“When children and young adults feel the urge to protest and claim their right for a future we’ve got to listen and do something.”
– Hlín Helga Guðlaugsdóttir & María Kristín Jónsdóttir
Curators of the Icelandic Collection
Climate change (at this point it should really go without saying) is the greatest issue we currently face, and this isn’t an issue that is just left up to our scientific community and political leaders to solve. Dictating how we as humans interact with the natural and material world, designers are very much at the front line of this battle and play a vital role in changing our habits and lifestyle. Whether this is through narrating and shedding light on production methods, or creating objects produced with sustainability and environmentally conscious methods these designers are reshaping our understanding of and use of nature’s precious resources. Though design is a relatively young cultural discipline in Iceland, its designers bring a level of thoughtfulness and conceptualism to the art that makes this small nation standout internationally with a defining voice aimed at shaping the future of their chosen crafts.
Adorno is proud to present the Icelandic Collection, curated by Hlín Helga Guðlaugsdóttir & María Kristín Jónsdóttir, to be exhibited this year at Crossovers: 2019 during London Design Fair. 8 designers and studios working with sustainability and responsible design comprise their country’s collection, including Theodóra Alfreðsdóttir, TOS, Ragna Ragnarsdottir, Studio Hanna Whitehead, Flétta, Studio Björn Steinar, Tinna Gunnarsdóttir, and 1+1+1.
The Icelandic Collection
The Icelandic collection for the Crossovers exhibition in London is characterized by design pieces born out of processes where time, a reinterpretation of materials and concepts lead the way. For the designers, their natural habitat serves as an inspiration while at the same time creating a multitude of constraints due to limited options of manufacturing possibilities, scarcity of materials plus the environmental factors – the conscious shift we as humans are facing and also the ones that come with living on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
What are the main themes presented across the works in the collection?
Collaborative explorations across borders, research into overlooked materials, time constraints as a manufacturing method, and sustainability.
Studio Hanna Whitehead
Give us 3 words that define the current design scene in Iceland.
We are reluctant to define the whole design scene in all its diversity, but if we talk about the characteristics of collectible design it would be: thoughtful, experimental and conceptual.
Studio Björn Steinar
Connections to World Design
What does this collection say about the state of contemporary design internationally?
We believe it resonates with the reaction to the global situation we can see characterizing the work of many designers today. Designers, like other professions, are increasingly faced with constraints due to climate change and we feel that they are increasingly searching for new ways of working. There is more emphasis on less quantity and more quality, and new ways of using, inventing and even re-inventing materials. There is also an increased awareness of responsibility amongst designers; if you’re going to put a new thing into the world today you need a more solid argument than before. Change in value is necessary today. When children and young adults feel the urge to protest and claim their right for a future we’ve got to listen and do something. We all know the seriousness of the situation by now.
What is exciting about having this collection displayed at Adorno’s Crossover exhibition at London Design Fair?
It is always exciting to facilitate cross-cultural learnings and dialogues as Adorno is doing, it’s a fantastic platform for new connections and it’s interesting for us to contribute to opening up the scene of collectible design in Iceland to a larger audience.
Curated by Hlín Helga Guðlaugsdóttir & María Kristín Jónsdóttir
Maria Kristin is the editor in chief of HA, Icelandic magazine on design and architecture and Hlin Helga is the curator of DesignTalks Reykjavik. Occasionally we join forces on projects such as this one for Adorno. We’re attracted to thoughtful concepts, socially engaged projects, and projects that reflect respect for people and the planet, whether that’s the imperative of sustainability or enhanced wellbeing in the man-made environment.
What attracted you both to be involved in collectible design, and work with designers working at the intersection of art and design?
We are sincerely inspired by the rich diversity of design and designers and genuinely inspired by the potential of design. As curators in Iceland, we work with a wide spectrum of design and designers, depending on the context. Manufacturing possibilities and material resources are scarce in Iceland, therefore much of design made locally is made in small quantities and often in close collaboration with craftsmen or by the designers themselves. In fact, such constraints invite designers to explore more, to be more experimental, to venture into the realm of the arts, the conceptual, the philosophical, the speculative – and the critical. In this way, much of the locally made design pieces could, in fact, be considered collectible design and it’s interesting for us to contribute to opening this scene up to a larger audience.