Charlotte Ackemar

SWEDEN (1986)
Designer Charlotte Ackemar says, “I see with my hands.” While she’s inspired by talking with other creative people about work, “the best is when I can experience it and embrace it myself. I love touching things.”

Ackemar grew up in Onsala, on the west coast of Sweden, a five-minute walk from the ocean. Her childhood was “based on being outdoors and in, on and by the water all summer long. It’s quite an idyllic place, especially in the summer.” Influenced by her mother, a ceramicist, she began making things with her hands. Both parents, whom Ackemar describes as “problem solvers, always giving it a try,” schooled her in learning by doing, professionally and in everyday life. And with two older siblings, Ackemar was exposed early to teenage tastes in movies and music – even to Photoshop, which her brother and sister taught her when she was 13 so she could design a cover for a school essay about Roald Dahl.

The groundwork laid, Ackemar opted to pursue design in high school. She remembers, “I chose what I thought I was good at and what was fulfilling. I was curious about where it could take me and curious to be with other people who shared the same interest.” She went on to study design in her homeland, graduating in 2009 from the Academy of Design and Crafts in Gothenburg then receiving a master’s of interior architecture and furniture design in 2013 from Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm.

Already in her short career, Ackemar’s work has been recognized. Tick Tock, her Scandinavian take on the traditional upright grandfather clock, updated to a simple geometric form constructed of plywood, won the 2012 Muuto Talent award. She was also listed in Wallpaper magazine’s Graduate Directory for 2014, a yearly list of design talents to keep an eye on. After an internship with Note Design Studio, Ackemar joined the multidisciplinary Stockholm-based studio as a product designer in 2015.

Founded in 2008, Note works collaboratively, giving a voice on each project to the studio’s product design, interior design, architecture, graphics and strategy team members, as a way of pushing boundaries, identifying what is unique about a project and then emphasizing that uniqueness. For Ackemar, work also needs to be fun. “When you are having fun you are creative, and most of the time you get fantastic ideas. Working as a team, together with inspiring clients, is a good recipe.”

In 2017, Ackemar and Note designed the Note Collection, including the Note Stacking Chair, for Design Within Reach. The brief called for creation of a modern café chair using the least possible means, while keeping the human being in focus. For Note, a chair is about the whole experience, not just the aesthetics, so they were up for the challenge. The team always wants users to feel it’s thought of them throughout the design process, and Ackemar herself has little patience for “sitting in a chair that makes you change position every three seconds. It should make you feel comfortable and satisfied, otherwise people around the dinner table will know it.”

Ackemar hopes to achieve that same satisfaction with all of her designs. “I love when people interact with something new, then get a big smile on their face. I want people to appreciate the beauty in things. An object can be absolutely stunning on its own, but I love when it can also bring something extra to the environment, to bring the best out of an experience.
An object can be absolutely stunning on its own, but I love when it can also bring something extra to the environment, to bring the best out of an experience.