regional roundup

regional roundup: iceland (part 3 of 3)

by anne

Today rounds up our third and final post on Iceland (click here and here for the first two posts). Next month we head stateside for our next design roundup, but I hope you’ve enjoyed your mini exploration of Iceland and have been able to check out some of the sites of these incredible designers. And if you’re ready to hop on the next plane to Iceland, I totally encourage you to do so (just be warned it is an island and isn’t cheap!). Besides a trip down Laugavegur (the main shopping street) or a visit to the breathtaking Blue Lagoon, events like Iceland Airwaves music festival (incredible acts at a variety of venues from cafes to museums all around the city), Sequences Real Time Arts Festival or the Reykjavik Ars Festival may be just the excuse you’re looking for. But for now, click here to see the final group of featured artists. [Thanks again to all the wonderful artists who participated!] -anne

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1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I am from the north east of Iceland but live and work at the south side in Reykjavik.

2. Describe your work


3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
It is very much influenced with my surroundings and people I know – how is different with each design, sometimes nature, sometimes art, always feelings….

4. Where do you go in Iceland when you want to feel inspired?
I go out in nature – maybe not to be inspired- more to clear my mind and just be a part of it, when one comes back it is space in your brain for inspiration.gudrun3.jpg

5. How would you describe the Icelandic design scene?
Young – not formed – could be exciting times ahead.

6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
I always wanted to go to Africa on a safari – still want to.

{Images: lava flower [stool] from recent exhibition at Tools Galerie in Paris, curiosity cabinet, linus lamp, rocking beauty}

You may recognize her work from this d*s post. Click here to see more.ingibjorg1.jpg
Ingibjörg Hanna Bjarnadóttir
and Stella Design

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I’m from Reykjavik and currently live there.

2. Describe your work
I try to reawake the child inside us all. My work is playful and functional. Every aspect of the concept is explored, right through to the packaging.ingibjorg2.jpg

3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
When it comes to themes, I’m influenced by our cultural/national heritage. I try to take these themes into a direction not used before. For example, I’ve used the old nordic/Icelandic textile pattern – which has mostly been used in clothing – for a black, plexiglass lamp. The light shines through the pattern and that is the only way it really appears for the eye. When it comes to material I use what makes the design exciting. I’m inspired by the work of the artist Louisa Matthíasdóttir. The colours, the rough but true shape of the objects in her paintings – nature, animals, people, houses.

4. Where do you go in Iceland when you want to feel inspired?
When I want to be inspired in Iceland I go to one of our art museums or galleries and absorb the colours and structure, or I take a walk in the city and look at graffiti, strange houses or what every catches the eye. On the whole, I get inspired by the little everyday things that happen or appear. I use the previous experience, from today or my childhood and find a way to make it into a useful design object.ingibjorg3.jpg

5. How would you describe the Icelandic design scene?
The Icelandic design scene is a little different to most others, mainly because our population is so small. This has some interesting pros and cons. For example, it’s difficult for designers to manufacture but very easy to get exposure.More recently, though, the internet has given a real boost for Icelandic design. So many interesting designs seem to be popping out, like one of our volcanoes have erupted and young, talented Icelandic designers with original designs are flowing.

6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
I would go to Japan try to absorb some of their crazy/unique inventiveness and trends.{images: ljosspor table lamp, not rudolf coat rack,my family glassware + packaging, raven coat hanger (you may recognize these from this d*s post)}

Click here or here to see more.

Juto Design

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
Maybe I´m not a typical Icelander since I have an Icelandic mother and a Swedish father. As a child I grew up in Stockholm but at age eleven I moved to Iceland and since then I have lived here in Reykjavik.

2. Describe your work
I graduated as a product designer from the Icelandic Academy of the Arts last spring. During my studies and since graduation I have mostly been designing practical everyday objects, both furniture as well as smaller things. I have also been doing a bit of graphics. I guess if asked to describe my work I would describe it as being warm and a little humorous. Perhaps a mix of estetics and good fun.
3. How is your work influenced by where you live?

It is hard not to be influenced by your surroundings. I grew up in Sweden until I became a teenager. Many of the things that I draw upon as an artist and a designer come in part from my childhood memories. So I am probably subconsciously influenced by a mixture of Icelandic and Swedish culture. I usually work with warmth in my design and focus on simplicity. Patterns and plain colors in an appropriate mixture. Sweden and Iceland are different countries in many ways. In my mind Iceland represents roughness, opposites, energy, magnificent beauty and a dash of humor. Sweden softer, more enduring, useful, delicate and beautiful. The open and desolate spaces of Iceland have always enchanted and given me a sense of freedom. Ialso sometimes draw upon folklore and old Icelandic heritage, artwork etc.

4. Where do you go in Iceland when you want to feel inspired?
I usually take a trip out into the countryside, into some of the wide open spaces. Without being able to travel around I would not survive for long so my free time is largely spent travelling around Iceland. The sea is also very important to me and I feel it is vital to be able to look out my window and see the ocean stretching out as far as the eye can see, ever moving and ever changing. But to be fair, nature relaxes me and nourishes the soul but most of my inspiration comes from man made objects, buildings, architecture, forms and colours of the city.bjorg31.jpg

5. If you could go anywhere where would you go?

I have always had a desire to travel around in Asia, visit Japan, Korea, China, Vietnam to name a few countries. I would also love to visit Africa.

6. How would you describe the Icelandic design scene?
Icelandic design is experiencing quite a surge lately. A few years ago the word product designer carried little meaning but now everyone is talking about design and designers. It is very characteristic of Icelanders to dive headfirst into every new thing to come along and design is no exception. There are numerous very good designers that are just starting out on their carreers and it is very exciting to be able to contribute to the melting pot of current Icelandic design.

{images: multi-purpose plate/trivet and cup/pitcher, egg holders, reSTORE saucer and tray}

Click here to see more.

Signy Kolbeinsdottir

1. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
I’m from Reykjavik, Iceland but I grew up in Munich, Germany. My parents and I moved back to Reykjavik when I was 9. Now I live in Reykjavik.

2. Describe your work
My works cover a spectrum of Japanese manga and fairy-tales to picturesque surreal dreams and nightmares.signy2.jpg
3. How is your work influenced by where you live?
I think the nature in Iceland is inspiring. It is very extravagant, mystic and full of beautiful shapes and colors. Lots of space and mountains. Many cool, young Icelandic designers and artists are getting more prominent in the cultural landscape around the world. Icelanders, I think, are in general very optimistic people. We just do things without thinking to much about it. All that has had a huge influence on me and my work.

4. Where do you go in Iceland when you want to feel inspired?
I don´t know? I don´t have a particular place for that.

5. How would you describe the Iceland design scene?
Uber trendy.
6. If you could go anywhere where would you go?
Hong Kong is very high on the list.

{Images: doormat installation collaboration, latex lights, new buddah and tokyo illustrations}

Click here to see more.

Suggested For You


  • As an Icelandic-American in the design field living in NYC (thats a mouthful) I have really enjoyed reading this series – thankyou Anne! Also to anyone else in New York who is interested in Iceland design and art there are some great exhibits on right now – one at the Scandinavia House From Another Shore: Recent Icelandic Art And at the MOMA Take your time: Olafur Eliasson. I have seen both and I really enjoyed them – cheers to both Grace and Anne for having such and interesting and in depth look at Iceland’s Design scene!

  • This is very cool–my husband spent a year in Iceland, and I only got a week to visit but we can’t wait to go back (next summer?) Does anyone have any suggestions for other websites/blogs on art and design in Iceland?

  • I am so glad you decided to do a 3 part piece on Icelandic design. I lived there for two summers (and only one cold month in the winter) and I always rave to people about the amazing artists working in Reykjavik. I live in kansas city and constantly look at my pictures from Iceland to gather ideas for my next design project. It is truly a magical place full of creativity!!!

  • Very cool post indeed.
    If anyone out there is thinking about traveling to Iceland to check out the funky Icelandic design scene, the best place to find flights is http://www.dohop.com. One of the few search sites that actually lists all Icelandic carriers as well as international!

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