Published March 12, 2016
The sixth annual DesignMarch has stormed into town, drawing local and foreign artists to the capital city to show their creations. The festival, organised by the Icelandic Design Centre, is now in its sixth year and runs until March 13. If you haven’t checked it out yet, it´s definitely a good idea to stop by at least one of the venues, to get those creative juices running into all corners of the house.
We visited one of these venues on Friday: the wide-windowed, Seltjarnes-situated Lækningaminjasafn Íslands. While many of the works shown there are textile-based, the building now houses jewelry, pillows, an organ, hanging textiles, lamps, birdhouses, even a greenhouse and kitchen garden .
While the weather changes from stormy to sunny, Þóra Björk Scham, a painter and textile designer, walks us through the venue´s various exhibits, explaining some of the concepts and materials behind them. Every piece has a story upon which Þóra is quick to elaborate. When I ask how she knows so much about the numerous individual exhibits, she cites the intimacy of Textílfélagið (the Icelandic Textile Guild), as well as past design marches in which she’s been exposed to works by these artists.
Like me, Þóra remains in awe of many of these pieces, as well as of their creators. Though all are certainly worthy of note, three pieces were particularly striking. Maria Sjöfn Dupuis Davíðsdóttir’s ‘Jökuljós’ or ‘Glacier Light’ shows the extent to which glaciers have diminished in past years, as it inscribes the current and former outlines of various glaciers on giant light bulbs, shining light through them to show the dramatic differences between the two. Ásta Vilhemína Guðmundsdæottir, a fashion designer, has created fabric lamps, ones that stretch from ceiling to floor in an eerie, mystic curtain of light. Brynja Guðnadóttir and her collaborator Grétar Guðmundsson were nominated for the Icelandic Innovation Award for their work in ‘Predictable Civil Disobedience,’ in which they combine science and design to grow sprouts in a hydrogel made from brown seaweed.
Also striking is Þóra’s own collaborative work with furniture designer Ólafur Þór Erlendsson, After meeting at a past DesignMarch, Ólafur and Þóra decided to collaborate, ultimately creating this year’s exhibition, called ‘Spot, Spot 2, and Spor’. The exhibit consists of furniture pieces designed by Ólafur, and topped with a carpet textile designed by Þóra.
The textiles draw inspiration from real-life Icelandic places. When a particular piece of flora or landscape catches Þóra’s eye, she snaps a photo of it and records its GPS location. Later, Þóra designs a carpet piece based on this photo, making her creations as intimate as they are beautiful. Þóra scrolls through the photos that inspired ‘Spot, Spot 2, and Spor’, noting the vibrant colours of Icelandic fauna, colours people often lose in the wide majesty of Icelandic wilderness.
Innovation & intimacy
In the future, Þóra and Ólafur plan to sell the stools and, with them, both the photo that inspired it all and the GPS point taken at that location. That way, the furniture forges a geographical connection, allowing furniture owners to visit and track the spot from which the idea for their stool, bench, or carpet sprung. While not all pieces are for sale, many artists seem willing and hopeful that their creations will become distinct assets in the home.
The concept behind and future hopes for Þóra and Ólafur´s creations highlights one of the best aspects of Iceland´s DesignMarch; that is, the mixture of innovation and intimacy, and the supportive, inspirational network that is popping up all over the country.
In March, it seems, this network grows a bit more quickly.
Read more of our DesignMarch coverage here.