Note: This originally appeared on
To crack the code on what sets Berghs apart from the competition Sarah Snavely talks to Adam Horne, Creative Director of Berghs Studio.
How would you describe the Berghs’ way of teaching?
Adam: It’s a balance between being deeply pragmatic and deeply engaged with what the world needs now and in the immediate future, and the larger machinations that affect communication – namely cultural context and human psychology.
What is action-based learning?
Adam: Lots of things. It’s learning by doing. And it’s based on the understanding that nothing is right the first time. That pragmatic test-and-learn is a good pathway to a great result. It’s a way to get both sides of the brain working cohesively and an inviting way to learn. It’s also good fun.
How does the Berghs’ method differ from that taught at other communication schools?
Adam: Berghs is a pretty accurate reflection of its context. As an Australian, I really notice just how Swedish it is – in a good way! It’s a wonderful advantage in lots of ways. It’s less hierarchal. It’s more open to questioning itself – by both staff and students. It’s also practical. It’s not about looking smart, it’s about being smart. And it’s full of people with a real social conscience. And by not being a research school saves a whole lot of academic distraction.
What sets Berghs apart from the competition?
Adam: It’s so well established in the communication industry in Sweden that we attract the best people. Our teaching staff is world class – our students are world class. That the quality of the students is high is really a key – they drive each other more than the staff ever could. We’re also careful that we don’t get lazy or complacent. We work hard to keep our education and ideas fresh.
Did the Berghs’ method evolve over time? What was learning like at Berghs when the school first opened in 1941?
Adam: Articulating their value to business, in the language of business, will continue to be a huge issue. I think design thinking helped position creativity as a strategic business advantage, but there’s still a lot to do there. There are also structural shifts toward the gig economy, which can be very good mid-career but can rob grads of long-term exposure to mentors. You really need to keep learning in your first few jobs, and have role models to help you.
Is there anything about the Berghs’ method of teaching that is specifically Swedish?
Adam: Absolutely! As a society, it’s really flat. Students question everything. That’s pretty powerful. Also as a capital city, Stockholm is pretty quiet. People mainly leave you alone. And that’s really good for digging in and learning.