In short, a poor idea or a weak concept can never be saved and turned into a success using extraordinary design and vice versa.

Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

Max Ahlborn, Producer and co founder of ACNE Digital. I started my career in 1999 at boo.com. As some may

already know, that thing didn’t last very long but I’m very glad to have been part of the adventure.

After boo I managed to sneak my way into the recently started B-Reel. Back then we were only about five people and it was the perfect place to pick up new skills. After having tried out doing live webcasts and design (I went to Forsberg’s school of design for a while) I ended up working mostly with back-end programming.

I stayed at B-Reel for about six years out of which I spent the last three of them working only part time while studying political science, economics and Arabic at the University here in Stockholm.

In December 2006 I was given the opportunity to be a part of founding the Digital department of the ACNE collective, working as a producer. I simply could not resist going back to working with the Internet together with such creative talent, and it’s where you’ll currently find me.

When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?

Well here’s a cliche for you: “You’re never as good as your last game”. And it’s true.

I think the best way for any company to prosper and reach new clients is to over deliver - time and time again. That will eventually make the clients come to you in a way that no amount of PowerPoint slides ever will.

What do you do for inspiration?

Thai boxing. (And staying up late watching quality TV. I just finished last season of “the Wire” and I’m… exhausted.)

Please list 5 of your favorite sites.

Apart from the FWA? Hmm…






What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

I’ve done nothing that could possibly be called an “achievement” in comparison to what so many people born in less stable and economically challenged parts of the world achieve every day.

What software could you not live without?

I probably wouldn’t die but I’d sure miss Microsoft Windows if it was taken away from me.

What projects do you have in the pipeline?

We’ve recently teamed up with RSA in the US (www.rsafilms.com, www.acnersa.com) and I’m certain a lot of interesting projects will come out of that collaboration in the near future.

In fact, one is already in the making and hopefully the end result will be featured here on the FWA in a few months…

Who do you rate as being the top design company?

Without being too partial I’d have to say that the design department of ACNE Creative is on top of my list. Their way of creating commercial design (whether it’s a magazine, a perfume bottle or a poster) that is always bordering on art is just amazingly impressive.

Also I’m really looking forward to the seeing some of the stuff I know they’re working on right now reach a broad audience. And it will.

What effect on traffic do your new designs have?

Obviously design plays an important role in any successful web project but I do believe that trying to isolate this, or any other, piece of the puzzle is the wrong way to go about when analyzing the effects of a project.

Instead I try and approach my work more holistically as I’m certain that all aspects of a web production must fit together and be carried out in the best possible way if the end result is to meet and exceed expectations.

In short, a poor idea or a weak concept can never be saved and turned into a success using extraordinary design and vice versa.

Nor is it possible to get the full potential out of a web site that is cutting edge from a purely technical stand point without equally fantastic design. And so on.

What area of web design lacks the most?

In the last year I’ve had the privilege to work quite a lot with the Swedish travel agency Ving who are very much in the forefront and have the guts to create groundbreaking stuff on the web.

In this work however I’ve visited tons of other traveling agencies websites for research - and quite frankly, most of them stink. I mean come on, give us something more then retouched images of beaches. We all know they’re full of thongs (where there shouldn’t be thongs) and screaming kids anyway.

What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?

My very first website was for the psychology institution of my high school back in 1997. I got a totally undeserved A in psychology(!) for using frames, <blink> tags and black and white photographs of Freud.

Do you think Flash is here to stay?

Interactive and rich web experiences are. The technology that lies behind them is less relevant.

What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?

Well I did, so yes. But I do think that the fact that individuals without “proper” education can find a way to get into our business (in the broadest sense of the word possible) has both pros and cons.

On the up side it creates opportunities for an enormous amount of talented people that make up for what they lack in career thinking and credits from high status educational institutions with creativity and ambition.

At the same time these less formal recruiting policies inevitably opens up opportunities for not-at-all-very-talented people with the right connections to a larger extent in our line of work than in many others.

What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?

A beer. “Berns – now serving half-size glasses for the same ridiculous prize!”

What type of overcoat do you wear when working, basically are you a labels man?

Well... an ACNE Jeans one of course. What do you want me to say?

And yeah, I guess that makes somewhat a labels man.

Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

Stay shizzle.


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