Since his graduation from the Iceland Academy of the Arts, where he studied product design, Björn Steinar Blumenstein has been working in Sjávarklasinn with a group of designers who call themselves Grænmetisráðuneytið (“the vegetable ministry”). They work hand in hand with vegetable farmers and local industries towards increasing the utilization of raw Icelandic materials. After the project finishes, Björn plans to travel abroad and further his produc design skills.
When did you start designing?
I once saw a guy shave a cactus in a contemporary art museum in Berlin and at that moment something inside of me clicked. I am quite practical by nature so I thought to myself, “How can I have that much fun at work but still make a living?” Soon after that I started designing stuff, absolute crap at first, and working towards the goal of getting into product design.
What is your creative process?
My process usually starts with a certain raw material or some kind of a problem, sometimes both. The first steps are usually random experiments, trying to get to know the material or analysing the problem. From then on the process can be quite painful, and I’ll refuse to stand up until I’ve made progress or developed a solid concept. It’s a fun struggle all the way to the end when everything usually falls into place and they live happily ever after.
What inspires you?
I’m probably most inspired when driving to Keflavík airport. I can never make it without stopping a hundred times to write some ideas down, I guess it has something to do with clearing my mind. Aside from the airport drive, pretty much everything can inspire me, if I’m ready to take it in. Good design, bad design, unusual possibilities and strange outcomes.
What is your favorite artwork, by you and/or another artist?
I own a hilarious vase by Hrafnkell Birgisson, which is absolutely adorable. It´s a ketchup bottle cut in two halves, the top turning upside down and the material casted to hold it all in place. My favorite work of my own is a made-in label for a can of Appelsín that I made in collaboration with Johanna Seelemann. It’s a 140 cm illustrated made-in label, tracing the aluminium from its source in Brazil and its extraordinary journey between continents to Reykjavík.
How is it being a designer in Iceland?
I´m very new to the field so I’ll find out soon enough. I feel like design culture is growing rapidly and it looks promising.
What do you wish to achieve through your work?
I want to take part in finding solutions for a world that’s constantly transforming. First and foremost I wish to have a strong voice. I want people to listen to me when I have something to say.
If I try to look far into the future I can see myself collaborating with other designers but for the time being I want to finish a few projects I’ve started before going abroad to do an internship.
Check out Björn’s website here.