Meet Designer of the Week Jan Wennesland, a Norwegian designer whose side project Font Flame was featured in a 2015 edition of HOW’s Top Ten Websites for Designers. Wennesland specializes in digital, prefers Scandinavian simplicity in design work, and calls himself both a lover of side projects and a maker at heart.
Name: Jan Wennesland
Name of Studio: Folk
Location: Kristiansand, Norway
Design school attended: RMIT Univeristy, Melbourne
How would you describe your work?Conceptual and pragmatic. I love aesthetics, especially in combination with good ideas.
I do not have a set style, but I personally prefer Scandinavian simplicity. I do adapt though, and ultimately it comes down to communicating a message.
My main medium is mostly web these days. Although I have had my fair share of printed work in the past. I still occasionally do print, and there’s nothing like the smell of a freshly offset printed piece.
Where do you find inspiration?I look to art, architecture, movies, and nature. Whenever possible, I read books, listen to music, and try to experience new things.
I find inspiration by connecting thoughts. When that moment happens, a burst of inspiration hits me. That’s when I do my best work.
Who are some of your favorite designers or artists?One of my favorite designers is Stefan Sagmeister, who’s always been a huge inspiration. I love his take on recharging his human batteries; he has a very interesting approach. Another is Tobias Van Schneider, who’s a big advocate for side projects and does amazing work.
[Editor’s note: Are you, too, a fan of Van Schneider? Check him out in the issue of PRINT that takes a dive into the largest design capital of the world: New York City.]
Do you have a favorite among all the projects you’ve worked on?A favorite must be casestudy.club, which is a collection of inspiring case studies from awesome designers and makers. I really enjoy studying the work and process of others, so I find a lot of joy working on it.
I’m actually in the middle of a redesign, where I’m incorporating a few new features that users requested. Google Fonts, in collaboration with Colophon, just released a new font called Space Mono, which I’m also excited to incorporate.
Is there a project that stands out to you as having been the biggest challenge of your career so far?I would have to say fontflame.com, yet another side project. Learning to code my own ideas has been liberating, but at the same time it has been the biggest challenge by far.
It continues to be that, as I’m working on a completely new version for this as well. This time with a big emphasis on the experience and usability. Solving the problem with font pairing and discovery is a big challenge, but that’s something that motivates me to keep doing what I’m doing!
Font Flame logo
What do you hope to accomplish in the future?Find joy in what I do for a long, long time, to always stay hungry, and to learn new things. I hope that I will be able to inspire other people with what I make, and to inspire others to make.
What’s your best advice for designers today?Designers today have to adapt very quickly because there’s always something new. Keep pushing the boundaries and get a little uncomfortable sometimes—that’s how you will keep on improving.
I think Steve Jobs said it very well: “Stay hungry, stay foolish.”
Additional work by Wennesland:
HOW International Design Awards recognizes excellence on a global scale. No matter where in the world you reside, entries into HOW’s prestigious International Design Awards are judged by project type rather than industry or region. That means posters are up against posters, packaging against packaging, identity design against—you get the point. Enter by the August deadline.