Why Sustainability Needs A Serious Makeover

Designer and Goodlifer editor Johanna Björk tells why embracing sustainable living is an upgrade not a sacrifice.

Blending what we desire with what we need is a recipe for pushing boundaries and breaking new ground. In Dynamic Doers, a series by PSFK and iQ by Intel, we look at versatile entrepreneurs, artists, designers, and developers who are always evolving and changing much like the Intel based 2 in1s, a line of new multifunctional devices that are a tablet when you want it and a laptop when you need it.

Johanna Björk has always loved starting things. A designer originally from Stockholm, she has a unique aesthetic sense that has driven her to create things that defy the status quo.

After working in New York and Miami for clients such as Art Basel Miami Beach, The National Football League, The NY Jets, and W Hotels she started her own design practice J.BJÖRK which she ran out of NYC and now, Southern California.

In 2008, Björk started Goodlifer, a web magazine dedicated to sharing insights, inspiration and tips on how to live the good life while still being sustainable, ethical and supportive of local communities and artisans.

Björk’s keen creative mind allows her flip from one project to another, and continue to be inspired by all of them. Her ability to pivot in this way has helped her to see the connections between various worlds like design, fashion and eco-activism, allowing her to interweave them together to push the boundaries of what is possible in each separate industry.

In a recent conversation with Bjork, she explained why personal creative freedom is essential, simplicity is the thing people understand the least about design and why living a socially conscious life doesn’t have to be a sacrifice.

Dynamic Doers - Johanna Bjork

What inspired you to create J.BJÖRK?

I had been a designer for over 10 years before going out on my own. I’d worked at advertising agencies and design firms, I’d worked in‑house at a very large company. I just felt like I wanted some more freedom to see if I could hack it on my own.

Have you always wanted to be your own boss?

I don’t know, actually. I’ve always worked on multiple projects, even when I had jobs at large agencies. I’ve always been a person that isn’t really satisfied by doing only one thing.

Dynamic Doers - Johanna Bjork

What do you think is lacking from design today and how is your work at J.BJÖRK trying to fill that void?

I think being small and nimble is a very interesting thing these days, especially for clients, because when you work with big firms, you don’t really get to know the people who actually work on your projects. I think that’s something that I can offer people, a personal connection.

What do you think is the strongest misconception about what makes good design?

To me, simplicity is very important. I think designing something really simple and elegant is one of the hardest things to do. People are always looking for more bells and whistles and don’t truly understand simplicity.

Dynamic Doers - Johanna Bjork

Why did you decide to start Goodlifer?

I had just moved to New York City from Miami and I felt like I wanted to create something because I was feeling a bit down about the world. I thought that a site where you could share socially beneficially things like products, services, and people would inspire others to change their lives for the better.

What are the main goals of Goodlifer?

It’s about what the Good Life means in the 21st century. I feel like the meaning of that phrase is shifting from being solely materialistic to making a difference in the world.

I don’t feel like living a sustainable life or living a good life should be a sacrifice. You shouldn’t have to feel like you’re downgrading, it should be an upgrade to your life.

Do you find it challenging having to balance the two projects?

Sometimes. But I also enjoy having a lot of things going on at one time, and being able to switch gears so that I never get too stuck on something for a long period of time.

Dynamic Doers - Johanna Bjork

Looking at today’s working world there seems to be a trend towards people having more than one project. How do you think this is changing our culture?

I think about this a lot. I feel like it’s something we’re getting more and more used to as a general population. It’s about feeling like we’re more empowered to pursue our dreams and pursue those passions that we have. Even if it means that we’re doing 20 things at a time.

I’ve always been interested in fashion. I started writing a lot about sustainable fashion in New York as part of Goodlifer.

I started meeting a lot of people and started getting very involved in that community. I’ve decided to dedicate a little bit of time to volunteering with these activist‑related organizations. I’ve ended up helping them develop their identities and their profile and visual representation, which is nice, because I feel like that’s something that I can contribute and give back to these people doing good work.

So having multiple projects can give you opportunities to grow new skills.

What lessons do you think you’ve learned over the course of creating and developing these projects?

Collaborating with good people is what I find the most satisfying.  People are very willing to help you with various things so you shouldn’t be afraid to put yourself out there and ask for advice.

Dynamic Doers - Johanna Bjork

Is there any advice that you would give to young creatives looking to start their own projects?

Definitely. Taking your time to do something and really figuring out what you want this thing to be without being afraid to launch something. These side projects can be great ways of meeting people that you might not otherwise meet or connecting with people in some kind of community or field that you want to get into. It’s a good springboard to get yourself to some other place you might want to discover more about.

J.BJÖRK // Goodlifer

Images by Marc Alt

Blending what we desire with what we need is a recipe for pushing boundaries and breaking new ground. In Dynamic Doers, a series by PSFK and iQ by Intel, we look at versatile entrepreneurs, artists, designers, and developers who are always evolving and changing much like the Intel based 2 in1s, a line of new multifunctional devices that are a tablet when you want it and a laptop when you need it.

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