News / 1.2.2021

The ocean fan and creative problem solver behind our look and feel

We have put a lot of thought into our visual communication. Get to know our Head of Design Sindre better and learn why this a focus area for us

Illustration of Commodore 64 desktop computer and monitor
The Commodore 64 – a path-changing device for Sindre.

As Head of Design at Grieg Connect, Sindre is responsible for our visual communication of products and services, as well as user experience and interaction design. “I use tools ranging from colour palettes, typefaces and imagery to animation and video to solve design problems. And visually convey our values and vision to everyone who interacts with us across all segments and platforms,” he says.

His immediate challenge is to effectively communicate the true personality, strengths and uniqueness of the brand, while in the longer term becoming deeply familiar with our customers and user needs.

Illustration of Sindre Dahl
Sindre Dahl, Head of Design at Grieg Connect.

Engaging customers

“Our objective is to be clear in communication and transparent in all interactions,” Sindre says. “The key is understanding customer behaviour and strengthening customer experience. A successful brand has to engage from the first moment. Getting there is an exciting process.”

Sindre says a particularly enjoyable recent project was creating portraits of all Grieg Connect’s employees in collaboration with Argentinian illustrator Pablo Lobato. “Right now, so many companies are becoming like faceless fortresses in the digital world, obscuring employees and telephone numbers behind e-mail forms and chat bots that are mostly less than optimal,” he says. “We decided to take a different approach. We want to remain present and accessible, which means putting customers’ needs before our own comfort, if you like. Populating our website with portraits is much more human… and honest.”

Sindre grew up in the wooded surroundings of Byskogen outside Kristiansund. Growing up he says the biggest influence on his life was his Dad, who went to sea as a machinist. “He’s a genuine jack-of-all-trades with a can-do attitude, and has always been an inspiration when it comes to resourcefulness,” Sindre says. “He taught me that most things are possible (within reason!) with a bit of research and practice.”

Growing up in the wooded surroundings of Byskogen, in the outskirts of Kristiansund.

Change of plan

As a kid, Sindre had planned to follow in his father’s footsteps as a seafarer, but that all changed in 1987. When his parents came home with a Commodore VIC-20 home computer for his brother. He was hooked immediately. “Watching the graphics and animation, and interacting with a story on the monitor was spell-binding,” he says. Later came a Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga, then a PC and a Mac. His future as a designer was cemented. 

Sindre moved to Oslo to study graphic design and remained in the capital for 10 years, where he cut his teeth working in a full-service design agency with a wide variety of clients. “But it started to feel more and more like a ‘hamster-wheel’ after a while and I missed friends and family back home,” he says. With an “unexplainable fascination with the ocean” he misses being away from it for too long. “The incredible nature and powerful weather typical of this area has a strong pull,” he adds.

His move back home also meant a move away from multiple clients. “Here at Grieg Connect I can focus wholeheartedly on one brand,” he says. “A designer’s task is to sit on the shoulders of users, so to speak, and share their perspective. In that sense I still have a healthy load of interesting clients and loads of fun challenges to tackle.”

New talent welcome

Sindre says that although the design team is slightly smaller in such a tech-heavy company, there’s no shortage of new knowledge and inspiration to be gained from his brainy colleagues. “But right now, we’re actually looking to expand, specifically our capacity and competence in interaction design. If that sounds exciting, please drop me a line (and a kickass portfolio)!”

Sindre says his current position fits his previous 10-year plan exactly, and although he hasn’t yet set a defined course for the next 10 years, he would like to get more involved in mentoring and inspiring new talent and building a rock-solid team of communicators. “I get a lot of pleasure out of motivating others and it’s very rewarding when the outcome is successful,” he says.

When it comes to life philosophy, Sindre says it’s important to remain curious and always ask questions. “That was sound advice from another resourceful individual – our teacher Paul van Brunschot at Westerdals School of Communication, who sadly passed away eight years ago. He shot out great quotes and constructive criticism like a machine-gun, but always with a good dose of humour. Most of all he had a keen sense of identifying problems and a real passion for solving them creatively. That’s something I’d like to think we share.”

An elemental inspiration in the Norwegian design community, Paul Pieter Maria van Brunschot (1962–2013). Institute leader (graphic design) at Westerdals School of Communication. Photo by Yann Charles Marcel Bougaran.

A nose for culture

When not in designer mode at work and before Covid-19, Sindre could be found swimming laps in the cold months and cycling or running during spring and summer. “It helps to combat/delay the hunchback desk posture,” he jokes. Messing around in the kitchen is inspiring when time allows and he otherwise enjoys concerts and other cultural events.

Experimenting making Bánh mì — a Vietnamese baguette with spicy, marinated pork and pickled vegetables.

Sindre’s perfect holiday is always in a city by the sea. “Waking up in a warm climate with no concrete plan is the best feeling. I don’t like having every day planned out in advance – for me that’s the opposite of recharging your batteries. On vacation I like every day to unfold like a spontaneous mini-adventure. Throw in some sightseeing, café stops, museums, art exhibitions and a concert and I’m happy,” he says.

Bas Rutten rules!

If Sindre could invite a stranger for dinner (it must be someone he knows of or admires, but has never met, and the guest will of course accept the invitation), who would it be and why? It’s a tough question for a man of eclectic tastes. “There are tons of brilliant and inspiring people who it’d be great to have a conversation with – Stephen Fry, Bruce Springsteen, Bjørk, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Sylvester Stallone to name a few. But if I had to pick one, it would have to be Bas Rutten,” he says. 

Bas Rutten, former UFC heavyweight champion.

Rutten is a Dutch-American actor, retired mixed martial artist, kickboxer and professional wrestler. “He was a UFC Heavyweight Champion and finished his career on a 22-fight unbeaten streak (21 wins, 1 draw). He is pure inspiration, with an unmatched work ethic, innovative contributions to modern martial arts, a strong strategic mind and tremendously funny,” says Sindre. “I think an evening with Rutten would yield results that are impossible to anticipate!” 

So, any readers who might know someone who knows someone who knows Bas Rutten, please fix it for Sindre in Kristiansund.