The Sweden that never happened

I’m in love with Sweden. A serene, vast and contrasting place in the northernmost part of the planet. Here we are small while nature is big. We fall deeply in love with summer every year after we’ve had complete darkness for months. Outside the climate shifts like it was a continent, people are way too humble, and things are famously “just right”.

Me and David at Identity Works got word about the pitch competition for building the digital identity and the official website of Sweden, and rushed to sign up. We were late, leaving us with only a week to come up with a new approach for the digital Sweden. A big task. How to distill all the feelings? Are we even worthy? That hot summer week in Stockholm 2012 was one of the most inspiring design sprints of my life. Below is my short reflection and the original pitch, told as a product walk through.

The idea in short

To make Sweden the most shareable country on Earth, we built an information architecture simplified down to Cards and Indexes. Cards was the content, like ABBA, Spotify, Midsummer, Vikings — things that make up our country. Indexes were collections of cards that anyone could create, telling others their story of Sweden - My 10 Favourite Hikes, Summer Techno Acts, Top Universities, Nature, Music etc.

Explaining the bigger purpose of the product is as important as building it.

So, how did it go?

Not that is of much comfort, but we actually came in second place, in front of many top firms, but behind the winner Söderhavet. Knowing how their pitch looked then, I find some rest seeing that a few of the ideas laid out below made it into their

Looking at it now, the focus on building a service, instead of your typical editor driven webpage, was the key, and something I wish Söderhavet and Swedish Institute would pick up on. But we ultimately failed in explaining the idea in a broader sense, so no need for me to be smart about it.

I was disappointed for a long time. There’s not many chances to envision and build the identity and platform for your own country, maybe that was my only shot. But, I still have a few fingers crossed.

Until then, below is our original pitch from 2012, brought to you as 6 pages from a PDF (yes that’s how they wanted it delivered).

And for anyone who follows me, indeed, this was what set things in motion for the start of Shorti.

Good things :D

Robin Frank

Better a bird in your hand than 10 in the forest, the old saying goes. With we imagined having both, a beautiful place to call home AND thousands of information cards out there.

Thanks for reading all the way!

Thanks to David and Identity Works for the love.

Check out my latest project, Shorti. Get your knowledge read, collected and shared with short information cards.

Need help with your product or pitch? I’m a Swedish creative and designer working with startups you’ve never heard of. Yet.