From Iceland — The Reykjavík Grapevine Design Awards 2018

The Reykjavík Grapevine Design Awards 2018

Published March 9, 2018

The Reykjavík Grapevine Design Awards 2018

Design, both consciously and unconsciously, penetrates our mind. Good design adds to the innate appreciation of an object while bad design can easily become an annoying earworm. Grapevine’s annual Design Awards seek to recognise and reward the best of design—the little notes that make the small things sweeter. Our painstakingly picked panel carefully combed through this years standouts to select for you a number of extremely worthy winners, runner-ups, and those we are excited to see more from. All are extremely spectacular and deserve to be celebrated. 

So, without further interruption, presenting: the Reykjavík Grapevine Design Awards 2018.

Fashion Design Of The Year

Geysir F/W 2017
Erna Einarsdóttir & Skugga-Sveinn

Designed in collaboration between Erna Einarsdóttir and Skugga-Sveinn, Geysir’s 2017 F/W collection was a clear standout in Icelandic fashion design. With a strong colour palette of deep red, dark blue, and white, the collection focused on fitted midi-dresses and loose wool co-ords with a mod nod, combining colour blocking and large plaids for a quaint and modern look with a decidedly Nordic twist. Geysir’s signature touch is that of clean designs with quality materials, luxurious but wearable, and this collection was no exception. Skugga-Steinn described that her inspiration for the line came from the everyday Icelandic woman and had a strong connection to Icelandic culture, both old and new. “The whole concept is very well executed from the collection itself to the presentation of the collection, to the marketing materials to the photographs,” the panel concluded. “Everything fits perfectly together.”


Erna Bergman

Iceland has always been characterised by its strong swimming culture. From bathings first written mention in the 12th century, going to the pool has become a piece of daily life here regardless of weather. In ‘Swimslow’, designer Erna Bergmann took this heritage and morphed it into a line of elegant, modern, and raw swimwear. From design to production, the collection focuses on minimising environmental impact and transparency. Each swimsuit is made entirely of sustainable materials like rugs and fishnets and aims to be neither too sporty nor too sexy. The silhouettes are classic—reminiscent of eras when swimwear was more utilitarian and tailored.

Looking Forward To:

Upp með sokkana
Tanja Levý & Loji Höskuldsson

While watching the opening ceremony of the most recent Olympic Games, Tanja Levý and Loji Höskuldsson noticed that while the other national teams walked out in fancy outfits, the Icelandic team wore but tracksuits. In response to this horror, the two decided to design a collection of sportswear that spoke to the Icelandic ethos. The line itself breaks down the barrier between arts and athletics, creating pieces that integrate artistic elements with functionality. For example, one jacket boasts the arrows you’d find on the wind forecast—a necessity considering Icelandic weather—but also reflective material, so you can run at night. “Tanja and Loji broke down preconceived notions of design.” The panel said. “They intertwined Icelandic culture with a sense of humour.”

Product Of The Year

Genki instruments

Genki Instruments ‘Wave’ is a wearable MIDI controller that allows a musician to control sound with only a hand motion. Created as a collaboration between Ólafur Bjarki Bogason, Daníel Grétarsson, Jón Helgi Hólmgeirsson, and Haraldur Hugosson, the device resembles a small ring and is commanded by a series of small tilts, pans, rolls, taps, and clicks. The panel determined that the nuance and non-intrusiveness of the tool innovates the musical process, allowing artists to make quick decisions previously unavailable. It also allows a musician to actively engage with their audience—triggering a sample or controlling effects effortlessly based on the reaction of the crowd. “The way they have integrated design with the technological process is a good example of what design can do,” the panel said. “They designed an experience.” The project was crowdfunded by an IndieGoGo and debuted on March 6th.


ÖK Hull

“It’s an ambitious project,” the panel said of ‘ÖK Hull’, a revolutionary redesign of a boat hull-and-keel made by Rafnar. “It might fully change the way boats are made.” The invention, created by Össur Kristinsson, reformed the concept of the hull by taking into account Ljungström’s arc-of-circle radius which transitioned the pivot point from the stern to the hull’s centre. Compared to previous designs, Össur’s creation is superior in both energy efficiency, speed, and safety. ‘ÖK Hull’ was recently implemented by the Icelandic Coast Guard as well as the rescue team in Fáskrúðsfjörður and Rafnar is currently working on partnership agreements with maritime companies in both the United States and Canada.

Project Of The Year

Lava Centre

Located about an hour away from Reykjavík on the oft-travelled Route One, the Hvolsvöllur Lava Centre gives visitors a crash-course in seismic activity and volcanology. Volcanoes are integral to Iceland’s history. Not only did they quite literally shape the island’s landmass, but they have also fundamentally affected the Icelandic ethos. Icelanders live their lives knowing that the huge power of the living earth could sweep away roads, power lines, and entire towns at frighteningly short notice. Here, a wide range of information about this vast force of nature is revealed through a series of impressive spaces, all eye-catching and loaded with interesting facts. From a highly Instagrammable corridor with a glowing relief of Iceland on the left wall, you arrive in a spacious hall with interactive wall displays: point your hand at a hot spot, and an information box will magically open up. Through a dark, loud, vibrating hallway, there’s a huge room with a large-scale sculptural representation of the tectonic rift that lies below Iceland, followed by a room of immersive floor-to-ceiling video displays that show volcanic eruptions in action, from the first distant plume of smoke to the ash storm that follows. The whole experience is sensual, informative, slick, and fascinating.


The Marshall House
Kurt gg Pí

The large white building at Grandargarður 20 used to be a herring factory and still carries that legacy today. There are several tall spaces that cut through the building’s four floors, originally built for fish processing silos; the accompanying windows are tall, designed to break outwards in case of an explosion. This year, a ground-up renovation of this iconic disused structure was finished, and it was re-christened The Marshall House. The space now feels every bit the minimal, modern art museum, with brushed steel and white walls as far as the eye can see. It contains Ólafur Elíasson’s workshop and showroom, the ever-lively Kling & Bang Gallery, the fascinating Living Art Museum, and the acclaimed Marshall House Bar + Restaurant. “It’s a successful rebuild, and one that is made to last,” the panel said. “The Marshall House is going to impact Reykjavík’s culture and society for years to come.”

Looking Forward To:

‘Sweet Salone’
The Aurora Foundation

While Sierra Leone has always possessed a rich history of craft making, their design scene is unfortunately still very much in its infancy. To spur development, the Aurora Foundation formed a cooperative partnership between Sierra Leonean and Icelandic designers. Working together, As We Grow, Kron by KronKron, and 1+1+1 presented a line of products made with and by Sierra Leonean artisans, approaching their work with sensitivity to Sierra Leone’s existing artistic traditions, current technical know-how, and the materials available. The results were not only attractive but also ensured longevity in their creative partnership. “It’s a very interesting way of introducing new products to Icelandic consumers while also hopefully doing something good for the world in the process,” the panel concluded. “Giving people work and fair pay.”

Product Line Of The Year

Ragna Ragnarsdóttir

‘MAIN D’ŒUVRE’ sought to create a process where production became an integral part of the design itself. In contrast to the normal methods of creation—where blueprints are sent to manufacturing companies or craftsmen—Ragna wanted to take the paper itself and export that into a three-dimensional process. Using latex, water-based resin and MDF wood, Ragna’s creations include everything from raised bowls to a mirror to a bench. With bright colours intersecting in the bright resin, the pieces have a whimsical feel, but still, one that, when dove into, is both mathematical and improvisational in its process. The structure of the objects was determined solely by their base and composed of overlays of discs in black MDF tinted in the mass. The number of feet depended only on needed stability. When the molds were filled with resin, the contours often deformed under the pressure which caused unexpected bulges. “It’s an original way to work with materials.” The panel determined.


Partus Press

Partus Press was named runner-up for their inventive, distinctive, and beautiful book covers. The independent publisher is the largest publisher of poetry in the country, best known for promoting the best of the best of up-and-coming Icelandic authors. Their Meðgönguljóð series spans from 2012 to the present, with not only strong writing but book covers that compliment. The images are strong but clean, creating visual works that viscerally bring the reader into the prose, allowing them to—quite frankly—judge a book by its cover. It’s an impressive collection,” the panel said. “It’s impressive to work with such a strong concept.”

Looking Forward To:

Usee Blankets

Halla Hákonardóttir and Helga Kjerúlf’s Usee Studios is based on the idea of conscious consumption. Sustainability, eco-friendliness, and the reusability of old things stand up equally important next to creating, as they say, “good things and crazy good vibes.” Their recently released collection of blankets present a series of abstract female nudes with objects like palm trees and fans complimenting them. “It’s feministic, as in feminist, that they have these prints and work with clothes that would otherwise be disregarded,” the panel agreed. “They are re-using and making new.”

Thanks To Our Panel: 

Ellen Loftsdóttir, Stylist and Creative Director.
Rúna Thors, Product designer, on behalf of the Iceland University of the Arts.
Valur GrettissonEditor-in-chief, panel director on behalf of Reykjavík Grapevine.
Rúnar ÓmarssonCCC “Consultant For Creative Companies, chairman of the panel.
María Kristín JónsdóttirEditor-in-chief of HA design magazine, panel director
on behalf of Iceland Design Centre.  

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