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Stockholm’s Hippstory (or Hipp! as they’re also known) combine Scandinavian cool with artisan techniques, while always keeping ethics to the fore.
Perhaps best known for their homewares, bags and greeting cards (you might recognise their cartoon-like, colourfully graphic trays and coasters with their signature faces), the company’s beginnings were in jewellery – founder Julia Nielson’s first outlet was on her stall in London’s Spitalfields market, where she sold flamingo earrings made out of leftover scraps of leather.
Let’s rewind a little further. Julia was born and grew up in Gothenburg. She moved to London in 1997 to study an Art and Design Foundation course, then completed a BA in Visual Communication Design at Middlesex University, before working for a couple of years in graphic design. After her success in Spitalfields in 2004 she moved to Stuttgart; returning home to Stockholm in 2006. She worked in illustration and jewellery, then branched into bags and greeting cards. In 2008 she ventured into retail, running a shop and studio in Stockholm with two other product designers, and adding home and kitchen accessories to her collection, selling wholesale internationally.
In 2013 she opened her own Hipp! store in Stockholm’s Sofo district. The store was a huge success, praised by New York Times, Condé Nast Traveller and Vogue France. The Tate Modern and Liberty have both stocked her work. In 2014 she won an award for “best new products” at Maison et Objet, a professional trade fair held in Paris, and her work has been stocked in at least 200 shops across five continents.
The birth of Julia’s daughter meant a change in direction for the company – Julia wanted to spend less time spent on running a physical store, and – good news for her fans – focus on her design work. In 2019 Hippstory moved from Stockholm to the beautiful island of Gotland in the Baltic and became a part of the island’s rich craft and design industry.
The company strives to keep its carbon footprint to a minimum, using only road and sea transport where possible and eliminating plastics from its packaging. Ethics are also important when it comes to choosing materials. Julia loves to work with renewably sourced and Fsc approved Swedish Birchwood Veneer. “It's a wonderfully strong organic material, beautiful with the layers of wood visible from the side” she says “…and as I get my designs and illustrations pressed into the wood, the design possibilities are endless. I also like how it ties the jewellery to my interior accessories products”.
Inspiration can come from “anything I see, from the pattern a stack of wooden logs make together to how a bunch of colours look together” she says. “The most important thing is how it looks on the wearer, that the shape of the piece actually flatters the human shape”.
Her design process begins with “a lot of messy sketches”. She sketches designs and patterns, draws them to the right size on thicker paper, cuts them out and either tries them on or holds them up to a mirror, to see what it looks like. She plays with size and jewellery findings, experiencing how the design feels to wear. When she’s happy with the shape she draws it up in Illustrator.
A maker in Germany converts her files to CAD and cuts the final parts out with a computer controlled CNC cutter. These are sent to Julia who assembles the pieces by hand.
We love Hippstory’s tiny, colourful Nano earrings, which, for such weeny pieces, pack a statement punch; her Flash collection, which sprinkle a little Bowie magic over your jewellery collection, and her clever Puzzle necklace, which is sharply modern, but with a solid, artisanal core.
Julia’s colour-focussed, witty and thorough design sensibilities, her ethical processes and her body-positive approach to design make her a perfect fit for Arlette Gold. Get Hipp!