Born by Subtraction

Louise Odelberg, design director and co-founder of Born by Subtraction, chats to us about managing a satellite studio between Byron Bay and Bali, how students can prepare to join the design industry while you're still studying, and talks us through her daily rituals that help her manage a healthy working-from-home balance.

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?

I’m from Sweden, so I did my first semester at Berghs School of Communication in Stockholm and finished my Bachelor at Billy Blue College of Design in Sydney. My first experience in the design industry was at Interbrand where I did an internship over the summer while studying, my first paid job was a freelance designer at Billy Blue College of Design (Think Education). My first role as a junior designer was at e2 Experiential Environments; this included a lot of corporate design work as well as signage and graphics for spaces.

What did you do while you were studying to prepare you for the design industry?

I took part in lots of activities and industry events, talked to people in the industry, took initiatives both at uni and outside of it. I also held/curated an exhibition called ‘A Love Brief’ together with my previous lecturer, now my business partner.

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How did you name your practice and what does the name represent to you?

My business partner bought the domain for our business years before we started. Born By Subtraction stands for ‘removing what is not essential to purpose’, and it is how we operate our business and our design practice.

Talk us through a typical working day include for you right now.

  • Get up and exercise straight away. I find this helps clear my mind and elevate my energy levels during the day. Coffee number one. While the coffee is kicking in, I get through admin and emails to plan my day, and try to manage my dogs' first energy burst!

  • I usually get the smaller jobs out of the way, before I get on a morning conference call (WIP) with my business partner in Bali. We discuss our joint game-plan for the day, which usually also involves a good amount of shit-/pep-talking.

  • Coffee number two to keep me running to lunch, while doing a bit more of design work until I get ‘hangry’.

  • More work, take my dogs for a proper walk, and work until I’m not productive anymore.

  • To finish the day I wrap it up with some sales or social scheduling.

I work from home most of the time so I start my mornings early as they are my most productive time, which means that I can finish a little earlier: work/life balance!

Our work at the moment ranges from branding, packaging, website UI design, reports and social media content.

Design work by Born by Subtraction The Design Kids interviews Born by Subtraction work-4
Design work by Born by Subtraction The Design Kids interviews Born by Subtraction work-4

Daily rituals are very important to create a space conducive to creativity and maintain a healthy work/life balance — quality not quantity.

How does the local culture of where you live affect your design work and getting clients?

We’re an online ‘satellite’ studio and our clients are spread out across the world. I’m based in Byron Bay (and my business partner is in Bali) so our daily rituals are very important to create a space conducive to creativity and maintain a healthy work/life balance — quality not quantity. Our clients mostly come from referrals, sometimes via online platforms such as The Loop and Instagram.

Whats the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Put out what you want to receive.

Design work by Born by Subtraction The Design Kids interviews Born by Subtraction work-6
Design work by Born by Subtraction The Design Kids interviews Born by Subtraction work-6

Where to find Born by Subtraction online.

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