For the February 2015 issue of Business Day's lifestyle supplement, Wanted
(Produced under the auspices of creative collaboration the extra-ordinary)
The mural-covered Hönnunarmiðstöð, Iceland’s tiny Design Centre, is tucked into a carpark next to the city’s duck pond, is a whitewashed flurry of keyboards and MacBooks ahead of the Design March festival, held every spring, bringing internationally-acclaimed designers together with the Iceland’s emerging talent.
More than 1000 kilometres across the Norwegian Sea from the rest of the Nordic countries - and very much on the periphery of the minimal, functional Scandinavian design movement - the young country has yet to define its own design identity.
“That’s our strong point,” says Hönnunarmiðstöð Managing Director Halla Helgadóttir.
Sweden, Finland and Denmark have a strong heritage of materials or craftsmanship, she says, “But we don’t have that background.”
“I think we’re a newcomer in the Nordic design scene, and it might be said that we’re quite experimental. We are quite young, we’re a bit inhibited, but it’s also the way we are a bit as a nation.” She grins. “I sometimes say, ‘We don’t know what is not possible, so we just go ahead and do it.’”
Iceland’s 2008 banking crash has had some unexpected side effects, spurring on the burgeoning local design scene, as focus turned to smaller scale projects, closer to home.
With a growing Academy of the Arts in the capital, a booming tourist industry, an economy emerging from financial crisis, and a population of under 350,000 people, the country is looking for strategic investments.
“We don’t have our design stars yet,” says Halla, “but that’s a great opportunity. There’s room for stars to emerge.”Read More