ginny branch stellinginterviewswhat's in your toolbox

What’s in Your Toolbox: Lotta Jansdotter

by Ginny

When I was a student at SCAD, I haunted a beloved local shop for new delights from one of my favorite textile designers, Lotta Anderson of Lotta Jansdotter. It began with an obsession for her sticky notes and continued with collecting every tea towel and sewing kit I could get my enthusiastic hands on. I am so thrilled to see her brand continuing to flourish and expanding to new arenas of design. Lotta Jansdotter washi tape? Sign me up. To be interviewing her now is an honor, and it lets me high-five my inner, bright-eyed art-student self. Her images are so joyful, aren’t they? Continue reading for a delightful visual smorgasbord of creativity.

1. Design*Sponge: What is in your toolbox?

Lotta Anderson: My tool box is rather simple: pen (my favorite pen is a Pentel Sign Pen in black), paper, rubber cement and a pair of scissors.

I create my print designs, motifs and patterns by hand: I sketch and draw in my custom-made sketch books or on plain copy paper. I cut out shapes and motifs out of black construction paper. I do this for a while, and I might find something I want to develop further. Then I will play with scale and layout by using my copy machine. Then I am back to cutting and pasting again. A very hands-on process! I like the tactile process of how I create my designs.

2. Design*Sponge: Fill in the blank, “When I am in my studio, I feel _____________.”

Lotta Anderson: When I am in my studio I feel exhilarated, enthusiastic, chaotic, unorganized, happy and crazy!

Read the full post after the jump!

3. Design*Sponge: What is on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now?

Lotta Anderson: I am very interested in live performances at the moment: the movie PINA was amazing and a concert with Antony and The Johnsons.

I am drawn to and inspired by people with real strong, personal and vibrant personalities and visions.

Other than that, I love poring over my notebooks filled with magazine clippings I have saved over the years. I love love those notebooks!!!

I don’t like reading blogs very much, and sadly enough, there are not many great inspiring and unique magazines in America right now. I think Kinfolk is nice, and some Japanese magazines are rather super!

4. Design*Sponge: How do you keep yourself organized? Time management is often one of the biggest obstacles for creative minds. Do you have an agenda book, and do you make to-do lists?

Lotta Anderson: I create many many lists, too many. I lose them and start over. I start lists on papers, and in my notebooks . . . and it does not do much good actually. I sort and organize things only to quickly mess it all up again. I am not a good “maintainer.” I am bad at maintaining the order I just created. I am black or white: very organized or very messy — no in between. I am starting to accept this fact more and more, and I try to embrace it; no point in getting all frustrated about myself in regards to it. Some sort of chaos . . . this is how I roll.

5. Design*Sponge: If you could have one superhero (or magical) power, what would it be and why?

Lotta Anderson: I wish I could fly, that would be so freakin’ awesome! Beyond exciting.

6. Design*Sponge: What is the best advice you have ever received, and what is the one piece of advice you would offer to a young artist/designer?

Lotta Anderson:

Received: “Follow your heart. Do what you love to do.”

Advice to offer: Just start doing things, try them out. You might make mistakes and that is OK. The more things you do, the more you will find and learn what you are good/bad at; what works and what you want to spend your time doing. If you are too afraid of even trying, then nothing will happen. And most things pass. Everything changes. You can always renew/start over and move on. You do not have to have all the answers at once . . . baby steps.

7. Design*Sponge: How do you combat creative blocks?

Lotta Anderson: I never get to that state. I have a different problem: It’s hard to find the time to create. There is so much else to attend to and do . . . or am I simply procrastinating?

Usually the process will get me going. I might not have a solid or firm idea of what to do in the beginning, but then I start drawing or cutting and after a while (when I am “warmed up”), I get going and feel the inspiration come along. So to answer your question: the creative process itself unblocks me.

8. Design*Sponge: Where do you like to shop for inspiration?

Lotta Anderson: I like going to thrift stores a lot, yard sales, and visiting Ikea. I shop much more when I travel, and then I try to find independent shops as well as the grocery stores, office supply stores, and markets.

Image above: Lotta’s studio shop called Work + Shop. Stop by and visit!

9. Design*Sponge: If you could peek inside the studio/toolbox of any designer/artist/craftsperson, whose would it be and why?

Lotta Anderson: Maira Kalman. She is such a joyful, witty person, and she feels so free in her work. I would love to watch Picasso paint his ceramics, or watch Matisse cut his papers. I guess I am much more interested in watching the process than actually seeing their tools.

10. Design*Sponge: If you could make a master mix-tape of music that is inspiring you at the moment, what would it include?

Lotta Anderson: I love KCRW out of Santa Monica. Also I stream “One Summer ” and David Byrne Radio. I listen to Bart Davenport, Nina Simone, Fleetwood Mac, The Purple Man, Rufus Wainwright, Antony and many more!

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  • Love her! When I was in San Francisco on my honeymoon a few years ago I bought a pack of her notecards in a shop there and sent them out for wedding thank-yous. I have been such a huge fan of her work ever since. :)

  • I love Lotta’s workspace! This is proof that a workspace filled with creative tools and materials can still be airy and organized (must show this to my hubby who thinks otherwise, ha!) Thanks for sharing.

  • My favorite workshop! Love the space, the lighting, the airiness, the simplicity. And so inspiring. I especially like the her advice about just trying things and everything changes… Thanks for sharing!

  • Love the article! The copywriter in me is restless though: is her name Lotta Anderson or Lotta Jansdotter? :)

    • courtney and JF

      anderson is her last name, jansdotter is the company name. translated, “dotter” means daughter and lotta’s dad’s name is jan.


  • The poster is a letter from Marcel Proust to Princesse de Clermont-Tonnerre, and it reads like this:

    “My dear Madame, I just noticed that I forgot my cane at your house yesterday; please be good enough to give it to the bearer of this letter. P.S. Kindly pardon me for disturbing you; I just found my cane.”

    The poster is the hand writing of Illustrator Maira Kalman who keeps the quote in her work space as well.

    Whew, and there you have it!

  • I love the loose, yet purposeful arrangements she uses. Fantastic and inspiring interview.

  • That note is hilarious! But it kinda goes along with how she rolls….good reminder that we needn’t take ourselves so seriously.

  • I was introduced to Lotta Jansdotter through her recently released fabric collection that I love! So nice to see her featured here AND to find out that she makes the prettiest Washi tape I’ve ever seen. Thanks!!

  • I love, love, love her advice to new/young designers -of which I am neither! However, I am trying to move forward doing things I am interested in -and we will see where that goes. She has encouraged me without even knowing it! Thanks so much!

  • I think an artist’s studio speaks volumes not just about one’s personality, but also about the artist’s work! I write about famous artist’s studios in my blog, it’s an amazing insight into interior design, organization, and art forms!


  • Amazing interview. Thank you! Her advice and amazing attitude is perfect inspiration for this young designer!! <3

  • Ginny B. what a treat for you. I adore Lotta’s style, products, vision, etc. etc. so much so that I had share them with my customers in Savannah all those years ago. Such a great talent!

  • Lover her! Happi to read about her again on Designspongeonline! Lotta will see you at
    your workshop in the near future.

  • Oh, she’s one of my favorite crafters/designers of all time! I adore her stationery sets and all her books. It’s great to see her on Design Sponge!

  • Thank you for this interview! I love Lotta´s attitude to her work and her creativity! She is such an inspiration herself!

  • I was so excited when I saw this interview…I currently have 3 books on her and I use them all the time for inspiration! This is such a great post!!!

  • She’s so inspiring. I would love to see a few pages of her notebooks. I have hundreds of magazine clippings but have no idea how to organize/preserve them in a useful way…so they sit in piles that I rarely look at. I can only imagine how creatively her’s are done.

  • “what is the one piece of advice you would offer to a young artist/designer?” – why is the question age-specific? Can’t designers of all ages benefit from each others’ advice? Not every new and emerging designer is ‘young’.

    • Emily

      Yes, of course they can. Having the word “young” in the question shouldn’t effect an older designer’s ability to benefit from that information at all.

      But I think older (even first time) designers benefit from life experience and other jobs younger people haven’t had yet- which is the reason we thought about them for this question.

      We also have a free weekly business advice column if you want more “ageless” advice.


  • I totally understand what Lotta means when she talks about organization. I’m the same way. I’ll make a to do list and then start a new one before I finish the old one. I’m also either “very organized or very messy”; without a very specific place to put stuff, it just ends up everywhere! I’m working on it, though.

  • WOW…. how fun is Lotta’s designs …. thanks for the insight to this refreshing designer!

  • Oh, how I love Lotta so. Her book is such an inspiration. Great interview – she is one of my favs (in case you can’t tell!)

  • Regarding the lack of inspiring magazines in the US – the relentlessly awesome Canadian publication Uppercase will now be available through Anthropologie. It’s I’ve been hooked since issue 3, and most of the creative types I’ve shown it to have ended up hooked too. It’s from the publishers of the Camilla Engman and Dottie Angel books. I highly recommend checking it out: http://www.uppercasegallery.ca/

  • I live in Florida for 6 months of the year but when I return to Long Island, NY, the FIRST place I must stop in on is Lotta Jandotter’s shop. Always friendly, great music, good new designs and lots to purchase. I love this shop. So much better than ‘big box’ stores. Here you can find originality and fun and stuff that absolutely couldn’t live without!

  • I’m new to Lotta’s work, it’s just lovely. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • @AUBRY: It looks to me like Maira Kalman’s handwriting, the artist Lotta mentions in question #9. It might be a blown-up print of one of her musings — if you’re not familiar with her you should definitely check her out. She and her late husband are in my top pantheon of inspiration.

  • I love her frank acceptance of her strengths and weaknesses- she doesn’t struggle with creative blocks, but can’t keep a straight schedule- and *both* of those characteristics are part of her…. That is something you learn, as well, when you move from being a designer in your 20’s to being one later in life.
    And, Bart Davenport is great!

  • Always found Lotta’s art delightful, and your photos and interview so make me want to have her as my new best friend! Can’t wait to visit the shop in person and come away with more of her happy colors and designs. Thanks***

  • THANK-YOU for this posting! I often walk by her former place and have been curious of her whereabouts and what she is doing. Now I know. So happy to see her and what a fabulous studio she has. Kinokuniua bookshop still has a mook of her things though. Pleased to see that she’s OK. Better than Big Box is right :) much better :)

  • Gorgeous space….I have it on my to do list to keep my environment as organised and energized as Lotta’s seems, maybe one day!

  • Love Lotta and her approach to the creative process. Definitely resonates with me. She is inspiring without even trying. Thank you design*sponge for showcasing yet another brilliant and enthusiastic artist!

  • Yey. It is neat to hear that the creative process itself gets her going. I also liked that she calls it “warming up.” It seems like a neat approach to getting started for the day.

  • My heart skipped a beat when I saw your interview and studio visit with Lotta. I love her work and her approach to the creative life. Wish there had been more!! Thanks.

  • I looooove this studio! I think you can tell a lot about a person through their work space. All the white really makes her work stand out, too. So beautiful.

  • Oh dear, what fun she is! I’m very inspired by those rows of books, and the merry jumble of things in her wonderful studio~

    Thank you, I never knew about her until this article. :o)


  • I love Lotta! Have been charmed by her colorful designs and free spirit since I saw visited her former studio in Carrol Gardens. Her book on studio spaces is wonderful too!

  • TACK !
    I am so delighted to read all of these posts..THANK YOU ever so much!
    Makes me very happy.

    The beautiful photos for this feature was taken by my very talented and dear friend,
    the photographer Jenny Hallengren. http://jennyhallengren.se/

    My studio and shop “Work+Shop” is open to all of you to visit:
    131 8th Street . Brooklyn NY 11215 @ 2nd and 3rd Ave. p:718 755 9945

    tuesday-friday 12 pm- 6pm
    saturdays 11 am- 4 pm

    I hope to see you soon.
    Vi ses, Lotta

  • I looove this. Lotta is one of my favorite designers…I started using her fabrics in my handmade shop a few months ago & they just make the process a little cheerier! So happy to hear a little behind the scenes about her. :)

  • I LOVE LOTTA! I have been following Lottas work for around 5 years now and she is one of my favourite textile designers! I hope one day to visit her in her New York studio….I am always inspired by her freshness of colours and clean designs!! Annie

  • “I love poring over my notebooks filled with magazine clippings I have saved over the years. I love love those notebooks!!!”

    That thrills me to no end! That is so me :)

  • I had not heard of Lotta before, but just seeing these snippets of her designs and hearing her personality in this interview makes me very interested to see more! I love that she is able to use her environment around her to create and doesn’t need to push herself to find motivation; I feel like that truly shows she is an artist at heart. And her advice to others is so spot on- you can’t find what it you if you don’t try a lot of things first! Does she just make paper crafts and bags, or is she starting to go into clothing design as well? I think it would at least be great if she started designing textiles because her prints are just darling!

  • Love the interview, love the workspace and have fallen in love with the chair she has at the sewing desk!! Does anyone have any idea what its called, who designed it or where I can get my hands on one?

  • Hi there! I really love the art framed behind the paint brushes. Looks like handwriting on fabric? Just wondering who the artisit is behind this piece or did she make it?
    Thanks, Brooke