From Iceland — Bad Business Makes For Great Art

Bad Business Makes For Great Art

Bad Business Makes For Great Art

Published March 1, 2013

Once again we’ve dedicated our third issue of the year to the annual DesignMarch festival. Once again we’ve created a special pull-out with lots of design-related stuff including our annual Design Awards. And once again we’ve relinquished control of our cover to the designers behind the festival identity.

This time around, those designers are Jónas Valtýsson and Ármann Agnarsson (psst, they’re the guys on our cover) and to represent the festival’s identity they made these huge wooden letters that spell out HÖNNUNARMARS (“DESIGNMARCH”). But they’re not just ordinary wooden letters, of course. The graphic designers collaborated with four designers from various disciplines, a decision they told us was key to creating something that could represent all design.

And it’s this push to unite all design—from graphic designers to fashion designers to architects—that seems to stand out this year more than in past years. When I stopped by the Iceland Design Centre a few weeks before print, Director Halla Helgadóttir was getting ready to send off a proposal for the nation’s first ever design policy, a comprehensive vision for the scene as a whole.

Despite this push to unite, however, Iceland’s design scene is still young, still finding its roots and, as Halla noted, still benefiting from a lack of tradition. “We have this uninhibited power, you could call it naiveté. We’re not weighed down by knowledge of what you can and cannot do,” she explained. “And everybody knows everybody. If you see a celebrity in Iceland, you’re probably somehow related to that person or you know them. It feels like it could be you. We all think, ‘it could be me.’”

And perhaps it’s this trait, the same one that led Icelanders to think they could be the greatest bankers in the world, despite the fact that they didn’t have a banking tradition, that is now guiding Iceland’s burgeoning design scene, which is full of individuals who are all confident that they can make it big. So it seems, as Halla said, that this grandiose thinking, which might be our greatest weakness, might also just be our greatest strength.

At least the DesignMarch festival is bigger than ever this year and the panel of experts who we got to pick this year’s crop of Grapevine Design Award winners decided to make the awards bigger than ever, too.
Turn to our special DesignMarch pullout inside to read more.

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