Author: HA magazine

The return of

Don Cano

  If there was one thing that really captured the mood of the eighties in Iceland, it was Don Cano clothing. The colorful clothing, which made its debut at the beginning of the decade, was something new and totally fresh. At the time, breakdancing was at the height of its popularity. When the trendiest dancers and top athletes began wearing Don Cano, it wasn’t long before the brand had become one of the most popular fashion brands in Icelandic history. The clothes, which appealed to all ages, were exceptionally well made, light, and comfortable. At some point in the middle of the decade, the craze was so widespread that every other Icelander was wearing Dan Cano and people actually fought over the clothes when they arrived in stores. Now, three decades later, rumor has it that Don Cano is making a comeback. But is that just wishful thinking or is there some truth to the rumors? Jan Davidsson, the former owner and head designer at Don Cano, is the only person who can really answer …

King’s Gambit

Design, Desultories and Dead Flies at Match of the Century

The chess match played between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky in Reykjavik on July 11, 1972 is without a doubt one of the most famous ever played. The duel, dubbed “Match of the Century” by the New York Times, was not only a battle between two men, but a showdown between the two superpowers of the age: the United States and the Soviet Union. With the Cold War at its frostiest, the two empires met each other halfway for a tense skirmish in Iceland. At the time, the title of World Chess Champion had been held by a citizen of the USSR for an unprecedented twenty-four years, and the Soviets felt it proof of their intellectual and ideological superiority. Consequently, the stakes were high for the United States, and enormous expectations lay on the shoulders of the young eccentric Bobby Fischer. The gracious hosts, too, were under pressure, as for the first time, the eyes of the world rested upon Iceland. Now was the time for erecting a stage fit for major players. The world …

Cabinet of Curiosities

IAA Product Design Graduates 2016 Part 2

This year’s BA graduates in product design displayed a cabinet of curiosities to show their final projects backed with rich research. In the first part of this two-part-article, we spoke to Gardar Eyjólfsson, who is the director of studies in Product Design and who lead the final project course together with Thomas Pausz. In this second part we highlight one exemplary project by BA graduate Kristín Sigurðardóttir.   Kristín Sigurðardóttir – The Alchemist For her final project ‘Utile’, Kristín Sigurðardóttir created obsidian by recycling stone-wool, then made tiles from it. “The starting point was glass recycling. I got really interested in it when I found out about the non-existing glass recycling in Iceland and all glass is imported. To my surprise, bottles we return to the recycling centers are not sent abroad for recycling in other countries, like we do with the plastic and aluminum, and we do not have a glass factory in Iceland to recycle it either. So thousands of tons of glass have been used in landfills. Some experiments have been made to recycle …

Cabinet of Curiosities

IAA Product Design Graduates 2016, Part 1

Autumn is upon us and a fresh batch of students are settling in at the Iceland Academy of the Arts. To get a sense of things to come we looked back at final projects from this year’s BA graduates in product design, who displayed a cabinet of curiosities backed with rich research as their final exhibition. In the first part of this two-part-article, we speak to Gardar Eyjólfsson, who is the director of studies in Product Design and who lead the final project course together with Thomas Pausz. In the second part, we highlight one exemplary project. HA – Garðar, how is this year’s group of graduates different from the previous years? I have noticed a change in mentality in our students for the last couple of years. They are starting to work much more as unit, sharing their research, network and experiences for the greater whole. They understand that they are much more powerful as a group than an individual. That was very visible in their group project willow project (willowproject.is). The coming generation share an interest …

“Reporting from the Front”

Conversation on the Venice Biennale 2016

Text by Mark Smyth (MS), Sigrún Sumarliðadóttir (SS) and Giambattista Zaccariotto (GZ)   GZ: In the press conference and introduction of the Biennale in Venice 2016 it was stated that it has been organized around the statements that the built environment is key for the quality of life of the majority and that it is there implicitly for the common good. A common good, which is threatened by a number of existing problems that are ongoing, such as natural disasters (mostly man made) and purely economically driven construction. These spatial conditions are reducing the possibilities for humanity, in terms of our rights, physical and psychological needs. This has been called the built environment of banality or mediocracy and there are inherent drivers that produce and reproduce it. One of the drivers that has been considered key, is the use of the built environment as an economical tool rather then a social one or a goal for a welfare infrastructure, this is a key theme in Aravena’s biennale. SS: Keeping this in mind, Aravena organised the …

Biennale report #2 – Social Sustainability

The potential for architecture to engage with the community

Architects Sigrún Sumarliðadóttir, Mark Smyth and Giambattista Zaccariotto, give us an insight into some of the highlights of the 15th Biennale of Architecture in Venice 2016. Globalisation has separated the general public from the perceived architectural elite. The role of the architect, in some cases, needs to broaden to look beyond the object (building) to the economical and social interventions required to better serve a community. One of the main emphasis of the curator Aravena this year is a focus of architectures role in improving the quality of daily life by improving the quality of the built environment and reconnecting with the users/citizens (what Aravena calls “the civil society”) that are often excluded from the process of its making. Improving the quality of daily life of people is a complex affair and the solution or intervention required can be a new physical object in the landscape but not necessarily, in other cases slight changes in the existing can be enough or even just encouraging changes in behaviour, breaking the vicious circle of the status quo/business as usual. Below are …

Biennale Report #1 – Cultural Sustainability

The resurgence of local craft, materials and skills

REPORTING FROM THE FRONT, was this year’s title for the Biennale of Architecture in Venice. The international exhibition opened on the 28. of May and was curated by architect and pritzker prizewinner Alejandro Aravena. Architects Sigrún Sumarliðadóttir, Mark Smyth and Giambattista Zaccariotto, visited the exhibition and gave us an insight into some of this years highlights. Traditional technologies where a recurring theme at this year’s Biennale; presented both as a source of knowledge and a mechanism for education – the creation of knowledge. This is nothing new, and one could argue that our existing architectural toolkit was discussed exhaustively at the previous biennale curated by Rem Koolhas. The difference we observed (and welcomed) this year was a conscious effort by a large number of the participants to illustrate how these tools where deployed successfully in their contemporary practice. One of our favourite contributions this year, came from Zhang Ke (Standard Architecture) of China. The presentation was particularly successful in explaining a solution to an urban problem, from the scale of the city through to a full-size prototype. He introduces …

HA nr. 3

is out

In the third issue of HA, we embrace the anti-establishment, play with the rules and confidently face the future. Issue 3 features the most interesting new design introduced during DesignMarch. Summit co-founder Daniel Golling writes about the state of things in Icelandic design while Finnish design strategist Marco Steinberg looks at design in relation to politics – a topical view in the context of the political turmoil of our island in the past few months. Spark Design Space, the Iceland Academy of the Arts, Vík Prjónsdóttir and the Nordic mash-up project 1+1+1 are all included, too. HA is published both in Icelandic and in English by the Iceland Design Centre. It is available in Eymundsson bookstores, which are located in every major towns in Iceland, and in most Design stores in the Reykjavík area; Epal, Kraum, Hrím, Aurum, Reykjavík art museum, National Galley of Iceland and The National Museum of Iceland. We are proud to be stocked overseas atPapercut in Stockholm; Lokal in Helsinki and Kioskafe by Monocle in London. You can also order a …

Game On

Elements of good play areas

As Reykjavík keeps growing, the designated play areas for its youngest inhabitants need to be developed strategically too, write landscape architects Aðalheiður E. Kristjánsdóttir and Svava Þorleifsdóttir Text by Aðalheiður E. Kristjánsdóttir and Svava Þorleifsdóttir. Cover photo by Eva Lind Children spend up to eight hours every day at school or in kindergarten. It is vital that the surrounding grounds are designed with their needs in mind. The design of play spaces should aim to provide children with an outlet for play and creative energy, fulfill their need for exercise, and encourage outdoor activities and games. It is common rule that all children should engage in moderate or vigorous physical exercise at least 60 minutes a day. Well-designed playgrounds stimulate children’s imaginations and provide a space that encourages movement as well as both structured and spontaneous play. Playgrounds need to be safe, but also well-constructed and durable so that they can withstand punishment from children and weather alike. Research has shown that outdoor activity has a demonstratively positive effect on concentration, learning and social interaction. …

DesignTalks follow-up

Studio Swine

  DesignMarch, Reykavik opened with DesignTalks, a full day of inspiring talks lead by internationally renowned designers and design thinkers at the architectural astounding Harpa. Part of the impressive line-up was Anglo-Japanese Studio Swine, co-founded by Architect Azusa Murakami and Artist Alexander Groves. They gave an exceptional talk sharing their unique approach to design and explained their nomadic way of working. Operating across a wide range of disciplines, Studio Swine’s work has gained an international audience within and beyond the design world. Their first proper encounter came as a heart-warming surprise to the audience, having been trapped in Milan after an RCA school trip, due to the volcanic eruption of Eyjafjallajökull back in 2010. They have not left each other’s side since. (HA caught up with them briefly before their talk.) Studio Swine was founded on the basis of cooperation of the architect and an artist and the result of this cooperation is quite extraordinary. How do you deal with the different perspectives of Art, design and architecture during your work?  Azusa: “Architecture – able …