Published March 17, 2014
For our fourth annual Design Awards, we once again rounded up a small panel of design-savvy folks to help us determine what was most cutting-edge in 2013. The following are the results: winners and runners-up in each of the four categories as well as designers whose projects this year bode for even more exciting work in the future. Well done, all of you!
PROJECT OF THE YEAR
Story Delicious, A “Food Experience”
Created By Kristín María Sigþórsdóttir, Tinna Ottesen, and Gerður Jónsdóttir
This year’s winning project actually debuted at DesignMarch last year. “Eins og i sögu” or “Story Delicious,” as it was called in English, was a full sensory experience, a three course meal which unfolded as a site-specific narrative staged at Reykjavík’s Culture House. The result of a collaboration between experience designer Kristín María Sigþórsdóttir, production designer Tinna Ottesen, and radio producer Gerður Jónsdóttir, Story Delicious invited guests on an “interactive journey, where a story unfolds with every bite.” Blending, among other things, the aesthetics of pagan folklore with crocheted tablecloths, silver candelabras, and even an edible wall of meringues, the designers transformed the Culture House’s rather industrial basement into a series of elegant and richly imagined “chapters.” There was also an element of social engagement, wherein guests, served communally or in unexpected presentations—such as tall kebabs staked at the end of tables—were encouraged to “share and help each other figure out how to approach the meal,” Kristín María says. Several of our panelists who attended the event praised it for exemplifying “real food culture in Iceland,” for its minute attention to detail, and for its communal atmosphere. Not just a meal, it was “an event in and of itself,” someone commented. “I felt like I had arrived somewhere abroad.”
Created By Brandenburg
Last year, the ad agency Brandenburg was hired to find unique ways to promote Cancer Awareness Month in Iceland, a project they approached with considerable creativity. To start with, the company commissioned 50,000 specially-made jewelry ribbons, and also hosted a celebrity auction for which artists, public figures, and politicians were invited to donate special goods and services. (Hugleikur Dagson drew a unique pink comic for the cause and Of Monsters and Men’s Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir auctioned a guitar, for instance.) To crown their efforts, Brandenburg asked the women’s basketball team Valur and the Seltjarnarnes rescue team to assist in the creation of (what they claim is) the world’s largest pink ribbon created to raise awareness for breast cancer—an undertaking which required 500 litres of pink paint spread over a ribbon-shaped highway overpass: roughly 1,600 square metres of asphalt. Panelists praised Brandenburg for working with a wide variety of individuals and organisations on the project, for coming up with a unique approach that was both inexpensive and environmentally-friendly, and for putting a new spin on the typical pink ribbon initiatives.
The Silent Village Collection
Created By Brynjar Sigurðarson
In order to complete his diploma project at the Iceland Academy of the Arts in 2008, Brynjar Sigurðarson wanted to “go to a different environment and make something,” but he wasn’t sure just where to go—or what, even, he wanted to make. That’s when his father, a coastal engineer, suggested Vopnafjörður, a fishing village of roughly 600 people “at the deepest end of a fjord” in Northeast Iceland. In the village, Brynjar chatted with local knitters, visited a mink farm, and hung around with old-timers at the harbour, eventually meeting Hreinn, a retired shark hunter who taught him rope lashing, a method used to make fishing nets. Inspired by both the beauty and the practicality of the technique, Brynjar created ‘The Silent Village,’ a furniture collection which was exhibited at the prestigious Galerie Kreo in Paris. All of the collection’s one-off objects—including tables, mirrors and bookshelves—incorporate ropes, fur, fishing hooks and lures which he sourced from Vopnafjörður. While perhaps not suited for every living room, the panelists appreciated ‘The Silent Village’ for its uniqueness. “It’s especially strong because it’s so different,” one panellist noted. “It’s not something that one sees elsewhere.”
We Look Forward To More In 2014
Created By Sigríður Rún Kristinsdóttir
Originally created for Sigríður’s graphic design graduation project for the Iceland Academy of the Arts, ‘Líffærafræði letursins’ or ‘The Anatomy of Letters,’ has by all accounts impressed viewers all over Reykjavík during its run at the Spark Design Space. For the project, Sigríður brought every letter in the Icelandic alphabet to life, drawing them as unique skeletons, each with reference to the bone structures of ancient lizards and birds. The panel agreed that this project is probably most intriguing to graphic design nerds, but were happy to see that something so niche could appeal to the general public.
PRODUCT LINE OF THE YEAR
Created By Sigga Heimis
This collection of superbly crafted glass organs was created in collaboration with the Vitra Design Museum with the hope of raising awareness about organ donation. It’s a simple, but clever metaphor: the delicate, transparent material reminds viewers of the fragility, vulnerability, and ultimately, frailty, of their own bodies. The brain piece is particularly dramatic with its transparent peel covering the pale-coloured flesh, reflecting the light in striking ways. One of the panelists found Glerlíffæri “totally genius,” and everyone agreed that the line’s strong concept and mission would help it grow in the future.
As We Grow Clothing Line
Created By Gréta Hlöðversdóttir, María Th. Ólafsdóttir and Guðrún Ragna Sigurjónsdóttir
Favouring timeless styles and made with soft all-natural materials, the As We Grow children’s clothing label drew its inspiration from a beloved sweater that was for years passed among the designers’ children—boys and girls of different ages living in three different countries. So too are the simple and cosy cardigans, sweaters, tunics, leggings, vests, scarves, and mittens designed to last and be loved by children for generations, perhaps. Most of the items are made from 100% BSCI certified Peruvian alpaca wool with classic knit patterns and earthy colors ranging from mossy green and tomato red to camel, navy, gray and ivory. “This is a product that works,” the panellists conclude. “It embodies good quality and design that lasts as the kids grow.”
IIIF Accessory lines
Created By Agla Stefánsdóttir, Sigrún Halla Unnarsdóttir and Thibaut Allgayer
IIIF is a collective of two Icelandic fashion designers and a French industrial designer who collaborate on several lines of products, accessories and clothing. One of their fundamental principles is that “less is more” and their collections’ clean lines clearly exemplify this approach. A simultaneous versatility and durability make the backpack/tote in blue reindeer leather and canvas a stand-out item, while the pendants fashioned with reindeer bones and delicate chains encompass both daintiness and an almost folkloric vitality. Several panelists were taken with the prettiness and precision of these pieces, while others commented that they also have the potential for commercial success with a wide audience.
We Look Forward To More In 2014
Whale and Reindeerbone Jewelry
Created By Fiona Cribben
This Irish designer uses whale teeth and reindeer bones to bring novelty and distinction to her tribal collection. Her designs transfigure these traditional materials, giving them a strong, urban vibe. The jewels, mounted with fine metals, exude class, while the use of bones and sharp points also evokes a punk rawness. The panelists were interested to see a foreigner’s creative take on traditional Icelandic materials.
Iceland Seen Through Foreign Eyes
Created By Karin Kurzmeyer
“Iceland seen through foreign eyes” is an illustrated collection of quirky factoids about Iceland as interpreted by Swiss artist Karin Kurzmeyer and her Estonian colleague Piret Uustal. “Cats rule the town” is only one of the many idiosyncratic observations about life in Iceland which they’ve brought to life on paper. Their visual puns also play on the giant wheels that are typical of so many Icelandic vehicles, as well as Icelanders’ rather flexible definition of punctuality. Karin’s previous series of postcards and drawings, “Very serious pictures from Iceland,” were the first product launched by design store Hundahólmi in 2012, many of which are still available as t-shirts or cleaning cloths for glasses and iPhone screens. With this new collection, which is very likely to be purchased as a travel memento, the panel thought that Hundahólmi had elevated the typical Icelandic souvenir to something with much more quality and substance than say, a stuffed puffin.
PRODUCT OF THE YEAR
Created By Þórunn Árnadóttir and Daniel Koval
The PyroPet by Þórunn Árnadóttir and Daniel Koval might look like a cute little kisa (kitty), but it’s got hidden bite. Starting as an innocent pink or grey kitten candle, once lit, The PyroPet (originally known as “The Devil’s Pet”), melts slowly to reveal a fanged, skeletal beast within. The product was creative, the panel agreed, but not ‘too arty,’ and also has demonstrated that it has significant commercial appeal. In fact, Þórunn and Dan crowdsourced all of the money needed to launch this product in just a few days. The panelists admired the creators’ ability to turn an everyday item into something new. “A candle,” one laughed. “Nobody thought you could do anything else with a candle.”
Created By Rúna Thors and Hildur Steinþórsdóttir
Klettur is a practical outdoor bench which takes inspiration and design considerations from textile patterns, Icelandic nature, and ergonomics. Inspired to create a piece of affordable and sturdy “urban furniture,” architect Hildur Steinþórsdóttir and product designer Rúna Thors focused on creating a piece that could withstand all types of weather and would also be difficult for vandals—or a particularly strong Icelandic wind—to move. Klettur is cast in one piece, creating smooth planes which prevent rainwater accumulation. You might not think of concrete as not the most comfortable material to sit on, but the design team referred to the expertise of physiotherapist Arna Steinarsdóttir in order to allow for two equally ergonomic seating possibilities.
Hyrna Coffee Tables
Created By Erla Sólveig Óskarsdóttir
Erla Sólveig Óskarsdóttir is one of Iceland’s preeminent furniture designers, and her multi-level pyramid-shaped Hyrna coffee tables are an excellent representation of her functional, simple, and stylish home designs. The tables are made entirely of oak (no screws!) and were designed to be easily pulled over one’s lap while sitting on the couch or pushed to the side as needed. The smaller table conveniently nests under the taller one, making for an elegant storage solution as well. In addition to this honourable mention, Erla’s work has won numerous awards both in Iceland and abroad, such as Iceland’s Design of the Year award in 1999 and the German design company iF’s Product Design Award in 2010.
We Look Forward To More In 2014
Created By Guðrún Vald
Taking its name from the Keilir mountain, Keilir is a conical candlestick made of mahogany wood and hand-painted in bright pastel colors. The piece is the latest brainchild of Guðrún Valdimarsdóttir, who graduated with a BA in product design from the Icelandic Academy of the Arts in 2009 and has been developing her own product line ever since. These candlesticks, like all of Guðrún’s designs, aim to outlast changing trends while also incorporating locally-produced and environmentally-friendly materials.
Outdoor Bench Design
Created By Dagný Bjarnadóttir and Hildur Gunnarsdóttir
Landscape architects Dagný Bjarnadóttir and architect Hildur Gunnarsdóttir caught our panel’s attention with their progressive community project. Sourcing local Alaskan Asp from Grímsnes that might otherwise have been turned into wood chips, the two architects designed outdoor benches that inmates serving time at Litla Hraun maximum security prison manufactured. Part of the future proceeds are meant to go into a fund that supports the children of inmates.
FASHION DESIGN OF THE YEAR
Created By Guðmundur Jörundsson
2013 was quite the busy year at JÖR by Guðmundur Jörundsson, the recipient of this year’s Fashion Design of the Year Award. The introduction of womenswear as part of the label’s 2013 Autumn/Winter collection expanded its vocabulary, much to the delight of JÖR’s many fans. Guðmundur also opened his flagship store on Laugavegur where strong modern women and progressive dandies can find all they dream of, from socks to shirts to watches. The two 2013 collections revisited the men’s suit, the genre’s most iconic outfit, by deconstructing and reassembling it in daring ways for both sexes. These are versatile—even less fashion conscious folks can be comfortable wearing the designs, which tastefully incorporate dashes of colour and geometrical patterns. This fresh dialogue between feminine fluidity and masculine structures is one that speaks to modern fashionistas. Our panelists agreed that Guðmundur admirably walks the fine line between commercial and editorial.
Created By Magnea Einarsdóttir
This inspired designer gives a contemporary urban twist to the Icelandic folk wardrobe by mixing ever-popular organic yarns with surprising modern materials like rubber. “Magnea has a unique vision,” one of our panellists noted. The craftsmanslike nonchalance of her creations fit differently on the body than other local brands. Magnea’s fondness for cosy handmade knitwear is unmistakable and infectious: the pieces you acquire will carry you through the seasons of your life.
Farmers Market is a captivating label for the more trendalicious knitwear seeker. The guiding vision is to create traditionally-styled pieces which will keep you warm under any circumstances without sacrificing style. They’ve been around for some years already, and are not afraid of renewal and have introduced merino wool to their collections as an alternative to traditional lopi. You’ll spot their products on the most fashion-savvy Reykjavíkingur any day of the year. “This is the Ralph Lauren of Iceland,” as one of our panellists noted.
We Look Forward To More In 2014
Created By Sif Baldursdóttir
This designer started her label just over a year ago and focuses on rare weightless fabrics like silk, bamboo and mohair, giving her own refreshing and relevant take on loose silhouettes. The garment’s lightness is perfect for the on-going trend of layering. One of our panellists remarked that Kyrja is “hitting all the right notes” and has a unique stance in Icelandic fashion, an advantage stemming from her Italian schooling.
Created By Erna Einarsdóttir
Erna has been praised since her beginnings by the likes of Vogue and i-D for her chic, modern and feminine usage of knitwear. Our panellists agree that her designs at Geysir take wool to a new place, fit all ages and are popular as well as creative.
On The Panel:
Helgi Steinar Helgason,
architect, panel director on behalf of Grapevine
architect, on behalf of the Iceland Design Centre
product designer, on behalf of the Iceland Academy of the Arts
Tinna Brá Baldvinsdóttir,
owner of Hrím design store, on behalf of design retailers in Reykjavík
fashion desginer, on behalf of the Association of Icelandic Fashion Designers
Þórey Eva Einarsdóttir,
managing director of thez Reykjavík Fashion Festival
Kjartan Páll Eyjólfsson,
director of Epal design store, on behalf of design retailers in Reykjavík
Products eligible for the awards must have been introduced in 2013. A product is a real, tangible thing. Fashion does not qualify as a product, though it can qualify as a product line. A separate fashion award is also awarded.