8+8=8

Designers meet manufacturers in Halnarfjörður
26.9.2008
Words by Marcus Walsh
8 + 8 is a month long exhibition showcasing eight designers from Iceland and abroad, collaborating with eight manufacturers from Hafnarfjörður to create innovative products. The companies range from electric heating manufacturers to concrete constructionists, creating products from stoves to garden furniture.
    “The goal was to create a different view on industry and to create new potential for small companies. A deeper need is to bring more innovation into an industry that is underdeveloped, too few companies are exporting. Design products can have a new complexity. 8+8 is a little experiment to create a different vision,” says curator Hrafnkell Birgisson.
    A key objective for 8+8 is to enhance Hafnarfjörður´s reputation beyond the industrial connotations that it is generally renowned for. However, the town has a long history of aluminium and concrete production that was utilised in the creative process. Katrín Ólína worked with construction company Mest to design concrete garden furniture featuring two benches and a small stool.  “I used concrete, a very local and practical material to create a functional sitting area and then incorporated some playfulness into the stool,” she explains.
    This originality can raise the profile of the town beyond manufacturing sheer units, especially in the eyes of the curator Hrafnkell Birgisson: “Hafnarfjörður has to become known for original products and more than just elves and lava. After all, the project is ´Made In Hafnarfjörður´” Birgisson also points to the need to export ´Icelandic Design´ but is wary of the limitations of this used as an umbrella term. “We have to be careful not to define a culture by its design. There is no such national design and this is only good for marketing,” he commented.
    Icelandic designer Páll Einarsson described the struggle of working with the manufacturer when producing bedroom lights: “I was scared that the tooling was limited to straight lines and thin metals. The company (Flúrlampar) has never entered the domestic design field and has only created industrial sized lamps for shops and warehouses.” Einarsson´s creative flourish added aesthetic quality to the necessity for illumination: “We closed an aluminium sheet in a mould and fired it with a shotgun. It rips in a beautiful manner and can project the ripple onto a wall. The blast is a decorative feature and not always functional. It is very subtle.”
    Birgisson also commented on the unity of creativity and practicality as a whole in 8+8: “The mix of aesthetics and function should not be separated. It is important to integrate design more in innovation politics. You can call everything ‘innovation’. It is far too seldom combined with pure creativity in design and is too often to do with money making. True development must be explored first.” By combining their efforts in this pilot project, the designers can shy away from Scandinavian design assumptions and leave the stereotypes in the local Ikea.


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Open daily from 14:00 - 19:00
Weekends from: 12:00 - 17:00
Runs until October 5.

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