From Iceland — The Reykjavík Grapevine Design Awards 2013

The Reykjavík Grapevine Design Awards 2013

Published March 1, 2013

...For Best Product, Product Line, Design Project, and Fashion Design of 2012

The Reykjavík Grapevine Design Awards 2013
Photo by
Alísa Kalyanova

...For Best Product, Product Line, Design Project, and Fashion Design of 2012

Now in their third year, The Grapevine Design Awards are bigger than ever. We once again rounded up a small panel of design experts and asked them to determine what was most cutting-edge in 2012. In addition to ‘Best Product,’ ‘Best Product Line,’ and ‘Best Design Project,’ the panel added a new category, ‘Best Fashion Design’ to the roster. Judging by the number of runners-up, it looks like it was a good year for Iceland’s growing design scene. Now without further ado, we present you the awards!

On The Panel:

Helgi Steinar Helgason, architect at the Iceland Design Centre

Sari Peltonen, contributing writer at The Reykjavík Grapevine

Rúna Thors, industrial designer and teacher at Iceland Academy of the Arts

Auður Karitas, managing director and stylist at Ari Magg

Hafsteinn Júlíusson, designer at HAF


Winner: Holster by Fur Trade 


holsterA unisex vest for carrying small items, Holster is the outcome of a cross-disciplinary collaboration between graphic designer Siggi Odds and fashion designer Bóas Kristjánsson. Made from leftover cuts of local high quality fish leather in Iceland, it promotes recycling and environmental values. It is high quality and genuinely functional—a practical new design solution to add to our work and travel wardrobes. We appreciate that the entire product is well thought-out from the craftsmanship to the retailer choices, brand development and communication. Holster suits many target groups—perhaps more than it is given credit for—men, women, craftsmen for carrying their essential tools as well as hipsters walking down Laugavegur with their iPhones and headsets. 

Runners-up: Prik by Brynjar Sigurðsson, Fifty by Dögg Guðmundsdóttir and Arnved Design Studio

Prik by Brynjar Sigurðsson

Prik by Brynjar Sigurðsson, an exhibition of wooden objects at SPARK Design Space, leans towards design as art—an example of how varied and wide the spectrum of Icelandic design is today. Beautiful development of original, visually interesting work with fishing ropes and old knots, Brynjar’s Prik has a strong connection to Icelandic culture. Brynjar is one of the most promising new names in Icelandic design.

Fifty by Dögg Guðmundsdóttir and Arnved Design Studio

A new take on the classic Flag Halyard chair (1950) by Hans Wegner, Fifty is aesthetically beautiful, comfortable and well suited to both indoors and outdoors use. Rope as material is used in a new, interesting way, and its design provides privacy in a subtle way. Being produced by Ligne Roset and receiving the Wallpaper Design Award are both notable achievements for an Icelandic designer. We admire Dögg’s long and successful career in furniture and product design.

We look forward to seeing more in 2013: Jónófón by Jón Helgi Hólmgeirsson 

Jónófón by Jón Helgi Hólmgeirsson

A graduation project by the young product designer Jón Helgi Hólmgeirsson, Jónófón is a flat pack carton-plywood-and-paper cup record player that you put together yourself. Fun, carry-with-you, affordable, DIY, it’s a great take on a classic product. We also appreciate the beautiful form language and the overall well-thought-out concept.


Winner: Cod II by Kría Jewelery

Cod II by Kría Jewelery

Cod II by Kría JeweleryCod II by Kría Jewelery (Jóhanna Methúsalemsdóttir) is a collection of jewelery inspired by cod bones. An interesting, beautiful new take on cod—the staple fish that kept the nation alive for centuries—the connection to local culture is strong. While the collection is strongly rooted in the local tradition and the form, language is almost poetical; it speaks to wide audiences both across cultures and sexes and is an economically successful product. 

The objects have great proportions and compositions and have an interesting relation to human body. Details are well considered and the use of two different metals, silver and brass, is clever. In addition to looking great, this also makes the items more affordable.  

Kría’s concept is strong and the story is good. The extended product, from marketing to packaging and distribution, is well done. 

Runners-up: STAKA, As We Grow


Is it an accessory? Is it jewelery? STAKA may lack definition but certainly doesn’t lack in originality. The collection of modern jewellery combines beautiful craftsmanship and local materials with modern technology, and is beautifully presented.

As We Grow

As We Grow is a sustainable, high quality children’s clothing label with beautifully designed items promoting a great thought: reusing and expanding the lifetime of children’s clothes—perfect for the most important people in the world. 


Winner: Torg Í Biðstöðu

Torg Í Biðstöðu

Torg Í BiðstöðuRun by the city, Torg Í Biðstöðu is a programme that makes use of various ‘meanwhile spaces’ in Reykjavík. It invites and funds enthusiastic creatives (not just design professionals) to reconsider their relationship to their surroundings.

Torg Í Biðstöðu has a great impact on the community, revealing how design and design thinking can change our society with little money and effort. While meanwhile projects take place in all big cities around the world, very few other capitals directly encourage and support it the way the City of Reykjavík does. It is also a clever path past the heavy, time-consuming city planning agenda in trying new things fast. We like the focus on “doing.” 

What Torg Í Biðstöðu may lack in professionalism (even if the 2012 programme was bigger, better, more professional and better run than the previous years’ programmes), it more than makes up for in the joy it brings to people working on things together and enjoying our city during the short Icelandic summer.

Runner-up: Life in the Vatnsmýri

Life in the Vatnsmýri

Another project that has to do with the urban environment, Life in the Vatnsmýri is a great example of how to use design to communicate complicated scientific concepts to a wide audience. Professionally designed by product designer Brynhildur Pálsdóttir, architect Magnea Guðmundsdóttir, graphic designers Ármann Agnarsson and Jónas Valtýsson, and a team of scientists, the project dealt with an interesting topic—the relationship between nature and city in a country where city dwelling is a relatively recent phenomenon. We were also impressed by the extensive nature school activities run by the Nordic House in connection to the exhibition and loved the holistic take on the ecosystem in the Vatnsmýri area.


Winner: Ostwald Helgason

Ostwald Helgason

Ostwald HelgasonWe have nothing but praise for Ostwald Helgason by couple Ingvar Helgason and Susan Ostwald. From the design of the clothing to the sales to the cat walk shows, the Icelandic-German label is run in an impressive and professional way.

Fresh and novel, Ostwald Helgason’s aesthetics don’t feel or look Icelandic in the traditional sense and lack obvious comparisons. Their silhouette, colour palette and playfulness sometimes resemble that of Helga Björnsson and Louis Féraud. The label is notable for its strong patterns and prints and both 2012 collections are holistic entities with their own stories and themes.

While many may be able to “do things right,” Ostwald Helgason has what only the very best in fashion (and any design, for that matter) possess—the magical appeal, the ‘pull factor’—all of us (well, except for Helgi perhaps) want to be the ‘Ostwald Helgason girls!”

The label has developed quickly, gaining international attention and success on a scale previously unseen in Iceland, which is something that the Icelandic design scene can be proud of and learn from. We, along with the rest of the fashion world, cannot wait to see where Ostwald Helgason will take us next.

Runners-up: Kron by KronKron, Mundi

Kron by KronKron

A label with a vibrant, fresh visual style and identity, you can spot a KronKron piece from a mile away. One of the cornerstones for the local design scene, their 2012 was strong and showed continued development. The label does a good job with communication and sales, and the collection features pieces that suit many body types.


Each Mundi collection is a holistic, well thought-out concept and the label has a strong identity—yet it caters to everybody from Ásgeir Trausti to our great aunt. The 2012 collections showed maturity in printing and excellent development in tailoring. We also appreciate that the items are made in Iceland.

We look forward to seeing more in 2013: Milla Snorrason

Milla Snorrason

Milla Snorrason has gone from socks and glasses to a mini collection of clothing that is quirky, original in its sense of aesthetics and high in quality with well thought-out details and excellent, sophisticated patterning inspired by Reykjavik!

On the cover photo:

Top row, from L to R: María Kristín Jónsdóttir & Bylgja Rún Svansdóttir, STAKA; Siggi Odds & Bóas Kristjánsson, Fur Trade; Hans Heiðar Tryggvason, Torg í Biðstöðu

Middle row, from L to R: Hilda Gunnarsdóttir, Milla Snorrason; Jón Helgi Hólmgeirsson, Jónófón

Bottom rom, from L to R: Guðrún Ragna Sigurjónsdóttir & María Ólafsdóttir, As We Grow; Magnea Gudmundsdóttir & Brynhildur Pálsdóttir, Life in the Vatnsmýri; Gréta Hlöðversdóttir, As We Grow

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