Five Wonderful & Simple Ideas from Olle Eksell

A designer and illustrator from Sweden (1918-2007)

Olle Eksell Birds illustration
Olle Eksell Birds illustration
Olle Eksell Birds illustration

Olle was a designer and illustrator but he could not draw people very well,
he struggled to make them life like.

It was not until he was in his late forties that he started drawing birds and found his own drawing style.
The funny thing is that his birds have distinct human qualities to them.

Drawing challenge: Draw your black and white bird with personality and send it to and it will be featured on this page

Olle Eksell Birds illustration
Olle Eksell Birds illustration
Olle Eksell Birds illustration

In 1957, when Olle was 39, he was asked to redesign packaging for a chocolate manufacturer called Mazetti. 


Not only did he design the package but he also thought about the product and changed the shape of the products in the packaging.


It was a great succes.
Some people liked it so much they hung it on their wall.

Idea: Take one of your favorite food products and try to rethink the design, inside and out. If you like what you came up with, send it to the brand – who knows, it might inspire them :)

Olle Eksell package design chocolate manufactured Mazetti
Olle Eksell Stockholm postcards
Olle Eksell Stockholm postcards
Olle Eksell Stockholm postcards

When he was 21 years old he drew sights of Stockholm for postcards to make a bit of money. He presented them to publishers but no one wanted them. it wasn’t until he was in his eighties that they were published.

Idea: Draw the sights of your town, it might not be appreciated right away, but it will one day :)

Words from Olle on Designing Products:

“Solid, sustainable things are all well and good, but beauty is a quality that shouldn’t be forgotten.

The manufacturers focus solely on a product’s function and price, the result: a solid, sustainable, mediocre product range. It would be better instead to lead industry towards high-quality productions that makes the products more desirable and competitive, with lower prices as a result. Production based on knowledgeable design with spirit and imagination. For this kind of production to be possible, a designer has to have ultimate control over the design issues. That goes without saying.

But fancy that, today all artistic work has to be approved by accountants and marketing people, and often by the sales departments, which is about as ridiculous as letting artists decide on markets and economics.”

in his book Design=Ekonomi (1999, p.134) 
Olle Eksell skating-rink Bring Winter Joy to Kungsträdgården

Olle sent a design for a skating-rink to a newspaper with the title: “Bring Winter Joy to Kungsträdgården”. It was well received and three years later it became reality and is still a part of Stockholm.

Lesson: Don’t hold your ideas back. Share them with the world. Who knows what might happen?

Birds with a personality from our readers:

From Elja

Olle Eksell portrait design=ekonomi
Olle Eksell portrait

Olle was a Swedish designer

He was born in 1918 and died in 2007. 
For more info about his work and life visit this website where you can also find videos of his wife telling stories about his work and life. 

Source used: 
Book: Olle Eksell – Of Course! written by David Castenfors


Olle Eksell portrait drawing

Drawing of Olle by Merith