Meet Swedish Top Designer – Hanna Werning

Happy new week to you, all! If you are even a little bit interested in Swedish design, then you need to say hi to Hanna Werning – one of Sweden’s absolute top graphic designers. Her patterns have been seen on everything from wall papers and china for leading International brands to fashion prints and graphic identity tools. She is famous for thinking ahead and for bringing meaningful design and some color (imagine that!) to Swedish design.


I had the opportunity to work with Hanna years ago, when she was still in design school in London. She helped me develop a corporate image package for the company I was running marketing for. I have worked with many designers in my days and I can honestly say that I have never worked with a designer where there were not a least a few revisions going back and forth before the final product. Whenever I got something from Hanna, I always took it right off the bat. There was never a need to change, edit or add anything. Whatever she comes up with is always brilliant.

It is an honor for me to present Hanna Werning to you.

1. Describe your design style for us.

I would rather let someone else describe my style :).  But I think that it is easy to see that I spring from a graphic background. I grew up close to the woods and nature in Sweden so that is always a great inspiration for me.

It is easier for me to describe my work method. I can define it in two categories; one where the design is driven by ideas and another that’s more visually driven by intuition of colors and rhythm. They can weave into each other. (Pay attention to the details in her work).

2. Where do you get your inspiration from?

From people watching, walking in cities, visiting the woods, from my mother’s things… Lots of inspiration comes from my childhood and the nature. I grew up in the southern middle of Sweden, which has a lot of dark woods. There was a local Swedish artist, John Bauer, that has inspired me a lot. I am also fond of Elsa Beskow’s stories. I also like folk art. My time in London has also inspired me, being able to get so much from all parts of the world at the same time.

(The kurbits wall sticker is Hanna’s design).

3. Do you have any design heroes?

The list is long! There are so many designers, artist, musicians, people that I admire. But I always enjoy seeing work by Charles & Ray Eames and listening to Otis Redding, Jackie Mitto and  Patti Smith on my Iphone.

4. When did you realize that design was going to be your destiny?

I kind of knew it at an early stage of my life but I didn’t believe it was a profession I could live on. I used to go to pottery classes every Friday for ten years as a kid. After many years working as a trainee, working within different media and after finishing St. Martins College there was no more question about it. This is what I want to do.

5. You are described today as somewhat of a graphic trendsetter. How were you in school?

I was anything but a trend setter! I was shy and didn’t want any special attention. I liked arts and crafts the most and that was one of my best subjects and I guess the classmates of mine would agree.

6. Which design accomplishment are you most proud of so far?

I think I haven’t made that piece yet! I’m still striving…

But of course my first wallpaper collection, called Hanna, for Boråstapeter is special to me.

And I really enjoyed working with my husband on a specific project – a machine that makes random drawings on plain, white wall paper. We call it Aparatus No. 1  ”Suddenly my wall was a mess – and I like it.”

7. Any particular design element(s) that you want to do more of?

I always have an urge to develop my skills and work process. Thinking environmentally – I probably should be doing less work?!

As a designer I always feel that it is a my responsibility to ask myself if my project is going to add something to the world or if it is going to ruin it. I am becoming more and more interested in ”public spaces” and making design worth while. Create meaningful art (at least to me and hopefully to others as well). There are so many existing places that need to be enhanced and visually beautified. Places that children and adults  pass everyday – where its presence will influence people in the future – whether they are aware of it or not.

8. What is your take on Swedish design in general?

I think that I paid more attention to it when I lived in London than now when I am right in the middle of it. But when I think of Swedish design of today and when I visit design schools, I see a lot creativity and new ways of thinking. Swedes have always been keen on sustainable design. I think that Swedish design tends to be honest to the material, distinct and often a bit humorous.

When people in general hear Scandinavian design they most likely think of simple, clean, classic lines. And I might not fit in that category! But things change quickly nowadays and with the Internet people get influences from all over the world. I think that design becomes more multi faceted and less homogeneous.

9. Anything new and interesting you are working on at the moment?

Earlier this year I finished an interior/public decoration for a small movie theater in a local school. The theater a is called the “Owl”. (See the owl eyes in the dark!)

Currently I am working on decorating the walls of the corridors of the same school. It is a very positive project in the sense that it is a space with lots of kids from different parts of the world with different cultures. The surroundings really affects kids growing up and if I could make a positive impact on these kids’ daily life I really think I have succeeded in a worthwhile design.

Other fun and interesting things I am currently working on are: Design work for a Spanish bathroom company. Making a Christmas illustration, thinking of a new wallpaper collection for Boråstapeter. And designing a new Summer picnic set for Sagaform.

10. Has motherhood changed you as an artist?

So far, it has only changed how I work practically (less time in my studio and more time working from home).

But becoming a parent is a truly an incredible experience and I starting to see the world with new eyes. For sure motherhood that will change my design process in the future.

11. Of all your skills and talent which one do you hope that your own daughter inherits?

Hard to answer… I hope she will be curious, confident in herself and not become a mini-me.

12. If your husband said (horror!) that you could only bring one design item to your next home. What would it be?

I hate to say it, but I guess it would be my Apple laptop! Not really an interior object but defiantly an object of design and usage.

13. Lastly, if we all got to spend an afternoon in Stockholm with you – where would you take us?

Summer in Stockholm is so beautiful! How about some Boule, Beer and BBQ in a beautiful park setting by the seaside? I would bring you to “Boule och Berså”.

Thank you Hanna! It has been a pleasure getting to know you (even) better! Best wishes for continued success. We will all be watching you!

Images: 1. Hanna Werning via Gustav Karlsson Frost, 2 + 3. Boråstapeter, 4. House of Dagmar, 5. Rörstrand, 6 + 7. Hanna Werning, 8. Elsa Beskow, 9. John Bauer, 10. Hanna Werning,  11-13. Pulled from the internet – can’t remember the source – sorry!, 14. Boråstapeter, 15-20. Hanna Werning. 21. Sagaform, 22. Apple, 23+ 24. Flickr.


  • WillowDecor says:

    Such a great article. I loved learning more about her. My favorite is the wall decal! I love it!

  • Carole says:

    A lovely post. Always like to read what makes designers tick. Her designs are very inspirational.

  • this is a great-fantastic-amazing post. love it! her work is indeed great, colourful, energetic… you can even feel texture without even touching it. Congrats on both: for sharing with us a great article.

  • I juust LOVE this post!!

  • Hey Monika,

    This was a really fun and interesting post. I liked learning about Hanna and her design process. Very illuminating!


  • Tina says:

    Great post, I really like Hanna – she´s a true talent!

    Hope you´re having a great day!

  • sandra says:

    Det var riktigt härligt att läsa, och vilka underbara saker och mönster hon gör:)
    Ja jag får komma och besöka Seattle någon dag…

  • Sara says:

    Åhh, Boule & Berså!! Ett fantastiskt ställe! Nu längtar jag efter sommarstockholm!


  • great post Monika! love those cups! I’m such a sucker for cups… hope you have a great day! xo

  • kiki says:

    Yahoo!! Monika, I am a lucky owner of her 5 eggcups, as of just before Easter this year, I happened to find them at the Red Cross store in Näsby Park for a song. I recognized them right away from you Mon telling me about her a year ago and I got them very fast before anyone discovered which designer it was.
    Sometimes one is lucky!

    Splendid Willow Reply:

    Hello all – thank you for your comments! I actually think that a piece of wall paper by Hanna could move in w. us in Seattle pretty soon!

    And Kiki, you area lucky girl!

    Hugs to you all!

  • Joe Clarke says:

    Hi Monika, I have seen her handsome cups in NY. Did not know that she was that broad. Thank you for educating us, I always learn a ton here!

  • This is a great post Mon and Hanna is just an amazing talent. We have been watching her for some time now – ever since we became obsessed with her groovy kurbits wall decal several years ago.

    Are her wallpapers available in the States?

    Splendid Willow Reply:

    Edie & Rhonda, I know that Boråstapeter sell in many different countries, worldwide, but from what I can see not in the US. Get on it – ladies! I will be your first customer! (So I don’t have to schlep wall paper all the way from Sweden).

    Hugs, Mon

  • Piper says:

    Love this post!! She’s amazing, wow. I think i’m now obsessed with those cups!! Oh and the wallpaper, love it. What a talent, thanks for sharing.

  • LOVE her style, and those cups . . . I so want them!!!

  • Oh my goodness, you were not kidding! I am CRAZY for her designs. I am in love w. every single thing you’ve shown here. I would die of happiness to wallpaper my house in her patterns. And those cups! They are just gorgeous. I’m dying over here, Mon, really! Thank you so much for this great introduction!

  • The Zhush says:

    Wow! She seems amazingly cool! Love that wallpaper! So, is everyone from Sweden gorgeous and a design genius!

  • Jenna says:

    Wow, great interview Mon. She has excellent design style!

    Thanks for asking about the job, its going so wonderfully! I just love it! It’s great to enjoy what I do…I meanI did go to school for this. It is rewarding and fun and makes me happy.

    Oh and yes, I have a Etsy Shop! Do check me out. I am rolling out prints of LOVE for the home.

    xo sweetie!

    Your wedding pictures are lovely, and your 3 kids are just stinking cute! Congrats on the Anniversary and I wish you many many more love!

  • liza says:

    I think I’m going to buy those mugs! I love her style. Thank you for the introduction!

  • Purple Area says:

    Wow, vilket bra inlägg, så utförligt och intressant skrivit. Härligt!!

  • Oh, I absolutely LOVED this post and visitng with Hanna. My daughter wants to go to art college and I’m going to send her a link to read about this inspiring artist. {She’s always been a bit afraid of the “starving artist” moniker!}
    That fabric is really divine ~ I’d be happy to frame a yard and hang it somewhere special. Thank you for the wonderful introduction to a really creative lady! xx P&H

  • this was such a lovely feature! i enjoy her wallpaper collection the most. thank you for the introduction to her work!

  • Greet says:

    It was very nice to read about Hanna! She is so creative and talented! I can imagine that she must be proud of the day she brought her first wall paper collection to market! So nice that you know this girl!! She is fantastic as you are!

  • Lovely interview, loved the question and answer about her daughter!

  • Mia says:

    Hej Monika och Hanna!
    Vad kul att få läsa så mycket intressant om en så duktig designer som dessutom kommer från Jönköping där jag bor!! Jag känner väl till biografen som hon designat – verkligen snyggt. Fantastiskt roligt att höra hur hon lyckats och imponerande CV. En stor inspirationskälla!
    Kram Mia

  • ashlina says:

    hi sweetie. wow. this is such a good article…i am actually extremely inspired now to do more of the things I want to pursue. WOW! i love it all. her patterns are amazing. LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. do more! 😉

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