Earlier this month we traveled to Reykjavik, Iceland to celebrate DesignMarch’s 10th anniversary and check out the latest and greatest on the Icelandic design scene. During these festival days, the entire city of Reykjavik was alive with excitement and pride as everyone (including the mayor of Iceland and Björk herself – true story!) traveled the design circuit to explore exhibitions, installations and showrooms. We came, we saw, we soaked. Here’s a recap of our favorite moments:
During DesignTalk, we listened to Dr. Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg who just finished her PhD and wrote her entire thesis about the idea of better. She asks: “What is better? Whose better? And who gets to decide?” At a time when designers and companies are striving to innovate for the better, create for a better future, and better today’s environmental issues, she encourages the design community to dig deep and question whether a design truly is better. For example, is a ground-breaking technologic device made in factories of poor conditions and low wages truly better? If synthetic biology can help rejuvenate forests, can we consider the industrialization of nature better for the world? An insightful talk that ended on a hopeful note, we left feeling inspired.
Paper designer Bea Szenfeld gave a delightful presentation about designing for Lady Gaga and Björk and the challenges of working with paper to create her dresses and sculptures.
We stopped by DesignMUNch, an exhibition celebrating Icelandic design. MUN is run by four female designers that focus on creating beautiful objects and furniture that are designed with intention. The brands are MUN are ANNA THORUNN, bybibi, FÆRID, North Limited and IHANNA HOME, with Studio Flétta participating in DesignMarch for the first time.
At Epal Design, a home + design store in Iceland, we checked out a showcase of popular design objects and furniture that were all created by Icelandic designers, like the Notknot, the original knot pillow designed by Ragnheiður Ösp Sigurðardóttir of studio Umemi.
No trip to Iceland is complete without a trip to the Blue Lagoon, where we learned that the popular tourist destination is expanding! Opening in May with a soft opening in April, The Retreat is a new luxury hotel that’s built right into the volcanic landscape of the surrounding lagoon. The new expansion includes a new restaurant and a new spa area that offers a more private experience as you soak in the lagoon’s geothermal seawater.
Almost every hour of the three days we were at DesignMarch was spent discovering emerging designers or new Icelandic collections. Here are five of our favorites:
Founded in 2017, FÓLK is an Icelandic design and lifestyle company founded by Ragna Sara that works with progressive designers to create modern homewares, furniture and lifestyle products focused on sustainability, responsibility and transparency. The brand unveiled their latest collaboration with designer Ólína Rögnudóttir called Living Objects, which includes stacking glass vessels and metal + stone object that can be used as a candleholder or a vase.
USEE STUDIO is a conscious creative studio founded by Halla Hákonardóttir and Helga Kjerúlf that prides itself on its focus for sustainable, eco-friendly products that are also fun and create a feel good vibe. The studio won the Reykjavik Grapevine Design Awards “Product Line of the Year” for their USEE blankets.
Copenhagen-based Icelandic designer Dögg Guðmundsdóttir of Dögg Design experiments with asymmetrical folded forms using aluminum, metal and oak to create a modern take on traditional objects, like candleholders, wall hooks and storage containers.
Inspired by Iceland’s rugged but majestic landscapes, designer Hilda Gunnarsdóttir creates womenswear that is feminine, effortless and bold for her fashion label, Milla Snorrason. For each collection, she focuses on a specific place in Iceland that inspires the graphic prints and thus, names the collection after its origin. At DesignMarch she collaborated with ceramist Hanna Whitehead to create an exhibition that showcased both their talents. Hanna also had her own exhibition at the Iceland Culture House to show her latest ceramics collection, Another Dialogue.
Design duo Þórey Björk Halldórsdóttir and Baldur Björnsson of creative studio AND ANTI MATTER (&AM) explores the space between design and art. Their Modular collection puts the consumer in the designer seat by allowing him/her to create a stand/pedestal or a purely decorative object, showing that functional objects can be art and vice versa.