Published March 18, 2016
At a DesignMarch event held at the Presidential residence of Bessastaðir last weekend, the President addressed a throng of local and international artists and designers to offer his take on Icelandic innovation. From music to film, and from business to politics, his remarks included a wide-ranging appreciation of Iceland’s innovators including, perhaps surprisingly, The Pirate Party.
“It’s hard to pinpoint how such a small country can be so active,” said Ólafur, “in fields such as design, culture, literature, music, theatre, films, science, business, politics… you won’t find another European country where The Pirate Party has one third of the opinion polls.”
He went on to say:
“It’s difficult to pinpoint an area of our multicultural society which is stale, where nothing really happens. Even if I’ve had the responsibility of trying to explain this for a number of years, I’ve never really found the core of it. Maybe those of you who come from other countries for DesignMarch can help us to find the key.”
“But also we should send the message to other countries that inside the communities and nations and regions, there is an untouched reservoir of creative talent. I don’t accept, fundamentally, that we are somehow so special that this creative force can only be explained by the genetic pool, or our unique battle with our glaciers and volcanoes.”
“Imagine if all nations across Asia, Africa, and the Americas, in communities large and small, from 300,000 to 3 million saw it as their vision to make a big contribution in all of those areas—couldn’t it be a completely different world.”
“We are willing to test the limits of what can be done, and what is accepted. A few days ago I was present at an awards ceremony when the design award was given to some guys who have made insects into food. We have 9 billion people in the world, and one of the key solutions to food security and hunger in the world is that we start looking at the insects in a new way. There’s a fundamental challenge in the world regarding health and poverty, and it took the design people to put it on the map in this way. It underlines that there are no longer any boundaries to where design can go.”