Design for a Champion

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Karsten Blauert spotted Mette while she was still building her reputation at Cafe Glyptoteket in Copenhagen’s winter garden. Little did I know, that I was going to be involved in a cookbook that would flip things on the Danish dessert scene. Far less so, that I would be on a constant feed of giggles and delicacies for the next 3 months.

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But that was not it. It was her personality. No photo shoot without cramps of laughter and red ears from the constant flow of tease from this remarkable connoisseur and European patisserie Champion. Even Mr. Blauert left crimson-cheeked every time. For the first book, we hired food photography master, Columbus Leth.

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Remarkably, Mette returned to me 6 years later. I had been off the radar during my time in Tokyo. Now I was in Switzerland, breathing a bit. Still. She wanted me on board for her next book, despite sensible recommendations from editor Ulla Mervild. I was with Ulla. “Mette, I’m in the Alps, studying art theory, and … ” She responded: “I understand, if you don’t have time. But I want you on board. No discussion“.

I found time. It was a ride. The editor did a splendid job, despite my whereabouts. Highly acclaimed food photographer Lars Ranek did his magic.

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Logo, window-display and other elements soon followed.

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Blomsterberg facade

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Major Player

Only 3 months after starting my own Studio in 1998, I was broke. My charming but krone-munching Alfa Bertone was undermining my oatmeal budget. Then, a former colleague from Euroman walked in the door: “P.O.! You’re going to design books now!”

Books? Why not? Perhaps books could be the next big thing after magazines? Sure enough. The first attempt turned into a breaking bestseller. 50.000 copies in one month is considerate for a non-fiction book in Denmark.

It also turned into a contract-nightmare, that luckily was saved by decent paperwork. But that don’t exactly establishes a long-lasting client relationship, does it? Well, this one did. Not only was I on board for redesigning all book lines for Business Publisher Børsens for lag, I was also called in, when CEO Karsten Blauert was called to Major Publisher Politikens Forlag, where I redesigned (almost) all book lines, produced more than 400 covers and some perk-friendly cookbooks. And then, this little “P” that is to be found on the spine of at least one book in any household in Denmark.

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“Per-Ole was able to set a new graphic standard, which is still outstanding”. Karsten Blauert, CEO JP/Politiken Publishers Ltd.

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Libris Media

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Just as I was considering a return to Copenhagen, publisher Jesper Bove-Nielsen approached me with an opportunity to rebrand his newly acquired Libris Forlag – from within. Gradually shaping the look and design of books and instruction manuals while getting to know the brand from the core.

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Jesper asked me: “Remember that Pet Shop Boys album with the colors on it? … That’s the kind of simplicity I want”. Soon the bold, colorful Libris Stripes were born. Following came a brand manual incorporating logo, visuals, typeface families  and holistic composition standards ready for a design team to engage in.

Icon and logotype design:

“P.O. is a rare, old-scool/high-quality designer who understands that design and business results go hand in hand” Jesper Bove-Nielsen, CEO/Publisher, Libris Media

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Hope & Despair

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Challenge: Design a book cover for a book on life and spirituality.

Problems: Talk of the spiritual is unreal and often seems irrelevant. Including everything and ultimately meaning nothing, really.

Rephrase: Design a book cover that express present, real emptiness, yet hope. Use handwritten typography backdrop to express frustration below.

Destinée Media is an independent publisher based in Switzerland. The workers are affiliated with L’Abri fellowship, Huemoz. They have no budget, but they have something to say.