How Larssen & Amaral gets things done

Larssen & Amaral is a Norwegian-American design consultancy.

In the last 6 months alone, Larssen & Amaral have won a number of awards from Gullsild, Visulet, the European Design Awards, and ADC. Looking through Larssen & Amaral’s portfolio of work, it’s not hard to see why the awards keep rolling in. At Dropmark HQ we are obsessed with their branding campaign for !Konferansen and the visual identity for MM Café & Bar.

We chatted with Cecilie Larssen Lønning, Founder & Creative Director of Larssen & Amaral, about inspiration, the team’s process, and how they use Dropmark to get things done.

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Can you tell me a little bit about Larssen & Amaral and how you got started?

We’re a strategic design agency located on the west coast of Norway. We develop visual identity systems, digital communication, and experiences for businesses, brands, and products. I co-founded the agency together with my American partner. We met in Bergen and after five years decided to take the leap and start our own business together.

We’re certainly looked at as a bit of an underdog (especially in Norway.) While we’re a small studio, located in a small city on the west coast, we’ve still managed to land clients like the British Museum and the Norwegian Maritime Authority, as well as other national and international clients in our first two years of running the agency.

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How does design fit into Larssen & Amaral’s culture?

Design lies at the heart of everything we do. Whether we’re working on a purely aesthetic solution, or a complex process or customer experience, design always allows us to find new ideas and solutions for our clients.

Design creates a feeling, but also serves as a great (and often underrated) tool for solving the diverse challenges that life throws at us. It creates a holistic approach to branding, which ensures our client’s businesses, services and products are well designed—from how they look and feel in the real and digital world, down to how they communicate and speak to their customers.

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You describe approaching design with a global perspective partnered with Scandinavian principles, how does being based on the west coast of Norway impact your work?

Our studio is a diverse group of designers. Even though we’re based in Norway, we’ve all lived, worked and studied across the globe, from Washington, DC, to Paris and Australia. So our studio has definitely acquired a global perspective in a literal sense—where we pick up cultural and global influences in the way we design.

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In a more figurative way, being based in Norway (which can also be considered an underdog in a global sense), we work hard together with our clients to show that great ideas, products, and design can come from anywhere in the world. While Scandinavian design has been a global export for decades, there’s a lot of new and exciting things happening in various Norwegian design disciplines that have really started to put us on the map as a country. It’s exciting to be part of that wave and momentum.

What role do you think storytelling has in design?

I think design IS storytelling. You see that clients and other traditionally “non-designers” have finally started to see the value in design as a powerful tool for communicating. Visual storytelling these days allows us to simplify complex thought and information into simple and relatable ideas. Whether through illustration and infographics, or photography, animation and film, design drives the story.

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What does your creative process look like?

We’re a collaborative studio, and we’ve all got an individual aesthetic, but we always try to make sure our design work doesn’t just look nice, but also serves a purpose. You could draw a comparison to Scandinavian furniture and architecture—clean and minimal, but always functional. A lot of research and strategy allows us to design with purpose in mind. That’s always great because with a strong concept and clear message, the form of each project can really take it’s own path. From loud and crazy, to clean and subtle.

Over the years we’ve worked at different agencies and with many different clients. But since we’ve started Larssen & Amaral, we see that we’re constantly trying to improve and innovate our creative process and workflows—working quicker and smarter, not harder.

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How does Dropmark fit into your workflow?

Dropmark is part of every project we do. Whether gathering visual inspiration for internal brainstorms, or as a tool to moodboard ideas quickly to clients, it allows us to work collaboratively across the whole studio. We also love that we can organise and structure different ideas into stacks within the same collection.

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The ability to download whole collections at the click of a button is key. This comes in handy when sketching on a concept level—where we’ve gathered massive amounts of placeholder photography or illustration than we need to use in design mock-ups for client presentations.

A lot of things can get lost in bookmark folders, or on Pinterest boards. But we feel Dropmark is just easier to manage and organise, especially as a team. We have a lot of project in Dropmark, so the recent project and alphabetical list feature is essential.

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What’s the most interesting thing you Dropmarked lately?

We’re always thinking about how identities can live and interact on digital surfaces. We collect smart, fun, quirky, and sometimes straight-up weird animations in a shared collection for future inspiration. A lot of mesmerising loops!

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See more of Larssen & Amaral’s work at larssenamaral.no & follow them on Facebook, and Instagram.

Now Supporting HEIF Images

Move out of the way JPEGs and say hello to HEIF.

We’ve been using JPEGs for over 25 years, and they’re due for retirement. In that time we’ve gone from VHS to DVDs, from Blue Ray (does anyone still buy those?) to streaming just about anything you’d want.

HEIF is a photo format that Apple debuted to replace JPEG last year. HEIF stands for High-Efficiency Image Format and has the extension ‘.heic’ at the end of your images. HEIF isn’t the most exciting acronym, and is bound to confound the internet with the pronunciation “heef”.

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Although first introduced by Apple with iOS 11 and OS High Sierra, HEIF isn’t an Apple-owned format. In fact, HEIF images are available on Android now too.

You can now upload .heic files to Dropmark on your browser, using Dropmark for Mac, and with our iOS app.

Smaller, better, faster, efficient-er

Storage space is vital, and HEIF files take up 50% less space than JPEGs. That means that your phone can store twice as many photos, and because of the way they are compressed the images will look even better than before. Now you can have twice as many pictures of your dog on your phone. If you say that you don’t want more photos in your pocket of your pets, or kids, I don’t believe you.

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At the moment HIEF images are being transformed into JPEGs when shared via Airdrop, messages, or emails. This is happening because - for the moment at least - JPEGs are more compatible with other devices. If you want to use HEIF images, you currently have to plug your phone in with a USB and ensure you’re transferring the original files.

Now you can upload HEIF files directly to Dropmark using our iOS app and save yourself the hassle of digging out your USB cable.

Dropmark now accepts .heic files, and crucially will display a JPEG preview for any devices that don’t currently support HEIF.

Metadata is powerful

Any photograph that you upload to Dropmark includes embedded metadata embedded, and HEIF files are no different.

To view metadata associated with your photographs go into the item view and click the information icon in the toolbar at the top. If you scroll down the sidebar, you’ll see all sorts of metadata received from the photo’s EXIF (Exchangeable Image File). This metadata includes the date the image was captured, the device it was taken on, and photography information like exposure and aperture.


Here you can also see the geolocation tags that are associated with the image, displayed here on Google Maps. This image of our office dog Cooper was taken at Dropmark HQ, and you can see the exact latitude and longitude that the picture was taken at.

Feeling like your phone is creeping on you? You can turn off geotagging for photos on your iPhone or iPad at any time.

Save tutorials to Dropmark & rule the world

On Dropmark you can create a video library for work or leisure. We’ve explored how to make a creative database for work, so today we’re showing you how creating a collection of video tutorials can help you master your newest hobby.

There are a wealth of video tutorials online showing you how to hang curtains or how to make a burger like Gordon Ramsay. Saving useful tutorials in one place can help you achieve long-term goals like mastering the guitar, or improving your prosthetic make-up game.

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Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google? In fact, YouTube is more significant than Bing, Yahoo, AOL, and Ask combined. YouTube is full of in-depth tutorials, from real people.

They say an image is worth a thousand words; I’d argue that a video is worth ten thousand. Video tutorials can demonstrate practical skills in an intuitive way that pictures alone can’t. There’s got to be a reason why this channel of IKEA furniture assembly videos has so many views (although, the fact he calls himself ‘IKEA Hunk’ might have something to go with it).

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I am obsessed with embroidery. When I was learning how to embroider, there was a pretty steep learning curve, like learning any new skill. There was so much that I didn’t understand. Did I need a hoop? What was a stabilizer? Did I even need it? What kind of thread should I use? When I discovered this embroidery video, everything became clearer. The video was able to show me in realtime how to set my hoop up and demonstrated the seven basic embroidery stitches. Being able to watch someone tackle real projects with their hands made much more sense than reading blog posts alone.

There are over 100 different embroidery stitches. Now, whenever I’m unfamiliar with a stitch, I take to the YouTube to discover how to replicate it. Saving these videos to Dropmark means I can reference these videos for as long as I need to.

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I created this video library just for me, but it’s proving helpful for other newbies too. I often share the work I’m making on Instagram, and love chatting with other embroidery enthusiasts. Sometimes, I get questions from other newbies who want to learn, and I’ve started sharing my video collection with them. See more about sharing your Dropmark collections.

YouTube is teeming with tutorials: you can learn how to tile, to code, or knit. You could even use a video library as a way of sending tutorials or exercises to your students. See more about how to use Dropmark with your students.

Do you have a tutorial library on Dropmark? Let us know on Twitter and Instagram.

How Sarah Hawkless gets things done

Sarah Hawkless has a flower farm in New Zealand and runs her own floristry business EMERDEN.

Sarah grows a dreamy meadow of flowers and handcrafts unique wild bouquets. She is obsessed with finding uncommon blooms to grow and is always trialing new varieties to add to her ever-growing collection. Sarah is the ultimate plant lady; we are obsessed with EMERDEN’s Instagram which showcases Sarah’s florals.

We chatted with Sarah about inspiration, feeling fear and still following the dream, and how she uses Dropmark to get things done.

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Can you tell me about EMERDEN and how you got to where you are now?

EMERDEN is a small flower farm + florist in Stratford, Taranaki in New Zealand. Like many other burgeoning small flower farmers throughout the country, and around the globe, is the exact opposite of the traditional flower growers which produce year-round in controlled greenhouse environments. I grow a wide range of seasonal flowers, mostly various annuals, with a few bulbs & tubers (like anemone, ranunculus, dahlia, etc.), and I just added a small garden rose patch this season.

I never grew up gardening so starting EMERDEN two years ago was not something I would have predicted. But it marries up so much of what I love and suits me almost perfectly. I originally studied graphic design but decided not to pursue it after graduating. I was lost for years not knowing what I wanted to do. In the meantime, I bought an old villa to renovate, where I quickly became obsessed with my gardens. I started with mostly vegetables, growing colorful, weird and wonderful things, and then I slowly began adding flowers in every spare space.

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It was around this time that I first thought of growing commercially, and starting leaning towards flowers. Two years ago, I lost my job again when my bosses couldn’t afford to keep me on, so I ended up moving back to hometown in Taumarunui for a job & lived with my grandparents for a year. To make the most of being back I hijacked a paddock off my parent’s farm to keep growing and learning more about flowers, as I hadn’t seen most them in person before then.

Just over a year ago I sold my villa and moved back to Stratford so I could set up EMERDEN full-time. I hijacked a different paddock off my parents and am going through another villa renovation. This coming season will be my second season here in Stratford. Most of the day to day farming and selling is just me, but I’m fortunate and grateful that my parents and grandparents have been so very supportive & helpful with the big jobs.

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Were you always attracted to nature and flowers?

Probably, but I’ve only really been aware of it in the last few years. I grew up on a farm in Taumarunui, so I’ve always been surrounded by wide open rural spaces and loved the rugged hills and valleys of the area.

Long before I fell in love with flowers, my life goal was - and still is - to buy land and plant a woodland forest that I can live to enjoy it and see it mature. I fell in love with photographing flowers, before falling for the flowers themselves. Looking back at my old photos most of them were of flowers, the signs were there I didn’t notice it till years later.

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What inspires you?

Color. I think I’ve always been obsessed with finding the perfect colors and shades to translate meaning & feeling. I love doing that with flowers as their colors are so complex, ever-changing, with such a depth to them.

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How does being in Taranaki impact you?

I’ve only lived here for four of the last five years, and it has without a doubt shaped the path I’ve taken. For years I was stuck working in low paying menial jobs I really didn’t like. That was one of the key reasons why I was driven to start EMERDEN and try to create my own way.

It does seem that Taranaki, notably New Plymouth, is an exciting and inspiring place to be at the moment. There’s a local food movement happening, and lots of high-quality growers and producers have popped up recently.

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I second guess nearly every decision, so much has to be decided so many months before anything blooms and you know if it was a success or not. But the most significant decision lately that still scares me a lot is deciding to continue, follow the demand and grow more.

Last season was a bit of nightmare. I was epically late setting up, completely missed Spring, and then it was Christmas. I had about three weeks where things went really well in January; then two ex-cyclones howled through two weeks apart in February - which is peak season. That combined with disease and insect pressure, and lack of succession plantings my season was virtually over before it started.

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After all of that, I lost the ‘dream’ and was so close to quitting. Not knowing what else to do, I kept on going and slowly over Autumn I’ve felt the ‘dream’ return. My dream is to focus more on selling bouquets directly to customers, but that side of the business is going to take a lot longer to set up than I imagined.

Instead, there has been a massive demand by local florists, and without approaching anyone, I’ve ended up selling to them. Deciding to follow that demand scares me as I’ll have to grow on a much larger scale than if I was just growing for my own use. Also, as much as I love flowers, I’m not necessarily madly in love with farming on that scale. I am fairly sure I’ll have to hire help to manage it all when it’s peak season, which is all very daunting and scary. But scared and all, I’ve decided to follow the demand, give it a go and see where it goes.

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What does your creative process look like?

In the last few years I’ve discovered I’m not nearly as logical as I thought I was, I hate feeling boxed in by recipes or rules, I love to make it up as I go, fudge the recipe a bit and trust my intuition. That’s part of why I love working with flowers; there are no rules, it’s complete creative freedom.

I love surveying the day’s harvest and let myself be inspired by what’s available at that moment. To have those moments of intuitive inspiration, a lot of planning goes into deciding what, how much and when to grow everything. I know what colors and textures I’m drawn to. I’m a sucker for anything remotely peach, apricot, and salmon. I always plant a variety of those colors, so there are interesting combinations to be discovered in those palettes. I do a lot of planning and laying the groundwork months in advance so I can ignore the plan and make it up in the moment.

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How does Dropmark fit into your workflow?

I use Dropmark mostly to help plan what to grow and what order - primarily bulbs, tulips, dahlias, and roses. There are so many varieties available; it’s invaluable to pull together images of everything I’m thinking of ordering. I then rearrange, tag & stack my favorites, dwindling down the very long wishlists to something I have actually space for, and has the right balance of colors & forms.

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I want to focus a bit more on wedding florals next season, so I’ve also started putting together some ideas, colors, and flowers for what could be blooming at the same time. This helps me make sure that I’m not leaving any obvious gaps in my plantings for potential future photoshoots.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve Dropmarked recently?

At the moment it’s all about dahlia orders, so I’ve been Dropmarking lots of glorious dahlias as I add to my orders.

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See more of about Emerden at emerden.com & follow on Instagram and Facebook.

How to use Dropmark as an archive

Transform archiving from a time-consuming task to something you can do on the fly. Create an archive of design inspiration, articles, or media clippings with Dropmark.

We recently turned seven, and we’re going to be around for a long time to come. When you add something to Dropmark, you can feel safe knowing that you can access your files whenever or wherever you need. You can upload directly to Dropmark, or save web pages, videos, and images online.

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When it comes to bookmarked websites, so long as the website you link to is live, it’ll be viewable through Dropmark. But it’s not unusual for a blog you love to wind down, or for an article to get lost, or for a killer design to become flabby. What if you want to create an archive that isn’t reliant on anyone else’s website? That’s where the Dropmark browser extension comes in.

Our browser extension allows you to take a screenshot of a whole website, from top to bottom. That way, no matter what happens, your screenshot will stay safely in your collection.


Screenshots help you save anything you might want to reference in the future. Also, screenshots you take with our browser extension always retain their source, so you can always click through to explore new updates.

We use webpage screenshots to collect design inspiration, especially for web design. We love Lynn Fisher’s website. Her design completely changes depending on your screen size. Explore the different designs by changing the size of your browser window. If you were to screenshot Lynn’s site you could get more than 20 different screenshots!


Using our browser extension, you can also save individual images from web pages. Just like with screenshots, saved images will live in your collection forever. No matter what happens, you can still reference a fantastic bit of street art that was painted over, or continue to lust over last season’s shoes.

One of my favorite things about the ‘image grab’ option on Dropmark is that it makes saving inspiration from Instagram on my desktop super easy. I click on the post I want to add to my collection and drag it to the Dropmark logo that appears. Not everyone loves drag and drop, especially if you who spend a lot of time on Trello. You can always turn this function off in your browser extensions settings and click on the Dropmark icon in your toolbar instead.


We believe that your collections should be portable. After all, what good is an archive if no one can access it? You can export any of your collections using our export tool to create an HTML file, or download a zip file from your collection’s settings in the ‘advanced’ tab. We’re not locking you into using Dropmark for life, but we’re confident that you’ll love it.


How do you use Dropmark as an archive? Let us know on Twitter and Instagram.

Manage Your Home Renovation Using Dropmark

There are so many options when it comes to home renovation. Penny tiles, white subway tiles, marble hexagon tiles, mosaic tiles, or hand-painted tiles. And that’s just tiles.

If you’re anything like me, HGTV has a lot to answer for in your home. I am obsessed with shows like Fixer Upper and Good Bones, with their designs and can-do attitude. These shows give me illusions of grandeur, despite having never knocked through a wall or built a deck.


There is inspiration everywhere online. Using our browser extension, you can save images or blog posts online without breaking your stride. If you need more color in your life head to Old Brand New to see how color and vintage finds can create a design oasis. My favorite design blog is Design*Sponge, I particularly love their home tours featuring real homes. These features feel aspirational, but still achievable by mere mortals like myself.

Another of my favorite resources is Farrow & Ball, who make beautiful paints and wallpaper. Farrow & Ball’s site explores many different ways you can use color. Their explanations on how to create the illusion of more space and how color is affected by the direction of natural light are illuminating. Established in 1930, Farrow & Ball have a wealth of knowledge to share. If you’re considering a neutral palette, the way they identify different neutral tones will save you a lot of headaches.

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If you use our iOS app, you have all your collections in your pocket. Our app can make sure you don’t find yourself wandering around Home Depot like a lost child. If you need to compare prices or colors, you can whip out your phone and snag a deal.

Renovation gets more ordered if you use Stacks, which are available to Pro or Team users. Stacks are like sub-folders within your Dropmark collection. You can have different stacks for different topics i.e., one for your guest room, another stack for the downstairs bathroom, or the kitchen. Stacks help you keep things ordered, but still centralized.

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When you save inspiration to Dropmark, you can start to see connections that you didn’t even realize were there. I when I redid our living room last year I saved a variety of furniture in a particular collection, which helped me distill the vibe I wanted to go for. By seeing everything on the screen at once, I noticed a color story that I was able to refine and keep in mind.

I also found that being able to view similar items side by side helped me to compare them and then decide on which things were worth splurging on, and where I could save money.


Not a DIY’er? Add your interior designer or even your contractor to your renovation collection. Collaborating on Dropmark cuts long email chains and you can share your inspiration instantly. See how to add collaborators to your collection. If you’re a Pro or Team user you can use comments to discuss paint colors on Dropmark in complete privacy.

I continue to save inspiration to Dropmark for future homes and rooms. I can’t currently fit a library in my small Brooklyn apartment, but a girl can dream. Whether you dream of a cabin in the woods, or a fun loft apartment, you can dream with Dropmark.

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How do you use Dropmark for your home? Let us know on Twitter and Instagram.