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Blog > A New Peace Symbol for Europe: Linda Bos and Runa Egilsdottir on their Winning EUROPA Stamp Design

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Postcrossers that received postcards from Europe last year may have noticed a colorful stamp motif gracing some of their postcards. Linda Bos and Runa Egilsdottir, a design duo known as the Designers’ Collective, created the “peace knot” stamp for POST Luxembourg’s winning entry to the EUROPA Stamp Competition in 2023.

A mashup of EUROPA stamps block sheets, all featuring the 2023 design inspired on the celtic knot
Stamp issues, first-day covers, and maxi-cards issued by European postal companies in 2023.

Last winter, Linda and Runa took time to share with Clarisse (aka CStar9) the origins of this design and their deep connection to stamps and mail.

But first, a bit more about the stamp. Each year since 1956, the EUROPA stamp program has encouraged continent-wide collaboration on stamp issues around a common theme. If you’re new to EUROPA stamps and want to learn more, check out last month’s post about them! In 2023, the EUROPA theme was “Peace – the highest value of humanity”, declared to express European solidarity with Ukraine.

The EUROPA design competition draws dozens of entries by national postal systems in Europe every year. Linda and Runa’s peace knot design won the competition for POST Luxembourg in 2023. Their design was subsequently adopted as a EUROPA stamp issue by more than 50 postal companies in Europe.

The 2023 EUROPA stamp, featuring a stylized celtic knot holding hands
The winning design
Can you tell us more about your approach to the peace knot as a graphic concept in this stamp?

We wanted the peace stamp to represent every single person in the greater region of Europe, regardless of their origin and belief.

After researching existing peace symbols, we realised they had either religious origins (like the dove and olive branch), or we sensed they were no longer suited for our time (like the common peace symbol, which started its life as a symbol of the British anti-nuclear movement), or they had evolved to having a different meaning in certain cultures (like the ‘two fingers up’).

We concluded it was time to create a new peace symbol for Europe!

When delving into the very diverse world of symbols from all over Europe for inspiration, we found the Celtic love knot to be very fitting to base our design on. The meaning behind this knot is love and connection; there are four hearts ‘hidden’ inside.

To strengthen the message of unity and cohesion, we created two sets of hands with interlaced fingers instead of the classic handshake, which in our opinion would have given it too much of a political and corporate vibe.

An earlier sketch of the design
An early sketch of the peace knot design.

We then decided to apply a colour palette derived from flag colours — and a new peace symbol was born!

We like to add that we were delighted to work on this project together with Emile Espen from Post Philately Luxembourg, who commissioned us on this project and who gave the good-to-go for this symbol.

Linda and Runa receive an award
Linda and Runa: the Designers’ Collective (accepting a German Design Award in 2018)
What is the origin story of your collaboration?

Both of us studied design. We had been working in the field separately until our paths crossed over a decade ago. There was an immediate click, both personally and professionally, so we decided to help each other out on projects. We soon realised that our skills were very complementary. We work much more effectively and raise our work to the next level, when working as a duo.

Was this your first effort to design a stamp, either individually or as a collective?

Linda designed her first set of Europa stamps in 2012, followed by the 2014 Luxembourg Christmas stamps and a special block for the 2017 Multilaterale Hertogpost Philatelic Exhibition.

The latter appeared in both the Netherlands and Luxembourg. There was a unique block containing stamps from both countries.

Other stamps designed by them
Linda Bos’s stamp issues for POST Luxembourg

We then designed some stamps commissioned by clients as a duo. The peace knot stamp was the first one commissioned by POST Luxembourg for us to design together. The success of this design proves to us that we should continue working together for sure!

What are your personal relationships to postal mail?

We love to send and receive postal mail. Of course nowadays, a large part of what once needed to be sent by postal mail has been replaced by email. But this makes it even more special to receive ‘real’ mail.

Each year we put a lot of thought into our Happy New Year card we send to our clients. We don’t believe we will ever opt for a digital version, which can never replace the excitement of opening a nice envelope and touching a card printed on special paper.

What’s next for you as a collaborative duo?

Creative world domination!

You can learn more about Linda and Runa’s work on their website, or on their Instagram and Facebook pages. You can also watch a brief interview about the peace stamp or check out Linda’s 2019 midwives stamp.

26 comments so far

Watertree, United States of America

We do evolve, as humans, as culture. Artists like Runa and Linda represent our next stage in a lovely manner. Congratulations on winning the award.

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sealed4ever, United States of America

Beautiful. Congrats ladies

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mysweetlife63, United States of America

Beautiful! So enjoy their work!

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mezzanine2, Canada

It is such a thoughtful and imaginative design. I had to look again to find the other two hearts.

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DianeM, United States of America

Congratulations, Linda and Runa! I look forward to receiving this design from the stamps of various countries.

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Anjelikka, United States of America

Love these :) Congratulations!!!

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Maedegatos, Portugal

Wonderful! I wish Portuguese post had such stamps tooa

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Angelthepup22, United States of America

Very cool!

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underthebed, United States of America

Interesting design and looks good thanks for sharing.

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Karizzzzmaaa, United States of America

Well done ladies! I design all my own post cards so I know the work and delight that goes into this! <clapping for you>

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DagoDuck, Germany

I´m happy to own same of these stamps from different countries.

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Ratukas, Lithuania

I don't like the work of these two artists. Their work is boring and not harmonious. And a brand based on a Celtic pattern is also no good. My country also released this stamp in 2023 and it is one of the worst.

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NellyMuc, Germany

I dont like this work, i like the old peace symbols.

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jjmedusa, United States of America

I have the 2014 Luxembourg Christmas stamps. The one with the owl is my favorite and that's why I specially ordered these stamps. But I never knew who the designer behind the stamps was. Now I know! :)

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Nana77, Luxembourg

So very well done indeed! It is one of my all-time favourite stamp designs, along with the Postcrossing one (obviously) and also the lovely colourful one for the 50th anniversary of the Publications Office of the European Union, of which I only have a handful left... (this one:
https://www.postphilately.lu/fr-FR/products/collectionneurs/timbres-de-collection/50-ans-de-l%E2%80%98office-des-publications-officielles-de) :-))

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PHILATELY07, United States of America

Linda and Runa have created a stunningly beautiful and meaningful stamp. Since childhood I have accepted the dove and olive branch as a peace symbol, but never quite realized that it was biblical. Their peace symbol is all-inclusive.

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secondhandrose, Australia

Those Christmas stamps are beautiful!

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manencov, Romania

I know the story of this stamp .Congratulations for Linda and Runa!
The stamp is realistic and designed for all country of Europe. I would like each country to have its own Europe stamp for peace concept. Its value would obviously increase.

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Demmi, Romania

Congrats ladies! #Kudos for your work Beautiful!!!

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Greenflowers51, United States of America

This was truly an interesting and happy article. I learned so much and this has made my postcards I have received even happier! Thank you.

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klatschmohnfrau, Germany

When I look at this stamp closely I see peace, love + diversity. So, it's really great! Thanks for sharing.

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ave, United States of America

Wonderful news, thanks for reminding us that there can be no replacement for human creativity!

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e4621m, United States of America

Your design speaks LOUD with diversity, love, unity and peace. Well done!!

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humanus, Korea (South)

Lovely design with So many meaningful symbol.

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Ursula66, Germany

I definitely want that New Zealand Postcrossing stamp. It is very much nicer than our german Postcrossing stamp.

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sae29, Malaysia

Hope for some kind soul to send me this design stamp 😍

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