Stockholm 2016 – When we say Nordic design, the first features that come in mind are ergonomics, pastel colours with organic materials and a sustainable attitude. Well, that wouldn’t necessarily be wrong… But it definitively is the tip of an iceberg, Nordicly speaking. Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair presents Aurora – Nordic Architecture and Design, an exhibition that takes a closer look at what makes each country design unique… Given that, we focused on the features of the most Northern and remote of nation of all Europe: Iceland.
There are many things that Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland have in common. Historical connections reaching far back in time have today resulted in very similar cultures. But despite their similarities, the five design scenarios are very different.
“Iceland’s design scene is young and the conditions supporting its existence are fragile” say to ArchiPanic Daniel Golling and Gustaf Kjellin, curators of the Aurora exhibition. “The home market is small and the distances to export markets are large. There is also no domestic furniture industry to speak of and there are no forests, which has been the basis for the design success of its Nordic neighbours”.
“What Iceland does have, however, is plenty of creative minds with a healthy “work with what you are given” attitude to design. We have therefore been able to see several high-quality, successful collaborations between Icelandic designers and local industries, mainly the ones catering for the needs of the fishing industry but also local farms and other producers of food” comment curators.
In Stockholm, Jón Helgi Hólmgeirsson and Þorleifur Gunnar Gíslason of Børk studio present the Krafla lampashades. The designs are made of paper, and come in a flat pack kit of dry-cut cards that must be folded and assembled together. The series is available in a pastel colour palette inspired by the nuances of Icelandic most wild landscapes.
Reykjavik based designer Garðar Eyjólfsson presents a collection of trays and containers made of the most peculiar matter of the Nordic country: sulphur. The simple and minimal design features round shapes with simple drawn lines.
“Out of necessity, whatever is produced by Icelandic designers in Iceland must be adapted for export. The limitations of logistical demands have given birth to a unique esthetic and is one of the reasons why contemporary Icelandic design is not primarily associated with furniture design” says Daniel Golling and Gustaf Kjellin to ArchiPanic.
As a remote island, Nature wilderness and a marine culture inspire the work of Olafur Eliasson. The internationally reknown Danish-Icelandic artist and designer recently inaugurated the Cirkelbroen bridge on Copenhagen Christianshavn harbour. The project was inspired by fishing boats that Eliasson used to see as a child in Iceland.
“In my art practice, I often use transient materials such as wind, fog and flowing water. It has been wonderful to have the opportunity to make a structure like Cirkelbroen, which both embodies this transience – the changing of the weather and the waterfront atmosphere” said Olafur Eliasson.
RELATED STORY: Olafur Eliasson’s participative exhibition on New York City HighLine engaged Renzo Piano, OMA, Steven Holl and other influential architects to create an imaginary cityscape made with two tons of LEGO© bricks.
Young designer Brynjar Sigurðarson created marine-inspired furniture made of whale bones and shark teeth. The project that involved ECAL students from all over the world is a poetic reinterpretation of the country’s Nature. Read more…
At Maison & Objet, Kjartan Oskarsson presents Halo, an innovative O-shaped lighting with an invisible dimmer that works by pulling a leather strap. The strap runs around a wooden ring that rotates gradually switching on and off a hidden LED light.