[This interview is mirrored from: Stylelab.nu]

Name:Johan Thorngren
Born:Uppsala, Sweden
Location: Now in San Francisco, CA, US.
Sites:http://www.portfolj.com (personal portfolio);
http://www.entrance3.com ;
http://www.hardwear.net (furniture design);
and a few more coming soon.
Intrests:Design, Music and communication of all sorts.
Eat: Asian and Latin food.
Drink:Beer and Wine mostly.

Short description of your self:
I guess I'm a pretty standard looking swede, tall (about 6'2''), blonde and blue eyed. But I left my heart in Madrid and I plan on moving back there later on when I feel ready to tackle the Spanish. Been through the lot with graffiti, demo groups (Cascada, FAiC), print and most other types of non-internet based design.

Where do you work now?
I work at Icon Medialab. Started out in the Stockholm office in 1996, moved to Madrid and now here in San Francisco where I've been for more than 2 years.

So you are working at IML as a creative director, describe your position, what is your role?
Im currently the Acting Creative Director at the San Francisco office as well as an Art Director/Designer. Meaning that Im very much on the production side of things as well as setting up and refining work processes, recruiting, sales and other management details.

Can you describe your internet history, from when it all started and into this millenium?
My internet history .. hum. Well I started in Sweden during 1995 I think it was. Me and a few friends (Hi Erik) saw that we could start making money on it. This multi-competency focused company (m-media) was way before Icon Medialab, Spray and Razorfish and all that. After a while I felt a bit tired of wearing all the hats you need to have in a small company and I joined Icon Medialab in 1996 as employee #16, so I've seen it grow a lot. I worked with a few clients in Sweden (among them the Swedish Armed Forces). I got asked to move to Madrid (1997) to help start that office, and was there for about a year. Worked with, among others, Mercedes Benz A Class site (published in some books). In 1998 I requested a transfer to the San Francisco office where I had a friend working at the time. During 1999 I launched the Portfölj site, to be able to sell myself in external pitches and alike, being mainly my portfolio and showing some old and new work. When seeing for example the paintbox, keep in mind its almost 3 years old :). I will probably put some interface experiments up there soon. In mid 1999 I also launched the Entrance3 site which is the homepage for the organization I started at the same time. Being a collection of designers, artists and musicians, the goal being to have a loosely tied networking organization in where we can create and start projects of various kinds. You will see three new projects getting initiated fairly soon. In late 1999, I created the hardwear.net site. A ecommerce project with a fairly unique business concept that will be having its 1.0 launch in a month or two. 2000, hum.. well ..currently Im pretty sick of how "web designers" work and interact with each other compared to other design competencies, so my goal currently is to try to change that and start a few projects to help younger designers.

When did you leave Sweden?
A little more than 3 years ago.

What are your passions in life, on and off the net?
Currently I'm focusing on my career, even if that means focusing a lot on personal projects right now. Off work I love talking to and meeting new people. Seeing movies. Clubbing and music. Music-wise I'm always experimenting in doing my own and DJing a bit, but nothing I would call -- good. But above all, design. In all medias.

When you are creating, which tools are you using, software -> hardware?
Software and hardware is never important. I use what I deem necessary at the time. Designers of today seem to have to large of a fixation of computers and what version of Photoshop they use, Design is not about that. I use a 2B Pencil as much as I use a computer.

What programming skills do you have?
Well, I don't know if I would say that I have any skills when it comes to programming and math at all. But my knowledge is basically limited to flavors of javascript -- DHTML and ASP.

What do you think the internet will look like in the nearest future. Flash / DHTML / 3d other techniques?
Flash will be more commonly used as time goes by. Some functionality is still to wish for and the demographics is still not there. On the commercial side I wish that companies could start to approach web site building more as a ad agency approaches campaigns. As well as starting to care for the users and to create functional and easy to grasp web sites. Other than that, the core of the www -- HTML -- will still be what is used the most with the addition of some more advanced javascript when that start to get better implemented in Netscape. Currently what you can do in IE, well exceeds NNs capabilities. The internet are currently in an exploding phase when it comes to online gaming. I don't separate between online multi player games as Homeworld or in-browser games. But, the multi player games will definitely be bigger and more complex until they will start to form virtual realities. VR environments where you go and live another life. Meeting people, chatting accomplishing missions and such. Further away we will of course be looking at the VR helmets again. But not until you have normal screen based VR environments. People will get addicted to these pseudo-social environments.

What advice can you give for aspiring designers?
Go to school, get a mentor. Practice, practice, practice a lot even before calling yourself a designer. Move, don't get stuck in front of a computer, read the papers Leonardo da Vinci wrote, observe architecture -- good design exists in many areas -- and when you design, think. Everything should have a meaning of some sorts. Talking about mentors, heres a shameless plug for a new project : http://www.entrance3.com/mentor

What are your future plans?
I will move back to Madrid sometime in the near future and I will be back at my own design company sooner or later. But when? Have no idea. If those two will be combined and if I will have anything to do with the web is another question. My dream would be to have my own design company with 10+ people and being flexible about markets. Much closer than that, I believe I will be more closely involved in Corporate Identities and brand management which is a aspect of design which intrigues me as well as motion graphics.

What are you doing when you are 50 years of age, still producing web?
Ha ha, no. I hope not. I like changing my mediums as much as I can. I doubt that the internet will be around in 5-10 years and if it is, doubt that Ill be working on it by then.

Do you want to give credits to any particular person that has forced you on the way to become what you are now?
I don't think anyone has forced me to become what I am in any way. But people that have inspired me all through my life to my first teacher in 1st grade to people I work with currently. I feel that if I would mention anyone I would leave to many out.

Do you have any futuristic crazy idea that you dream of to publish on the internet?
I have way to many ideas and way to many projects in the air, to mention a single one here. But what I'm trying to do currently is more offline, interior design, furniture and print.

What are your favorite sites and why?
I don't know if I have any favorite sites, the ones I use the most is sites like adweek.com, commarts.com and kozmo.com.

Was there any final comments you wanted to leave us with?
Well, Entrance3 is always looking for people interested in new projects and I always enjoy chatting, having a beer or helping out. So, my personal email is johan@hardwear.net As well, any designers in the bay area need some work? :)

Thanks Johan, and good luck with everything. Just mail me if you´re moving back to Madrid to start your new firm and need people for it. :)