Growing up on the outskirts of Stockholm, Lina Forsgren knew that she wanted to join the creative world, but she wasn’t sure which path to take. “As a teenager, I switched between wanting to be an illustrator, a fashion designer, and a cinematographer,” she tells It’s Nice That, adding with a hint of jest: “I decided to study graphic design in upper secondary school after a friend introduced me to Photoshop.” After leaving school, Lina worked in advertising for a year before heading to design college where she started to develop her playful, socially-minded and cross-disciplinary practice.
Now, still living in her beloved home city, the graphic designer and art director spends her days freelancing while running an online network for female and non-binary creatives. In the evenings and on weekends, Lina can either be found restoring some obscure artefact she’s collected or perusing local flee-markets for their eclectic wares. “I just love old things and crafts!” she declares.
Lina’s latest work – an identity and catalogue for an exhibition titled Open Craft – Queer Materialism – seemingly combines all of her passions into one project. Located in a beautiful greenhouse setting, the exhibition presents the work of 30 artists experimenting with and subverting expectations surrounding their various crafts. As Lina explains: “The exhibition demonstrates a nomadic thinking about seemingly given agreements by showing crafts that move outside the norms, challenging conventions and opening up to new interpretive possibilities.”
When developing the design, Lina identified two core principals to guide her work: “I wanted it to breathe craft,” she muses, “and I wanted it to take inspiration from the special exhibition environment.” The custom typeface, which takes centre stage on the catalogue’s cover, embodies this vision perfectly. Hoping to portray both the hand-made nature of the objects on show and their leafy setting, Lina reflects on how she “wanted it to feel kind of handcrafted and organic – as if each letter were its own object or organism.” The typeface captures this beautifully; some characters remain close to their traditional typographic forms while others become more distorted, morphing into the objects, tools and flora at the heart of the exhibition.
Taking inspiration from patchwork crafts, Lina’s letters are composed to feel as though they’ve “been sewn together at the edges.” It’s a motif that runs throughout the publication, with these interlocking pieces of mismatched fabric informing anything from illustrative marks to colour use. The way the body text playfully “flows in blocks” is perhaps the most noticeable manifestation of this smart and thoughtful decision which grounds the catalogue in the work it showcases. The noticeable tactility of the final product only extends this relationship to the work, for which Lina experimented with the physicality of various printing techniques to ensure the resulting artefact is just as “interesting to hold in your hand” as it is to look at.