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A Mobile Design Studio Hits the Road in Sweden

Eriks Designbuss is bringing custom design to the Swedish countryside, in exchange for the necessities of life on the road.

Summer may be the season of the roadtrip, but soaring gas prices can make the classic adventure a less appealing plan. For those of us who have always wanted to take a roadtrip but lacked the funds to pull it off, a Swedish adventurer provides a model for travel that's both thrifty and interesting. Erik Olovsson, a recent design-school graduate, converted an old motorhome into a mobile design studio as part of his thesis. This spring and summer, he's brought his work wherever he roams, exchanging design for the necessities of life on the road.

"I want to explore new ways of working and, above all, get closer to the customer," Olovsson says in the project's description (translated from Swedish). It's a statement against the traditional office-bound design job where clients are consulted with by Skype and email. Olovsson, on the other hand, is angling for face-to-face interaction. "It is rare that a designer gets a deeper insight into the client's business," he adds. "It's easy to be sitting in the office and surf design blogs instead of finding inspiration from reality."

He's found that taste of "reality" among people young and old from small towns around Sweden. Chronicling his travels on his blog, Olovsson's designs so far include a poster for a lady's letter-writing group and a redesigned label for a Swedish-owned mango processing factory in Burkina Faso. He's traded T-shirt design for a massage and website advice for cinnamon rolls, and he's thrown impromptu saxophone concerts on the bus's roof.

While Olovsson's Designbuss may feel like a modern update on the classic hippy van, his design aesthetic skews more Scandanavian than flower power, which is to say, it looks nice.

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