The Copenhagen-based design studio, Glad Design, reached a significant milestone at the Danish Design Award 2021 when they won the Employment Growth Award for their original design solution for Uniqlo
This year’s Christmas presents bought at Uniqlo stores in Denmark were wrapped in the unique Japanese Furoshiki designed by Glad Design. A traditional Japanese wrapping cloth that is eco-friendly and primarily used for gift-wrapping.
The collaboration between Uniqlo and Glad Design is a rather special one, as all the illustrators at Glad Design have disabilities. Despite that, a typical day at Glad Design is much like any other studio, as the order book dictates which services to work on.
Located in the northwestern part of Copenhagen, the design studio is staffed by two experienced graphic designers, a creative assistant, and ten illustrators. All of the illustrators draw exclusively by hand, and it is precisely the hand-drawn, spontaneous lines combined with tight graphics that give their work such unique expression.
Work that matters
As a part of the Glad Foundation, Glad Design is a socio-economic design company where people with and without disabilities work together to create graphic design. The basic premise at Glad is that people with different backgrounds can contribute to making our society a better place.
Despite our best efforts, including people with disabilities in collaborations and projects can be challenging. Nevertheless, when customers such as Uniqlo purchase products and services from Glad Design, they contribute to social sustainability by creating more jobs for people with disabilities, including them in society, and contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals of social sustainability.
“The ability to make one’s own money and to see your products being used to solve a regular need for a customer gives every individual a sense of accomplishment and purpose,” says Jannie Jalloh, Department Manager at Glad Design.
She also expresses the pride and joy shared by her colleagues in the fact that an international brand like Uniqlo has had the “guts” to collaborate and use its original designs.
“A successful brand like Uniqlo has an important voice in the fashion world, and therefore it means a lot to us that they have the courage to collaborate with us and show our unique designs,” Jannie Jalloh continues.
Spreading joy during the pandemic
During the collaboration with Uniqlo, the creative outset at Glad Design was to spread joy and positive thoughts in a world paralyzed by Covid-19. Thus, the traditional Japanese wrapping cloth, the Furoshiki, was embellished with uplifting illustrations of Japanese symbols of luck.
“Due to the pandemic, we noticed an increasing tendency to look in the direction of positivity and authenticity. We are experiencing a greater appreciation for its illustrations, which exude the values that are sought by the world today; the natural, organic, inventive, and immediate,” says Jannie Jalloh about the Furoshiki collection that became so popular that Uniqlo stores in France and Sweden asked permission to use the design.
Glad Design has also made sustainability a top priority as part of the design process. Consequently, the Furoshiki was chosen as the material, as the square piece of fabric is reusable, unlike the typical gift wrap. The Furoshiki’s are produced sustainably by local textile and sewing companies, resulting in minimal environmental impact.
A true win-win situation
The jury of the Danish Design Award 2021 had no doubt that Glad Design deserved to win the Employment Growth Award. Especially due to the fact that the Glad Foundation has made an organization where it is viable to engage people with cognitive challenges into so many different contexts.
It has been of great importance for the people at Glad Design to have won the award. “First and foremost, it gives us a tremendous sense of professional pride. The award is based on the quality of the design, which confirms our company’s basic premise. Namely, that people with disabilities and of all backgrounds are capable of creating unique, high-quality products,” Jannie Jalloh says.
In addition to generating joy within Glad Design, the award has enabled the company to expand its customer base. They now have more significant and even better chances to compete on the established design scene, and likewise, it has encouraged other companies to collaborate with them. At the same time, winning the award has given Glad Design much more confidence to contact and collaborate with other major brands.
“It gives us the courage to think bigger. Even though we enjoy complimenting ourselves, it is far more valuable to know that other people are praising us for the quality of our work,” Jannie Jalloh says about winning the award at the Danish Design Award 2021.
The Employment Growth Award is an award for design-led solutions that have created jobs in Denmark. The purpose of this award is to demonstrate that design can create employment growth – either in new types of work or actual jobs or a combination of both. You can read more about the category here.
The Danish Design Award took place at the Fredericia Furniture’s showroom in Copenhagen on November 25, 2021. The finalists of the 2022 edition will be announced this spring.