Annual design festival DesignMarch celebrated its 11th year in the Icelandic capital, Reykjavík, from March 28-31. With more than 100 events and exhibitions in the fields of furniture, architecture, product design, fashion, the environment, and food, the festival showcased a mix of local talents and international designers.
The four-day gathering opened with DesignTalks, a schedule of inspirational presentations about the role design will play in facing global challenges in the environmental, digital, and political fields, among other topics. The interesting discussion “Life on Mars: Designing a New World for Earthlings,” led by architect Michael Morris of Space Exploration Architecture and anthropologist Karl Aspelund of the University of Rhode Island, answered some questions, such as where humans will live once we’re on Mars and what we’ll wear while there and on other planets.
Icelandic brands and designers—including FÓLK, Erla Sólveig Óskarsdóttir, Hlín Reykdal, Agustav and Lúka Art & Design, to name only a few—exemplified the great sense of both innovation and authenticity that characterizes Nordic design. Read on for 10 highlights from DesignMarch.
This experimental collaboration between Hugdetta from Iceland, Petra Lilja from Sweden, and Aalto+Aalto from Finland was showcased for the first time during DesignMarch. “Each studio designed an object consisting of three distinct parts and then mixed the parts up into unpredictable combinations,” the collaborative group explained.
2. Mould by Theodóra Alfreðsdóttir
Presented in the Formex Nova section—which was established in 2011 and has become one of the biggest Nordic design awards—Mould was created by Iceland-born, London-based product designer Theodóra Alfreðsdóttir, who was nominated for this year’s award. “The project is a process-led investigation that explores subtle interventions in mould-making,” says Alfreðsdóttir. “Its aim is to raise awareness about the material world around us, the making of objects, their origin and value.”
3. Now Nordic
Organized by international platform Adorno, this exhibition of collectible pieces shaped by emerging and established designers from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden highlighted both the commonalities and contrasts between the modern cultures of these five Nordic countries. Jonas Edvard, Alexandru Murar, Maija Puoskari, Katrín Ólína, Stine Linnemann, Lith Lith Lundi, and Lotta Lampa were some of the participants.
4. Porcelain Meets Wood & Vicious Circle
In this two-person exhibition, product designer Hanna Dís Whitehead (“Vicious Circle”) and ceramic designer Raili Keiv (Porcelain Meets Wood”) explored the possibilities of the circle, which has no beginning or end. “Half of the territory of Estonia is covered with forest,” Keiv explains of her series. “Two materials—warm wood and cold porcelain—enter into dialogue, acquiring commonalities. Porcelain transforms into wood or the other way around, bearing the visual characteristics of the other material by the aid of the artist.”
5. The Living Objects by FÓLK and Ólína Rögnudóttir
During the exhibition “Domestic Landscapes,” FÓLK introduced The Living Objects collection created in collaboration with young Icelandic designer Ólína Rögnudóttir. “It consists of a pair of multifunctional objects that can stand alone, be added to, stacked or taken apart, therefore offering the possibility to interact and assemble to your own preferences and desires,” says Rögnudóttir. “Each item can be used as a vase or a candleholder.”
6. FORM by Heiðdís Halla Bjarnadóttir
The pieces of the exhibition FORM represent “the interplay of certain forms and colors, without any external reference, meaning, or message,” according to graphic designer Heiðdís Halla Bjarnadóttir. “Originally, these were two-dimensional computer graphics which were developed into three-dimensional wall hangings, made from wood and textiles.”
7. Everyday Things by Portland
With these functional objects from the series “Everyday Things,” Reykjavík-based design studio Portland wants “to show that responsible design is good design and that neither quality nor beauty needs to be sacrificed at the expense of responsibility toward the environment.” The team is accustomed to working with recyclable and recycled materials such as cork, aluminum, and wood.
8. Pepper and Salt project by Nendo for Valerie Objects
The round glass bottle placed on a glass holder is the first pepper and salt shaker by Japanese designer Nendo for Valerie Objects. “The intention is to pick up the bottle, pour some spice into the holder, grind it with the ribbed bottom of the bottle and then pour the squashed pepper or salt on you meal,” says the team at Valerie Objects, an Antwerp-based design label founded by Axel Van Den Bossche and Veerle Wenes. “In other words, using the pepper or the salt becomes an almost absurd act of play.”
Based in Sweden, Stefan Andersson uses traditional pottery techniques to create small series of bespoke tableware. His pieces adorn the tables of restaurants in different parts of the world, including Frantzén in Stockholm and Zén in Singapore. “I plunge into the basis of what we surround us with and study expressions that industrialism has wiped away,” Andersson says.
After a two-year research and development project in collaboration with the Icelandic forestry sector, product designer Björn Steinar launched the furniture line ‘Skógarnytjar’ during DesignMarch, which was produced from Icelandic wood and centered on the concept of sustainability.
Read more: 15 Product Highlights from IMM 2019