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DMTV Milkshake: Ýrúrarí on Knitting a Wild New World

10.06.21 | By
DMTV Milkshake: Ýrúrarí on Knitting a Wild New World
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On this week’s DMTV Milkshake, we talk to Icelandic textile designer and artist Ýr Jóhannsdóttir, who works as Ýrúrarí.

If you think everything that can be done with knitting has already been done, you probably haven’t seen Ýrúrarí’s work, worn by celebrities including Erykah Badu and Tierra Whack. Similarly, if you thought you’ve seen every iteration on the now-standard face mask, you might not have seen hers, a knitted piece covering half her face, with a three-dimensional pink tongue extending beyond the mask to touch her eye. It’s equal parts traditional craft work, biology and science fiction.

3D textile face mask

3D textile face mask

Iceland’s famous hot dog – perhaps improbably for non-Icelanders, the quintessential American meal plays a central role in the Nordic country’s food firmament – is the unlikely starting point for Ýrúrarí’s Peysa Með Öllu series. (“Peysa með öllu” translates to “hot dog with everything”; she rechristened this work as “Sweater Sauce” in English: “It’s easier,” she says.) This work attempted to reconcile her desire to create work without creating environmental waste – and so she collaborated with Iceland’s Red Cross shops (similar to a Goodwill or other charity boutique) to gather up stained, worn or otherwise unwearable sweaters. With that raw material in hand, she created entirely new pieces – including some with hot dog references, like sweaters with protruding woolen hot dogs, or knit recreations of spilled mustard and ketchup.

ketchup mustard sweater

hotdog sweater

Also in this Milkshake, the Glasgow School of Art graduate talks to us about her special relationship with Icelandic sheep (“I think all Icelanders have their relationship with sheep – there are more sheep than people here”). She’s currently at work on her next big research project in Serbia, in conversation with local women who use Icelandic wool, and she’ll put all of that knowledge to work in an upcoming theatrical production focused on the same material. Tune in to see a hyper-creative mind at work.

art sweater

Diana Ostrom, who has written for Wallpaper, Interior Design, ID, The Wall Street Journal, and other outlets, is also the author of Faraway Places, a newsletter about travel.

Milkshake, DMTV (Design Milk TV)’s first regular series, shakes up the traditional interview format by asking designers, creatives, educators and industry professionals to select interview questions at random from their favorite bowl or vessel. During their candid discussions, you’ll not only gain a peek into their personal homeware collections, but also valuable insights into their work, life and passions.