View of Reykjavik, from The Presidential Residence. Guests of Design March were invited to meet the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson.
John signing the guest book.
After a speech we were left to mingle and explore the residence.
In the basement there are some excavated spaces. From their website:
The history of Bessastaðir has been closely associated with the history of Iceland since the times of the settlement in the 9th century AD. Archeological excavations have shown that the first inhabitants of Bessastaðir settled there before AD 1000, and ever since the site has been inhabited. In the 13th century the great writer Snorri Sturluson had one of his farms there. After Snorri’s death, the king of Norway confiscated the property, and during the remainder of the middle ages it was used by top representatives of the foreign rulers of Iceland. In the 17th century Bessastaðir was the residence of the most powerful representative of the Danish monarch in Iceland.
Wild weather, we arrived with a dark cloud looming and then there was this spectacular whiteout with a glowing yellow sun, and then clear skies.
We also spent some time with Ingibjörg Hanna Bjarnadóttir of original Krummi bird hanger fame. She took us around to various exhibitions that she was participating in. Above is a tiny house named Stöðlakot (that you can apparently rent via Air B n B) where they had one exhibition.
This piece was showing at Epal, in collaboration with Umemi. I can’t find any more details but it is a rug and the pattern is sound waves. Regretting not picking up a few Umemi Knot Cushions for the kids.
We also had the pleasure with spending some time with Andrea Maack, whereby she showed us her newest scents and bottle design, available soon at Mjölk (currently sold out).
On our last day we visited The Culture House, which was a new stop for us, prompted by a designer we met while having a bite in the hotel cafe. I wish we had more time as there were quite a few exhibitions happening. On the left is Universe, a piece that is a part of the Primitiva show by Katrín Ólína Pétursdóttir.
A visit to Reykjavik is not complete without a visit to Mokka for coffee and waffles. Love the sign.
One major thing we noticed since our last visit is the huge rise in tourism. Tourist shops line the main street, pushing design shops out of the downtown, and a long lineup at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur.
One casualty to rising rents is Spark Design Space, which will be closing April 1.
1+1+1 is 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 by having each studio design an object consisting of three distinct parts and then mixing the parts up into unpredictable combinations.
Clever show. They created parameters such as the dimensions, and three components. Then each of the three design studios takes the elements to create new combinations.
Founded by Sigríður Sigurjónsdóttir, Spark has been an important gallery to visit since our first trip, and we will really miss it as a beacon for local design and art.
We attended Design March in Reykjavik, Iceland the other week. Previously we had only ever visited Iceland during the summertime, when the sun is always present, so it was surprising to me when I looked out the window of the airplane and saw complete darkness. Arriving just before 6am (1am our time at home), the darkness and intense sideways rain both shoved us into bed until 11am. Usually we just grab breakfast and push through the day, but the winter is like that.
We started the day off at the Grey Cat, which has retained its charm and coziness.
Thankful for the brightly coloured buildings on such a grey day.
First visit to Harpa. The last time we visited it was nearly complete, but not open yet.
We only managed to catch the last two talks of the day thanks to our excruciating jet lag (I think parenting children under the age of five and travelling across time zones are two things that just shouldn’t happen at the same time – next year we’re going south).
Stepping into the future by Dr. Thorvaldur Ingvarsson, EVP of Research & Development, Össur reminded us that design is more than tableware, furniture, graphics, etc. Prosthetic design improves quality of life, and I admire this Icelandic company for its commitment to continually innovating and pushing their product further.
See The Unseen by Lauren Bowker, The Textile Alchemist (pictured above) was inspiring in that Lauren has a lot of vision and passion, and has brought together science, textiles and performance to bring understanding and greater meaning to things like pain and emotion.
Design March opening party at the art gallery.
The weather was as they say. If you don’t like the weather, just wait 5 minutes. In one day we saw rain, snow, hail, wind, sun, all of which was on repeat by the hour.
Dinner at local spot Snaps. Nice atmosphere and good food. One of the only new (to us) places we tried on this trip.
Post dinner we popped into Geysir for a few minutes and when we left this was happening. Just wait 5 minutes…
We stayed at the relatively new Icelandair Marina Hotel and it was a great hotel. Nice rooms, better than standard buffet breakfast (or you can get a different breakfast option at the cafe), and nice communal spaces if you are so inclined to meet up with others or want to get out of your room for a bit.
As an aside, I just revisited all of our posts about Reykjavik, which seem to be mostly still relevant and can be visited here. A few changes:
Dill restaurant is no longer in Nordic House but it moved to a new location and I highly recommend getting a reservation. We missed out this time…
Friða Frænka the antique shop is closed. From what I gather the owner was ready to retire. A loss to downtown Reykjavik for sure.
Spark Design Space will be closing April 1, 2016 due to rising rent. Another loss for downtown Reykjavik.
Icelandic Fish & Chips seems to have moved down the street and another fish and chips place has replaced it? Weird?
Last year when we visited Kumu in Tokyo, we picked up this beautiful mobile, which currently hangs over Howell’s crib, accompanied by (and complimentary to) a Junpei Ori painting. Every baby needs a mobile, and we like to buy mobiles that can be enjoyed long past babyhood.
This particular piece caught our eye because it’s so delicate yet balanced, and its movement was so subtle.
I was particularly excited when the designer of the mobile contacted us via email, because she is actually a follower of the blog and read that we had bought her piece. Having lived in Japan, Annett shares our affinity for the Northern spirit and aesthetic.
Currently based in Portugal she picks up bits’n'pieces for the mobiles during long walks on the beach and in the streets of Lisbon.
Here are some descriptions of the mobiles she currently has up on her website:
room poetry made of found objects
in a silent conversation with air and light
a kinetic sculpture composed with found material
fragile metals and stones transformed by the ocean
We didn’t do too much shopping on our last trip to Stockholm, but we did manage to all come away with a little something. Claesson Koivisto Rune gifted us their book about their recently completed architectural project The inde/jacobs gallery in Marfa, Texas. They also collaborated with Skultuna to create a limited edition run of paper weights, so we popped by the Skultuna concept store to pick one up.
Marfa 1/32″ = 1′ Scale model paperweight
The desk in the inde/jacobs gallery is strategically placed in the cross-breeze between the entrance and inner courtyard doors. To hold papers down, the Marfa 1/32″ = 1′ paperweight was designed. Made in the shape of a scale model of the gallery and manufactured in sand-cast and polished brass by Skultuna, a Swedish brass foundry established in 1607.
Nearby is a little Swedish folk craft shop we like to visit called Svensk Slöjd. They happened to have some simple brown leather clogs on sale, and I couldn’t pass up the $20 score. Looking forward to wearing these around the cottage.
We’ve been waiting years to indulge in some Pippi Longstocking…Elodie is still a tad too young for the movies but we thought an introductory book and the hobby horse (and a dress, not pictured) were a good place to start. We had to go to three toy stores to find that horse - there was something about buying the Pippi horse that had to happen.
Day three brought us to Gamla Stan for a morning meeting. I absolutely love the coloured buildings. It was an especially grey and dark week and the colours certainly bring some joy.
We enjoyed a lovely conversation about design at Cia Weden and Lovisa Wattman’s shared studio. You may remember Lovisa from our very first Mjölk book. I absolutely love how the Swedish offset the dimness of winter with candles.
Terrazzo flooring at Gamla Stan station.
Next up was lunch at Ett Hem. We originally wanted to stay there but they were fully booked, so a meal in their kitchen was the next best option. Served at the communal harvest table in the cozy kitchen, we dined on a two course meal. To our surprise, none other than Ilse Crawford ended up dining with us. What a pleasure it was to be able to discuss design with her.
Then we had a quick peek around…
Pallo Vase by Carina Seth Andersson.
I liked the green tile in the bathroom, which matched my blouse.
Our first visit to the Svenskt Tenn tea room.
Estrid Ericson‘s office.
A few weeks ago we went to Stockholm for the Furniture & Light Fair, and to reconnect with friends, since we missed the previous year. I didn’t bring my camera but most of the following photos were not shared on Instagram.
For this trip we got a bit extravagant and stayed at the Grand Hotel. It had been our 5 year wedding anniversary recently and we thought we’d celebrate in style. Too bad I got a terrible cold on the lead up to the trip. On the upside, the hotel spa was a total benefit, one that I am afraid has spoiled me forever. Imagine after 12 hours of travel time, arriving at your hotel and being able to decompress in the steam room, sauna, pools and massage service.
Above is the view from our room.
Since we usually stay in Södermalm, we weren’t sure where to grab a bite close to the hotel. We were looking for a konditori and it was suggested to go to Wiener Caféet, where we grabbed a late lunch and shared our first of many semla.
The following day we spent at the Furniture Fair. We barely managed to see anything because our discussions with our suppliers took most of our time.
This year there were two designers representing Canada in the Greenhouse section of new design. Above is local Toronto/Junction design duo MSDS Studio. They also participated last year, whereby several of their lights were picked up and put into production by Danish brand Woud. This year’s collection was equally tight, the photo above not doing it justice. My favourite pieces were the porcelain lamps (prototypes made by Alissa Coe).
We’ve been working with Thom on developing his prototype for a fireplace tools set. We have yet to purchase one for our home, because it’s so challenging finding a nice modern set (we once tried to buy a vintage set but it was priced around $10,000!).
We hope that everyone had some success at the fair!