Published March 15, 2011
Vík Prjónsdóttir was born in 2005, the brainchild of five Icelandic designers in collaboration with Víkurprjón, the knitting factory where their brilliant woollen knits come to life. Today, Brynhildur Pálsdóttir, Guðfinna Mjöll Magnúsdóttir and Þuríður Sigurþórsdóttir are the three designers behind the brand being awarded Grapevine’s “Product Line of 2010 Award.”
“We talk about Vík Prjónsdóttir as a person,” says Guðfinna. “She has travelled and experienced much in the last five years, gaining inspiration from not just the area around the factory in Vík, but also from around the world. She is very curious. Wherever she goes, she is always investigating the things that she finds interesting.” This maturity and acquired worldliness that Guðfinna speaks of is evident in the new product line of blankets. Guðfinna and team knit stories into each of their products based on a combination of inspirations taken from books, cities, nature and their own stories.
“We find a way to transfer the stories into our blankets,” Guðfinna explains. “For instance, the blanket called, ‘The Hidden World,’ is inspired by Alaskan shamanism. The division of colour is meant to represent the natural and spiritual worlds, as well as the human and animal worlds. It is dedicated to people who bridge these two worlds, like the Alaskan shaman, whose large healing hands are represented on the blanket.”
In addition to the five blankets, their product line now includes scarves for the first time. The first one, called ‘The Healing Hands,’ comes from the hands of the Alaskan shaman on ‘The Hidden World’ blanket. Vík Prjónsdóttir was fascinated by the shaman costume and his hands that heal and drive out evil spirits. The second one, called ‘The Wing,’ comes from the ‘Shield of Wings’ blanket and is inspired by the Sea Eagle, which boasts a wingspan up to 2,5 metres. Wearing the wing is supposed to put you under the eagle’s protection.
‘The Wing’ scarf will make its public debut during DesignMarch. In an exclusive four-day event, Vík Prjónsdóttir will lug its sewing machines from Vík and set up factory on Laugavegur. The designers along with the craftsmen from the factory will be there running the show. And it will be possible to watch the making of the scarves, which will then be available for purchase, “straight of the press,” as Guðfinna says.
Part of the reason they want to spotlight the factory and the production process is because Vík Prjónsdóttir and Víkurprjón, the factory, feel very honoured to have received the Innovation award from the Association of Craftsmen in Reykjavík last month.
“Even though the products are knitted in machines, there are so many hands behind it because everything is hand cut out and sewn by someone who is controlling the sewing machine,” Guðfinna explains. “You don’t just put the factory on play and out comes the product. So we want this to be a live action event with all the steam and sweat, as if it were the real factory.”
But it also has to do with Vík Prjónsdóttir’s values of transparency and honesty towards the production. “It’s all about traceability,” Guðfinna says. “It’s important for consumers to think about the origin of products and how they are made. As a consumer you make a choice every time you decide to buy something as to what kind of production you support. One has to think ‘What kind of consumer do I want to be?’”
Admittedly Guðfinna says she can’t place everything she owns, but emphasises that the change must start with awareness. “If we ever want to change human rights, it has to start with consumers. And as a designer making new products, it’s very important to decide where you want to stand.”
“More adventures both here and abroad, but also some practical stuff. At the moment we are working a lot on Vík Prjónsdóttir’s infrastructure, strengthening and supporting her for the next steps. We are also working on our online shop that we will hopefully launch in the spring.”
Brynhildur Pálsdóttir and Guðfinna Mjöll Magnúsdóttir are also the design directors for the project, Farmers and Designers, which will be introduced at Design March. They will be giving a talk about that project at the Nordic House on March 25 at 9:00.