Olle Eksell

Olle Eksell was a legendary designer and illustrator, best known for the iconic 'Eyes of Cacao' poster image which he originally created for the Mazetti chocolate company. Born Carl Olov (Olle) Lennart in 1918 in the Ål, Kopparberg Community, Sweden, Olle was interested in art and illustration from an early age. He studied Illustration & Graphic Art at The School of Book and Advertising Art in Stockholm under Professor Hugo Steiner-Prag from 1939 to 1941.

After graduating, Olle went on to work at the Ervaco advertising agency and it was there that he met Ruthel Günzberger the young fashion designer who would become his wife and lifelong companion. The couple married on 4th July, 1946 and soon set sail for the USA to continue their respective studies at the acclaimed Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. WWII had just ended, international travel routes had just re-opened, so these were exciting times for Olle Eksell and his young wife.

While studying in Los Angeles, the young Swede came into contact with some of the era's most exciting contemporary designers including Paul Rand, Lester Bell and Alvig Lustig. Olle and Paul Rand became firm friends and throughout their long and illustrious lives, the pair often visited each other to discuss new ideas and innovative developments in contemporary art and design.

Upon completion of his studies in the US, Olle Eksell returned to Sweden with Ruthel and they moved into an apartment in Gärdet, Stockholm where they remained for over 40 years. Olle created his famous Eyes of Cacao as part of the first Swedish design programmes for Mazetti and Nessim while working from his 5m square home studio in 1956. Today, the Mazetti factory in Stockholm has been fully restored as a nightclub and cafe and the eyes logo can be seen in poster form and as a feature of the building's wonderful iron gates.

Olle Eksell was a visionary and he was one of the first to consider the impact of poster or image in marketing terms. His 1964 book Design = Ekonomi discusses the subject and would lead him to make the remark 'Good design is not just aesthetic – it is also good economy. Good design is not just cool – it is bloody serious!' Olle Eksell continued to produce work of the highest calibre and Eyes of Cacao looks as fresh and exciting now as it did 60 years ago.

Olle participated in a host of international exhibitions in venues are important as The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Louvre in Paris, and the Biennale in Venice. Olle was a valued member of the world jury of typography at the International Centre for Graphic Arts in New York was nominated for the advertising sector's prestigious Platinum Academy in Sweden in 1985. Olle Eksell's career remains unparalleled in the country's advertising history and in 2001 the Swedish Government awarded him the title of Honorary Professor for his outstanding contribution. Olle Eksell continued to work until his death in 2007.

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