach to art direction. Each of her works, whether it be graphic design or sets, is clean and contemporary using simplicity to let the product at hand shine. Clara’s work you may recognise from campaigns of the Danish label Hay, which balances functional and alluring design in it’s home and work products.


Clara von Zweigbergk: Hay


Clara von Zweigbergk: Hay


Clara von Zweigbergk: Hay


Clara von Zweigbergk: Hay


Clara von Zweigbergk: Hay

What was your introduction to art direction?

I was interested in typography (and calligraphy) already as a teenager and somehow figured I should work at an advertising agency. I looked up the ad agency section in the phone book and randomly called one named Intellecta, not knowing anything about them or the industry. With only some not very good drawings to show, they nicely enough hired me as an assistant to several talented art directors. After a fun and educative year I started graphic design (and more) studies at Beckmans School of Design. 

How did you start working with Hay? 

Mette Hay called and asked if I would like to do the next Hay catalog, graphic design as well as photo art direction. Shane Schneck, who was already working with Hay then, and I did the photo art direction and set designs together.

With a totally open brief we started out building small scale sets and rooms in paper, creating a module system of walls and dividers in various colours and materials, easy to move around in order to improvise on the shoot. We asked Rasmus Norlander to do the photos, and together with him and of course the great HAY team, we have now been doing these big shoots for almost seven years, the last one with Osma Harvilahti. 

Hay has shown a lot of trust in our ideas, and apart from what we built and ordered for the sets in forehand, our work is based on improvisation on location. The photo art direction we did I would say was quite unique at the time we started it. Now it has been copied quite a lot, so for each new shoot we have had to renew the concept a bit faster than planned. Art direction requires that you always stay two steps ahead, and with images spreading digitally the pace is faster than ever.

From this first catalog I came to overlook the whole graphic identity, including shop and exhibition graphics, packaging, stationery and most recently a new website. The ambition is to always keep evolving within a visual universe that is unique to Hay. The briefs are always very open and I feel there is a lot of mutual trust.

What is your process when creating commercial work?

Branding, as I see it, is about communicating what the company wants to be, to the people it would like to reach, and creating visual language that is unique to the company. To work with Hay has for me been easy in the aspect that we share a lot of ideas and I am also someone likely to buy their products.

As for doing commercial products, I have less of an idea. I do what I like, and what I think fits with the company. Some products become more commercially successful than others. It does not necessarily correspond with the quality of the work, which is subjective of course.

For the process I tend to work things through until I am happy with it before asking opinions, but there is usually lots of options, and at a certain stage I find it very helpful to get input from others. Just not too early in the process, then I get confused.

What would you to work on next?

I aim to continue working like I am now, which is moving between graphic design, art direction and product design, in new constellations and with clients from around the world. There are many possibilities… I would love to continue doing work like a recent collaboration I did with Nike. The Nike team and Marco Velardi invited Shane and me, along with eight other designers, to interpreted the ethos of natural motion. We ended up with seven active seating concepts that was presented at the Salone del Mobile last year.

It is very cool when large companies seek the creativity of independent designers to engage in dialog that is outside of their own sphere. Lots of new ideas happen in such a meeting. I would like to do more products for sure, I find it exciting to get in to things I have not done before, and each product certainly comes with a whole new set of questions to solve. 

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About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.

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