Author: Arnar Ingi

Thoughts on Beauty

By Guðbjörg R. Jóhannesdóttir

What is beauty? At first glance, it may appear odd to ask such questions – don’t we all already know what beauty is? Guðbjörg R. Jóhannesdóttir, doctor of environmental philosophy, questions what we actually mean when we speak about beauty and aesthetics. Text: Dr. Guðbjörg R. Jóhannesdóttir / Artwork by Elín Hansdóttir We use the word ‘beauty’ frequently and in a variety of different situations: this is a beautiful view, that’s a beautiful sunset, what a beautiful composition, the eruption is beautiful, this is beautifully designed, that’s a beautiful thought, it was a beautiful moment, that’s a beautiful thing to do. But what do we mean when say something is beautiful? Most will no doubt assume beauty to be something relative and subjective; “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and all that. This would define beauty to be a matter of taste: what I find beautiful, someone else might deem ugly. Some might say that beauty lies within certain objective qualities, an ideal shape and dimension, for instance the golden ratio. This idea …

Hidden Wood

Driftwood in design

Driftwood is the subject of an exhibition in Djúpavík at Strandir, one of the most enchanting places in the Westfjords of Iceland. The exhibition, HIDDEN WOOD – Driftwood in design, focuses on the diverse opportunities hidden in Icelandic driftwood, on an island that is largely devoid of wooden areas. Text: Arnar Fells / Photos: Halla E. Hansen & curiators Ever since the first settlers arrived to the shores of Iceland, driftwood has been a valuble commodity, used as building material for ships and houses. The coastline of Strandir has always been bombarded with driftwood so the area must have played an significant role in a country with only small forests. In the middle ages it was common belief that the trees grew at the bottom of the ocean, north of Iceland but now we know that most of the driftwood travels a long way from Siberia before reaching the shores of Iceland. It is no surprise then that the farmers at Strandir are known as people of great craftsmanship, selling carved artefacts and household tools all over Iceland. The exhibition Hidden Wood is meant …

Íshús Hafnarfjarðar

Ice storage building turns into a creative cluster

What was once a freezing house and fishing factory now hosts a group of creatives working on anything from knife making to ceramics to carpentry and textiles. All in all, there are 30 or so creatives working at the cluster. For a complete listing, see the end of the article.  Text: Arnar Fells Gunnarsson and Arnar Ingi Viðarsson / Photos: Arnar Fells Gunnarsson    The closeness makes for crossovers and creative collaborations, too. Knife maker Evangelos Tsagkouros and ceramist Hanna Gréta Pálsdóttir work together on a series on cups, while Hanna Greta also works with Jónína Ósk Lárusdóttir of the carpenter’s workshop bifurkolla.com for trays for her glass set.  Björn Stefánsson on the other hand runs the company 3D Verk, whose equipment for prototypes and moulds comes in handy for many others at the house, too.  Designers and creatives working at Íshus Hafnarfjardar:  Evangelos Tsagkouros Krypteia Knives Bergdís B. Guðnadóttir ceramics Embla Sigurgeirsdóttir ceramics Hanna Gréta Pálsdóttir ceramics Sigrún Guðna Gunnlaugsdóttir crafts Anna María Karlsdóttir anthropologist Þórdís Baldursdóttir ceramics Unnur Sæmundsdóttir visual arts Sindri Snæsson crafts Sigrún …

Guðmundur Úlfarsson at Or Type

A rising star in the world of typefaces

While most people think of typeface design as seriously nerdy, it is impossible to ignore the fact that fonts play a role in most aspects of daily life. Author: Arnar Fells / Photograper Axel Sigurðsson The graphic designer Guðmundur Úlfarsson is one of the two owners of Or Type, the only specialist typeface design studio (or type foundry) in Iceland. Guðmundur recently gained attention after both the New York Times Magazine and the Sundance Film Festival bought typefaces designed by him. So who is this young type designer and what inspires his work? To find out, HA visited Guðmundur’s office in the old gas station by Hlemmur… …“Or Type receives a lot of enquiries, despite the fact that our target market is small. In fact, we have too many typefaces underway. The only thing holding us back is time, because it takes so long to complete one typeface, and I’m not even talking now about creating different variations of it,” says Guðmundur, who, today, is working on five different typefaces. He brings out a photocopy …

Designs from Nowhere

The winner of the first Icelandic Design Award

The Icelandic Design Award was presented for the first time in November last year. The project Austurland: Designs from Nowhere won the prize, which was awarded at a ceremony in the Crystal Hall of the National Theatre of Iceland. Authors: Arnar Fells, Arnaldur Máni, María Kristín / Photographs by Brynjar S. Þrastarson and DFN Designers and architects have long dreamed of a prestigious award as there has been a need for a platform to reward and focus on the best things happening in design and architecture in Iceland. The award was established by the Iceland Design Centre in collaboration with the Iceland Academy of the Arts and the Museum of Design and Applied Art. The prize was one million Icelandic Krona, which was granted by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in Iceland. The importance of the Design Award is clear as society is becoming increasingly aware of the significance of good design for culture, society and the economy. However, there remains the question of whether the design field in Iceland is actually big enough for such …

Survival of the fittest

A revolutionary wheel suspension from Lauf Forks

Icelandic cycling culture has made a great leap forward in recent years. A nation that used to make fun of tourists cycling through horizontal rain are now gradually discovering biking for themselves. Author: Arnar Fells / Photos : Lauf Forks & Arnar Fells Bikes and cycling events are growing in popularity and the number of people cycling year round is continually going up. It isn’t clear what has caused the nation’s increased enthusiasm for biking, but improved cycling infrastructure and government public health efforts have had an influence. Most likely, however, the bug was brought back by students, returning home from those capitals of the bicycle, Denmark and Holland. Lauf Forks is an Icelandic company that sprang out of this cycling revolution. Over the last three years they have successfully developed and marketed a revolutionary suspension fork that is now used by cycling professionals throughout the world. The fork is designed for so-called ’hardtail’ mountain bikes, which have shock absorbers at the front rather than the rear. It attracts attention not only for its unusual …

Not your granny’s knits

MAGNEA

Icelandic wool + rubber. An odd couple, yes, but this kind of pairing has garnered fashion and textile designer Magnea Einarsdóttir attention for her meticulously made yet wearable knits. Author : Ásta Andrésdóttir / Photographer Aldís Pálsdóttir “Knits are so diverse, everything from superfine leggings to big, handmade cable-knit sweaters. The possibilities are endless; my goal has been to do something fresh and get people thinking about knits in a new way.” In 2012 she graduated from the prestigious Central Saint Martins campus in London. Magnea’s fashion studies actually began at the Parsons campus in Paris after finishing her preliminary work at the Reykjavík School of Visual Arts. “The plan was to move mid-program to Parsons in New York to get to know two of the world’s largest fashion hubs,” she explains. “Then I found out I could take a semester at CSM as an exchange student and fell in love not only with the department structure within the fashion studies department — you can specialize in womenswear, knitwear, etc. — but also with the …

Freedom & nostalgia

Milla Snorrason

Fashion designer Hilda Gunnarsdóttir has created womenswear since 2012 under the label Milla Snorrason. Nothing is out of bounds for Hilda when it comes to fashion design — from wool sweaters to elegant silk dresses. Author: Ásta Andrésdóttir / Photographs: Saga Sig “For me it’s important that women feel relaxed and move freely in my garments. It’s entirely possible to look sharp in an unhampered and effortless way”, says Hilda. These days the label’s new knitwear line is catching on. The figures that decorate the thick, warm wool sweaters are adapted from oil paintings by the half-Icelandic artist Sara Gillies. Hilda also uses the figures in a pattern for cotton jersey dresses and leggings. “I wanted to design knitwear from Icelandic wool with an Icelandic knitting manufacturer because it’s important to me to take advantage of opportunities for local production, not only to do my part to support local manufacturers but also for environmental reasons. I developed the product in collaboration with the Varma mills and it turned out brilliantly,” says Hilda. The sweaters sold well …

The Collapse – Looking back at big ideas

By Pétur H. Ármannsson

Reykjavík’s planning history is a story of big dreams that never come to fruition. Ambitious ideas that either failed to thrive or were only given life in mangled implementations. Its evolutionary history is the subject of three new books. Author: Pétur H. Ármannsson architect / Photographer Pétur Thomsen  In Reykjavík sem ekki varð (The Reykjavík That Never Was) historian Anna Dröfn Ágústsdóttir and architect Guðni Valberg reveal, replete with illustrations, some intriguing proposals for public buildings in downtown Reykjavík that never came to be. There are some real missed opportunities alongside ideas that thankfully never saw the light of day. The second book, Borgir og Borgarskipulag (Cities and City Planning) by city planner Dr. Bjarni Reynarsson, has a chapter on the history of building and planning in Reykjavík, which includes a convenient overview of the capital’s planning history in the context of international developments. The third book, Scarcity in Excess: The Built Environment and the Economic Crisis in Iceland, focuses on contemporary Iceland, the banking crisis and its implications on the built environment. The book …

Kristín Guðmundsdóttir

Ideals in interior design

The name Kristín Guðmundsdóttir has not had a prominent place in Icelandic design history, despite the fact that she was the first Icelander to educate herself abroad in interior design. Author: Halldóra Arnardóttir / Photographer: David Frutos Kristín, who chose to call herself híbýlafræðing [home expert], paved the way for the designers that came after. She pioneered many innovations in interior design, especially with regard to kitchen facilities and the use of color schemes. While it is still possible to find original fixtures designed by Kristín, unfortunately many were torn down. In a new book, Kristín Guðmundsdóttir, híbýlafræðingur/interior designer, which is soon to be published, Kristín finally receives the recognition she deserves as a pioneer in her field. So who was this notable woman? Kristín Guðmundsdóttir (born 1923) was the first Icelander to educate herself in interior design at university level. In June 1943 she stepped aboard the ship Brúarfoss, which made its way across the Atlantic Ocean, docking in New York. Travelling from Iceland to New York took a month, with a stop in …