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The Proust Questionnaire: Featuring Daniel Carlsten


y work is based on discussion, insight and intuition. My wish is for my clients, my partners and myself to be within the target group of what we are creating, so that we can build our work on what we ask for as an audience. My belief is that you have to love in order to become loved, and that you will have to give in order to receive. That is, by acting generously and by expressing passion for what you do, chances are that others will like it too.” Daniel Carlsten is a visual philosopher of our times. Being art director, graphic designer and illustrator at the creative collective ACNE (which owns the Swedish fashion Powerhouse Acne Studios) from 2004 to 2009 is just a small part of his extensive and, frankly, impressive portfolio of work. Today, this 34 years old Stockholmian is a force on his own as he designs visual identities, books, catalogues, stationery, posters, invitations, packaging and imagery for a wide and international range of clients the likes of Herman Miller, Oscar Properties, Steidl, Bozarthfornell Architects and Nowness. Daniel Carlsten was awarded the scholarship for promising talent (Kycklingstipendiet) by The Swedish Association of Communication Agencies in 2006, one year later he served on the design jury of Guldägget, he has been nominated and awarded in Guldägget, Kolla and OneShow, and he has received diplomas from the Danish and Swedish business press for work within graphic design and illustration. Daniel Carlsten, who obviously has a thing for Century Gothic, has lectured at Beckmans College of Design, Forsbergs School of Advertising and Design, Berghs School of Communication, HDK School of Design & Crafts and Hyper Island, yet, somehow, he found some time to bare his soul for us.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being fully present in whatever I do.

What is your greatest fear?
Losing everything. 

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Whenever someone tries to increase their status by ridiculing others.     

Which living person do you most admire?
It changes all the time. At the moment, Marina Abramović. 

What is your greatest extravagance?
The independence that comes from being self-employed. Being able to come and go as I please, and saying yes and no to assignments based on my own ethics and interests.

What is your current state of mind?
Confused, as a result of dwelling on all these questions regarding who I am.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Being photogenic.

On what occasion do you lie?
Whenever the truth is part of a good surprise.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My morning appearance.

Which living person do you most despise?
I don’t despise people.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
The ability to make others feel good and comfortable about themselves.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
The ability to make others feel good and comfortable about themselves.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I try as much as I can to overuse the phrase “I love you”.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My wife and son. 

When and where were you happiest?
At the place and time my son was born.

Which talent would you most like to have?
Public speaking skills.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Worry less.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Staying self-employed.  

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
An improved me. 

Where would you most like to live?
Close to friends.

What is your most treasured possession?

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Not being able to care for my kid.

What is your favorite occupation?

What is your most marked characteristic?
My ability to see things from different angles. At best, it makes me creative, diplomatic and understanding. At worst, it makes me indecisive, anxious and confused.

What do you most value in your friends?
The ability to make me feel good and comfortable about myself.

Who are your favorite writers?
Yoko Ono. Jenny Holzer.

Who is your hero of fiction?
It changes all the time. At the moment, the Frog in Frog & Friends. 

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
I am too bad at history to know.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Anyone who dares to oppose his or her fears to achieve something they want.

What are your favorite names?
Apart from our son’s name, Louie, I also have a list of other great names for possible future siblings of his. I will keep them secret until they come to use. I think it is only fair that a kid gets to know his or her name before anyone else.

What is it that you most dislike?
Fear and anxiety. Nothing good can come from those.

What is your greatest regret?
Probably something I didn’t do.

What is your motto?
I try to convince myself that good enough ain’t bad. It’s not a motto per se, but it certainly helps me deal with things every now and then.