Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Icelandic design

Remember yesterday when I said Icelandic products = wool?
Well, check out this post about the different sheep-related products coming out of Iceland.

Isn't this sheep stool cool? It's called the Princess.

Anyway, Iceland does have a small but interesting design scene.
In the home goods stores I saw many of the same designers and products, all featuring clean lines and references to nature.

The Icelandic Market has most of what I saw in person for sale online.

One of my favorite pieces was this raven hanger:

$45 Raven hanger and hookIt comes in black, white, red, pink, or blue.
The idea is that this hanger is meant to be out in the open instead of in a closet.

Which brings me to another point about Icelandic design: it's very minimalist.
What that means in this case is simply that from the apartments we stayed in, and the styles we saw around town, Icelanders don't own a lot of things.
Clothes, gadgets, knick-knacks--not that much of anything.

When you don't have a lot of stuff, the stuff you do have pops out more and becomes more important.
And that is where this raven hanger comes in.
You couldn't use it if you had (as I do) more than 8 coats that you had to put away.
But if you only have 1 coat that you wear all the time, you can just hang it on the wall instead of in a closet.

Kraum is probably the best design store in Reykjavik, and it's located in the oldest house in town (built in 1762). They also collaborate with the big design festival in Iceland each year.

Dwell magazine has an interesting interview with Icelandic designer Gudr├║n Lilja Gunnlaugsd├│ttir. She mentions that Icelandic design, like other features of Icelandic life, is spare and efficient. And she points out that many Icelanders use natural materials and craft techniques, which I found to be true.

Mostly, things are made of wool, lava rocks, and wood. But sometimes the natural materials get a little weirder. When I was in the Westfjords up north, I saw items made of fish skin. I learned that in the olden days, shoes were made of delicate fish skin, and that distances were measured in terms of how many pairs of shoes you wore through to get somewhere.
Like "Walk 4 shoes past the fjord and it'll be on your left."
Awesome, right?
There were purses and notebooks embellished with fish leather that I saw for sale. It really still smelled like fish though, so I wasn't too taken with the products.

More about Icelandic apparel tomorrow!

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