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Villa Terminus book, Henrik Nygren Design
11th May 2017

Functional Design: Q&A with Henrik Nygren

Pleasingly tactile and understatedly chic, Villa Terminus is the first in a series of five silkscreen-printed books celebrating the craft and care behind De Bergenske’s contemporary Norwegian aesthetic. The slim hardbacks echo the hotel group’s light-hearted sense of personality – a gentle quip here, a loose sketch there – alongside a more considered study of the transformative powers of architecture and design.

Swedish creative director Henrik Nygren has made a name for himself since the 1990s with his straight-forward approach to book design and identity creation. Much like his studio – a monochrome space stacked with reference volumes and practical storage – his creative process is as much about function as form. We caught up with him to discuss inspiration, collaboration and Bergen’s captivating quality.

What did you set out to achieve with the identity for the De Bergenske hotels?
Our goal has always been to position these design hotels as a family of five truly unique stays in Bergen. Each will have its own individual identity, based on its distinctive qualities, but with a few elements that tie them all together.

Where did you look for design inspiration?
The right answers are quite often very simple and right in front of you. I try to keep my eyes open and to listen carefully to the people we work for and collaborate with. I believe that is where I’ll find the most relevant inspiration for strong and long-lasting design solutions. 
The pleasingly tactile front cover, Henrik Nygren Design
What was the idea behind the books? What did you want them to do?
This series of books is an important tool when it comes to telling the story behind these five boutique hotels and Bergen’s rich history and architecture. Zetteler will send out each new book to a carefully selected roster of partners, press and influencers. The books, written by Max Fraser and Lars Forsberg and photographed by Åke E:son Lindman, will also be sold at the hotels and, of course, be used by De Bergenske for marketing campaigns.

What were the various stages in the design process?
We have been very fortunate to work closely with both Kjetil Smørås (De Bergenske’s general manager) as well as my friends at Claesson Koivisto Rune, the architecture firm commissioned to design all five hotels. During this process, we developed a new brand identity for De Bergenske and for each hotel, including logotypes, typography, name structures, signage systems, menus, staff uniforms, printed materials, stationery, books, etc. It’s interesting work: a hotel’s design has to function every minute, all year round, for a long time and on all levels, for both staff and guests. At the design stage, we’ve often asked ourselves ”Why?” or “Is this needed?” But most of all, “Can we make this better?” It’s all based on De Bergenske’s vision to make these one-off hotels stand out from the crowd.
Villa Terminus library, photography by Åke Eson Lindman
Do you have a favorite feature in the hotels?
Yes. Probably that each feels more like a home than anything else. 

Had you been to Bergen before taking on the project? What do you like about the city?
We’d collaborated with Canadian architect Todd Saunders (who has his office in Bergen) on a few different projects over the years so I’ve had the privilege of visiting the city during both winter and summer. Bergen is real in every way. Whether it’s the people, the food, the streets, the architecture, the fjord, the weather or the surrounding mountains – it feels so authentic and truly one-of-a-kind. 

Zander K, the second book in the series, will be published shortly. 

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