From Iceland — Flétta Design Studio Turns The Mundane Into Beauty

Flétta Design Studio Turns The Mundane Into Beauty

Published April 15, 2019

Flétta Design Studio Turns The Mundane Into Beauty
Hannah Jane Cohen
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Flétta Design Studio is a little over one year old, but has already received more attention and acclaim than many studios achieve in a decade. The duo behind Flétta—Birta Rós Brynjólfsdóttir and Hrefna Sigurðardóttir—take materials that would normally accumulate dust on shelves or in drawers and turn them into treasures.

And a candlestick maker

The two met in design school, and started collaborating in 2014. Their first work involved mapping thrown away and recycled materials from manufacturing projects around the city. It was a match made in heaven, they explain, that eventually evolved into Flétta.

In early 2018, the studio released their debut project, ‘Mínútustjakar,’ which recently won Product Of The Year at the 2019 Reykjavík Grapevine Design Awards. The studio created a series of candlesticks, each made by hand in just one minute. In doing so, they blurred the lines between hand-made and mass-produced, critiquing modern industrial society in a playful way. The panel determining the awards called it, “unique and cost-effective,” and “bullseye when it comes to what people will pay for things.”

Finally a trophy

Their next effort was an open studio at Ásmundarsalur entitled ‘Trophy,’ where the duo spent a month publicly dismantling and repurposing trophies. The results of their labour were then presented as part of DesignMarch.

“A trophy is a tricky object,” Birta explains as she sits surrounded by stacks of marble bases and hundreds of golden plastic goblets. “It’s an illusion of a value that doesn’t really have any itself. It’s mainly plastic in reality.” Hrefna nods in agreement. She’s heavily pregnant, only days away from giving birth. “We’ve never won a trophy in our lives,” she says, laughing. “So they’re strange to us. By taking them apart, we thought about all the feelings behind them—what it means to people to receive these objects and that, even though they represent something, they still gave them to us to dismantle.”

Screws to figurines

The trophies were donated by the dozens from sports clubs around the country, and also given personally from numerous families and athletes. They run the gamut from national golf championships to participation awards at equestrian tournaments.

After breaking them apart piece by piece, from the screws to the figurines, Birta and Hrefna transform them into everything from delicate hanging lights to ornate end tables. They’re beautiful in an almost Rococo way, going far beyond being just a symbol of the ideology of the project into gorgeous design objects in their own right. At the same time, they collaborated on a series of denim rugs made out of recycled jeans from the Red Cross along with fashion designer Steinunn Eyja Halldórsdottir.

Value in the forgotten

This focus on using thrown away and recycled materials is at the heart of Flétta’s work. “It’s an ongoing theme,” says Birta. “There is something wholly different that comes out when you start not with a blank canvas. You have to design something out of something that is already something.”

Their Trophy exhibit was only step one in a longer endeavour, they explain. They’ll continue to collect and remake. “We give objects a role and purpose,” Hrefna emphasises. “By putting them into a new context, we find new materiality.” Birta nods. “We’re creating new meaning.”

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