Highlights of 2011!

The year has gone by in a flash, and looking back now, I realize there were so many amazing experiences! It really feels like a snowball effect; that by taking steps and risks towards what you truly desire, that so many good things follow!

In December/January, on my way to Taiwan to visit Per, I visited Copenhagen again, revisiting the place that inspired me – the Danish Design Center – along with the industrial design museum. I also got a taste of Russia, with a stop-over in Moscow, where I had my most entertaining flight to date, on Russian Aeroflot airlines… You can ask me about the story in person =) I got a lot of new impressions, met with old classmates from Umeå, and shopped till my backpack was bursting with cool and cheap Taiwanese fashion.

Taiwan, Chiang-Kai Shek Memorial

Taiwan, Toroko Gorge

New design inspirations from Taiwan =) =)

Rang in 2011 with Eve at Luxy nightclub in Taipei

Back in school for the winter/spring, completed 3 good school projects, all of them with positive feedback from our teachers and the companies! Volvo Cars encouraged me, along with 3 others in my class, to apply for jobs at Volvo because “we need engineers like you”. My lighting teacher passed along the name of a company that he thought I should pitch my lamp to (though I haven’t had time to follow through yet).

My Volvo seat concept

My helicopter concept

My work lamp concept

In February, I visited Stockholm twice. Once to see the Stockholm furniture fair, visiting with some friends, and the second on my way up to Umeå to visit my friend Roy, also spent visiting a museum with fantastic impressions, and crashing with a couchsurfing friend!

Stockholm furniture fair. Love this bedroom, but especially the lamp!!

Another interesting photo exhibit.. Basically Sweden had the lowest housing standard in the 1930s until they formed what is now the Swedish Consumer Agency, that observed, tested and made recommendations for household appliances.. the start of Swedish design?

Snow castle in Umeå. Amazingly no one steals the reindeer fur set on the benches, so that everyone can enjoy them… the Swedish collective

I visited Vienna in April, a dream of mine for some years, to revel in the artwork of Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt.

Vienna, secessionist building

A second visit to Umeå in June to visit friends again, see the (amazing and inspirational) degree show, and the keynote speaker Richard Seymour, an extremely inspiring and optimistic designer! Said something along the lines of…

“Technology is not our limitation, our imagination is!”

I got an email response to a summer internship I applied for, along with a second follow up! I didn’t secure the position, but the fact that I am getting responses to my work is very encouraging!

Spent the summer flying and travelling around the globe, literally. Starting in June from Denmark, to Taiwan, China, New York, Canada, and back to Sweden for September.

In Taiwan, I took it easy for most of the 3 weeks, to sleep, recover and plan the China trip, though we had time to celebrate Swedish midsommar and made one last excursion out to Green Island. We only spent 2 days and 1 night on Green Island, but I would highly recommend it if you are in Taiwan, to take a scooter around the island and snorkel or scuba dive. I was skeptical about how good the snorkelling could be, so close to the shore, but I would say it was maybe the best snorkelling I have ever had!

Swedish midsommar celebration in Taiwan

Green Island, Taiwan

Green Island, Taiwan

I had planned to write about our 5 week China trip in a separate blog entry, but I’ve been so busy that I never got around to it. China is at once exhilarating, frustrating, fascinating, and full of scammers but also very kind people… It was my third visit to China, and so much has changed even from 2005 and 2008. The amount of tourism is growing staggeringly fast, especially by the growing middle class, but English is still quite limited in most places. I was grateful that Per learned quite a bit of Chinese, as there were many situations where we would not have made our way without it. I had intended to write about a lot of travel advice and tips to avoid scams that I would give to people planning to travel there independently, but maybe it’ll have to wait another day…

Irregardless, I would say that Sichuan province, particulary towards the Tibetan areas, was the highlight of our trip… If only the Chinese government had not stopped us and all western tourists from continuing onwards,”closing” all Tibetan districts, forcing us to turn back to Chengdu after all the trouble it took us to get there…

Shanghai

Panda center in Chengdu

Children’s school play in Kangding, Sichuan province

Tibetan gravestone in Kangding, Sichuan province

Day hiking in Kangding

Rich, yak-butter filled Tibetan bread… soooo good!

Xi’an muslim night market

Stepping up Hua Shan. One of 2 famous mountains we walked up (Emei Shan the other)

Beijing’s 798 Art District… the most interesting, and ‘authentic’ part of Beijing for me

On an “illegal” and little visited part of the Great Wall with a random local who insisted on a photo together. He came running down from another tower in worn out shower slippers yelling at us to “Be careful!” and to hold onto the sides of the wall for support, since we were falling on our asses despite proper hiking boots. Amazing!

I flew onwards to New York (my first ever visit!), while Per spent a few more days in Beijing before he would go onwards to Thailand for a few days. I stayed with my sister for 10 days at her ritzy place on Park Avenue (I think it was the first time we got to see each other in 2 years?). I was able to visit a great design exhibit at MoMa, as well as an exhibit with Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele at an Austrian art museum! I also had a chance to catch up with an old classmate from Umeå a few times over lunch! Nice thing about having studied in Umeå is that you make friends from all over the world!

To sum up New York…  The museums were great, the food a bit disappointing and expensive, and the sites – well, a bit uninteresting considering the several thousand year old sites I had visited in China. For me, the best part of New York was the people and the people watching! I could imagine living there would be great… only if you could manage a high paying job that would cover the astronomical rents, and one that wouldn’t expect inhumane working hours…

Where else but New York City?

Returning to Canada, I managed to squeeze in quite a lot of visits, and errands, with the highlight being two of my best friends getting married to each other! Of course it felt a bit short, but I was glad I always had someone to see or something to do, and was never bored.

Tim Horton’s, how I miss you!

Back in Sweden in September, we managed to squeeze in one last sailing trip. We could actually swim too, though it was 17 C in the water, which made it very short bathing.

End of Swedish summer sailing

The sailing trip would foreshadow the theme of “compact living” for the fall semester… Our school project would be to design a caravan, and the project would take the full 3+ months. I spent a lot of hours, days and nights in the project – some of it feeling very stressed. But overall it was very fun, designing my “dream” caravan – one that would show my design philosophy and aesthetic in my portfolio. In the end, they chose 2 projects from the class to be “closed” for possible further development. One of the ones they picked was me! Ironic that in doing the project for myself, and to show in my portfolio, meant that the company was so impressed by my result that I am no longer able to show it to anyone due to confidentiality… Awesome! =)

Along with a momentary payment came an offer to continue the work for our thesis project. I had to turn it down because I already secured a great company for my thesis! I had managed to secure one interview with a company doing a project that would have been beyond my expectations, but the client funding fell through. Still, I am very happy that they liked my portfolio enough to call me in! The other interview I secured, and will continue my final thesis project work with, is Haglöfs – which is like the North Face of Sweden! Beyond excited and almost in disbelief!

Between working hard on my portfolio and the caravan project, we took a little time out in October to visit Copenhagen, Denmark and Germany!

Koge, Denmark

Per and I also managed to experiment a little with some new recipes for the moose he hunted.

Successful first attempt at ossobucco, made with moose meat

Winter arrived, at least for a few days, here in southern Sweden

And now it’s been my fifth Christmas in a row away from Canada. Miss my friends and family a little, but glad I have a Swedish “family” to celebrate with. All in all I would say it’s been an amazing year, and I know that the coming years have even more in store for me. Happy new year to all!

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