From Iceland — The Reykjavík Grapevine Design Awards 2017

The Reykjavík Grapevine Design Awards 2017

Published March 24, 2017

Hannah Jane Cohen
Photo by
Art Bicnick

2016 could easily be called the year of Icelandic design. With so many spectacular new products and projects on display, the competition for this year’s Design Awards was fierce. Our panel—a carefully curated quintet of Icelandic design experts and tastemakers—spent months combing through the scene in order to determine the winners. The winners are extremely worthy, but all of the competitors were spectacular—you should be sure to also check out the runners up and honorable mentions. So, without further ado, here it is: the Grapevine Design Awards 2017.

Fashion Design Of The Year

Autumn/Winter 2016 Collection
Created by Eygló

Eygló isn’t afraid to be bold or unpredictable, finding inspiration in everything from dinosaurs to the surface of Mars. “Her collections are never the same,” the judges determined. “She just isn’t afraid to take chances and be risky.” Eygló’s pieces—wholly created from silk and natural fibers—revolve around unusual textiles. The Autumn/Winter collection is chock full of them, with eye-catching patterns gracing fitted midi dresses and loose shifts. Some standouts include a lime green 3/4 sleeved dress with an outlined gun printed on the front, and spiked fabric coming out of the sleeves with a matching leather clutch. That said, Eygló is way more than just plain spectacle—the A/W collection also contains full color fitted muted pieces. Nuanced but still unique, her turtlenecked midis reveal a deep understanding of proportion and the human body. Eygló has consistently shown herself as more than a one-note artist, and her future is looking as bright as her dresses. If you want to check out the collection in person, head over to Kiosk at their new Miðstræti 12 location.

Runners Up

Created by Milla Snorrason

VonduGil is the work of designer Milla Snorrason, and her newest line was inspired by rock formations. “It is a very ambitious line,” said the judges, “that was beautiful, high quality, and abstract.” Containing everything from suits to button-ups to a 50s-style silk dress, Milla’s work has a sophisticated aesthetic. It’s subtle workwear—the kind of pieces you’ll think of long after you see them. Find them at Kiosk at Miðstræti 12 and Kraum at Laugavegur 18.

Looking Forward To Seeing More From:

Guðrún Helga Kristjánsdóttir

Guðrún Helga only graduated from the Iceland Academy of the Arts this spring, but she immediately put out a complete line of luxurious outerwear and followed it up with a pop-up shop at Nord 11. Guðrún employs a lot of textures—she uses suede, fur, silk with rough zippers and visible seams. “The line is incredibly ambitious,” one judge said. “It’s high fashion but still representative of the Icelandic fashion environment.”

Product Of The Year

Andlit Norðursins (Special 2016 Edition)
Created by Ragnar Axelsson and Einar Geir Ingvarsson

“‘Andlit Norðursins II’ is about a topic that really matters: a culture and landscape that is disappearing before our eyes,” said the panel. The photography book focuses on documenting Greenland, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands, specifically focusing on daily life and culture. The original ‘Andlit Norðursins’ book came out in 2004, but in 2016, Ragnar released a special edition with three times as many photos. He added a “Behind the faces” section to each country, outlining the subjects and places of each picture, presented with his written diaries. “The whole execution of the book is top-notch,” remarked one panellist. “It was done beautifully.” ‘Andlit Norðursins’ can be found at bookstores around Reykjavík and also online.

Looking Forward To Seeing More From:

Ground Up II
Created by Theodora Alfredsdottir

The mineral feldspar makes up 60% of the Earth’s crust, and is a key ingredient in many domestic objects. This obscure fact provided the inspiration for Theodora Alfredsdottir’s dining set, From the Group Up II. While it is technically a product line comprising plates, bowls, etcetera, the focus on substance and material made the panel consider it as a singular product. “There is a beautiful thought behind Theodora’s work,” they remarked. “People have grown disconnected from where material resources originate, but to be acutely aware of the transformation of the material from its natural state until it sits at your table is fascinating.” They also noted that due to Iceland’s environment, rocks hold an unusually compelling spiritual relationship to the country.

Special Mention


Flothetta is a swimming cap designed to allow the user to float effortlessly. Released in 2011, it has since become a phenomenon—taken up by fifteen swimming pools around Iceland and used in special health get-togethers. “We like the fact that it is rooted in the old hot tub bathing culture of Iceland,” one panellist said. “It has opened up a new world of meditation, relaxation, wellness, and experiencing nature.”

Project Of The Year

Created by Ari Jónsson

The Agari water bottle is made with agar, a jelly-like substance created from algae. It is designed to only retain its shape when filled with water: the moment it is empty, it begins to deconstruct. “There’s a massive discussion right now about reducing plastic consumption,” noted the panel. “This water bottle captured global interest, showing how important the whole project was. It created hope.” Ari Jónsson was only a first-year university student when he made the bottle, but it quickly gained attention online. While the project is still in its initial stages, it shows the possibilities of solving the problems of global consumption. Plastic takes 500 to 1000 years to disintegrate—currently, all the plastic that humankind has ever produced is still somewhere in our environment. “This is a revolutionary idea, but it’s a beautifully simple design,” the panel noted.

Runners Up

Ljósafossvirkjun – Powering the Future

This new exhibit at Ljósafossstöđ outlines the progression of electrical power, from creation to mass production. “Without using language, they communicate knowledge in a lively manner,” said the panel. “It’s scientific data presented in an exciting and entertaining manner, both visually and in terms of context.” Ljósafossstöđ is one of the country’s oldest hydroelectric power stations, and this interactive centre contains not only written information but also sound installations and kinetic light sculptures.

Looking Forward To Seeing More From

“Sturla Aqua”
Created by Sturla Atlas & Siggi Odds

Sturla Aqua is a conceptual piece in the form of a refillable glass water bottle made in collaboration with local hip-hop group Sturla Atlas. As music sales decline worldwide, merchandise has become the new musical market, with fans buying physical items to connect themselves to music. “It’s a fresh look on how musicians can make their livelihood today,” said the panel. “It’s a consumer product revolving around the aesthetic of a band’s ideals.”

Product Line Of The Year

Created by Hugdetta / Aalto+aalto / Petra Lilja

The judges had a hard time picking a single product line, but settled on 1+1+1. It’s an experimental collaboration between designers from three Nordic countries: Hugdetta from Iceland, Petra Lilja from Sweden, and Aalto+Aalto from Finland. The project examines and reimagines objects: each studio designed an object consisting of three distinct parts and then mixed the parts up into unpredictable combinations. “We were impressed by their method and design approach,” said the judges, “how the designers created a reality of working blindly together with other designers.” The beauty of 1+1+1 comes the fact that these objects sprang from risk-taking, friendship, and travelling. There is no single product that can be representative of the line—it’s the methodology that is memorable.

Runners Up

OR Type
Created by Guðmundur Úlfarsson and Mads Freund Brunse

OR Type is an online store for typography founded in 2013 by graphic designers Guðmundur Úlfarsson and Mads Freund Brunse. The store contains a wide range of typography that the judges called “clean-cut and professional.” The panel also praised their website, which is both user-friendly, clear, and entertaining. “Their look is beautiful but also diverse and comprehensive,” they concluded. In addition to their online library, they also provide custom licenses and take on bespoke type designs. Their work is available at

Looking Forward To Seeing More From

Created by ALVARA

In “Silfra” by ALVARA, silver was dropped into cold water and then retrieved to create a collection of abstract one-of-a-kind trinkets. “ALVARA developed a unique way to use nature without being too kitschy or iterative,” said the judges. They were also impressed by the jewelry’s framework, which they called simple and clean: “The results not being known in advance captures only Icelandic characteristics. It’s a beautiful methodology and juxtaposition.” The whole collection can be viewed at

On Grapevine Awards Jury:
Sindri Páll Sigurðsson, Product designer, panel director on behalf of The Reykjavík Grapevine
Elín Hrund Þorgeirsdóttir, Project manager, panel director on behalf of Iceland Design Centre
Rúna Thors, Product designer, on behalf of the Iceland Academy of the Arts
Auður Karítas Ásgeirsdóttir, Art director & producer at MAGG
Sigríður Sigurjónsdóttir, Spark Design Space


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