The couple who get creative on the west coast of Norway
Ten years ago, Jon and Helle Frogner swapped city living for nature and surfing in a remote Norwegian village. Read how they’re thriving in their creative industries while wrangling sheep and kids.
Helle is a photographer, while Jon is a copywriter at an Oslo-based agency. The duo moved from Høvik, just outside Oslo, to build a new home in Stadlandet. Previously spending every spare moment fleeing the city to immerse themselves in nature – in the mountains or on the coast – they decided to double down and live it, settling with farmers and surfers in the remote village on the coast of Norway.
This life by the Atlantic Ocean is made possible by technology. Now they have strong WiFi and use Whereby for collaborating with colleagues, they lose nothing by working remotely. But they’ve gained so much. “It was more about a choice of life,” Helle says, “How we wanted to live our lives, and what we wanted to be surrounded by.”
Jon is totally sold. “Living close to the ocean, in a small community is very nice. I used to work in telecom, marketing all this technology selling the idea that you can live and work everywhere in the future. Turned out the message was true.”
When they’re not building a house, or helping neighbours round up free range sheep, work is going better than ever. Jon loves the combination of independent, remote work and online collaboration, “Some days I spend all day on video calls, and other days I get time to write for days, without interruptions.”
Meanwhile, the landscape is Helle’s muse. She edits at home a lot, but visits a co-working space a few times a week to spend time with like-minded creatives. “It has strengthened my inner voice as an artist, which in turn has led to more interesting assignments and opportunities.”
And outside of work, life is enriched for the pair. They have more time for themselves, and as a family. “To go for a hike or surf, all we need to do is walk out the door,” Helle says. “We get to see the kids more and spend more time doing the things that we love. Having a sense of being at the right place, actually is a big deal. Surfing, snowboarding, hikes and a lot of social activities add up to much joy and gratitude.”
Being remote doesn’t mean a lack of connection to the real world. In fact, the couple are getting more and more involved with the community, thanks once more to video calls. “Now we can engage in local political meetings, which strengthens our citizenship,” Jon says. “The cities have kept filling up throughout the whole industrial revolution, maybe this technology can help a few more to connect to remote communities again, bringing new ideas and resources, while experiencing and being part of local culture and traditions.”
Helle and Jon have been living the remote lifestyle for a decade now, but they see the world catching up to their point of view. Especially with the pandemic. “Working remotely is contagious, for sure,” Jon says. “When people realise they can bring their work along, they start to imagine new ways of living. The lockdown made home offices commonplace, and from there a whole new world opens up…”
We have all we could ever dream of right here.
See Helle’s photography on Instagram and website
Discover Maskinen, Jon’s creative agency on Instagram.