– a blog about my work, research, ideas, typography and passion for books.

preparing my third and final research seminar


PHD | 13 February is my final research seminar at the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication. A paper is presented as a part of the seminar comprising a case study of food labels for milk and milk-related products. The presentation provides some of my findings regarding key social changes, food label design and health messages.

working in The centre for ephemera studies, university of reading


PHD | The Centre for Ephemera Studies is located in the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication and holds much exciting material from 1800 to the present day; from domestic and imported food labels to advertisements and posters. I have spent many hours in this room, going through each box at the time.

annual report 2019, Bodil


WORK | Operating simultaneously as a graphic designer and researcher is not always easy and several days contains work from both disciplines. My everyday life inspires this year’s annual report for my own company, from the food I am eating, where I am working, what I am reading to travels, archives and preparations for new book projects.

the national archives, kew london


PHD | Spending one day in The National Archives, Kew London researching milk-related documents from the 1930-1950s; advertisements, letters and written communication between the Milk Marketing Board and various agencies. A huge and crowded place, many documents, a lot of information and many impressions. Some useful stuff – some not…

inspiration and writing retreat in norwich


PHD RESEARCH / INSPIRATION | Bringing my Mac, books, many articles and proper shoes to Norwich for a few days to write, think, be inspired, walk, drink good coffee – write more, read more, think more, drink more good coffee

– an excellent way to be inspired.

Presenting my research in The Ephemerist


PHD RESEARCH | The Ephemerist is a quarterly magazine published by The Ephemera Society in the UK. Issue No 186 is bringing together an eclectic group of articles on the theme of ephemera and Food and Drink. My research is presented as a timeline and shows examples of food labels from three periods: 1850–1918, 1918–1945 and 1945–1970. The study explores exchanges in their visual organisation in the context of key social changes, the discovery of the relationship between diet and health, label legislation and the regulation of food production.

Postgraduate research communication success


By Alison Black

Postgraduate research communication success. Congratulations to postgraduate researcher Bodil Mostad Olsen who has won the University’s prize for research communication in a poster competition, held as part of the University’s annual Doctoral Research Conference. Bodil’s communication of her research topic – the history of health communication on food labels – was judged top among a very competitive field of posters representing research across a wide range of arts, science and social science disciplines. Her poster illustrates her collections-based research. It shows the changing influences of scientific understanding of food hygiene and nutrition, food packaging technology, and societal change on the presentation of food to consumers from 1850–1970. This area of typographic and graphic communication practice, although influential in people’s everyday decision-making, has not been considered previously from this wide, contextual perspective.

Annual report 2018, Bodil


WORK / PERSONAL PROJECT | As my PhD is a full-time study, 2018 has been characterised by more research than design projects. The annual report for my own company is therefore visually inspired by food labels and in particular Sainsbury´s packaging design from 1950-60. The front page is part of a label from 1964 from The Sainsbury´s Archive, Museum of London Docklands.

identifying typical graphic characteristics in food labels


PHD RESEARCH | I am identifying the visual organisation of typical graphic characteristics in food labels and presenting the observations as infographics. It considers the typographical hierarchy and the presentation and style of images, including how usage has changed over time.

researching milk packaging


PHD RESEARCH | I am interested in how milk is presented from different perspectives throughout my whole research period; 1850-1970 to identify whether various information and promotion has influenced the design of food packaging or not. These labels are from 1950s. ©Wellcome Collection.