Gallery: ICELANDIC DESIGN: In the details


I went to Iceland looking for fabulous design, and I found it just not in the places I expected. Although I couldn’t find any museums or galleries devoted to contemporary Icelandic design, it seemed like good design surrounded me everywhere I went: in the smallest details of every drinking fountain I encountered to numerous houses and public buildings around Reykjavik.

From the moment I arrived at Keflavik airport (shown above), Iceland’s unique take on minimalist Scandinavian design was on display everywhere I went:

Drinking Fountains
Something that I particularly noticed was the fact that virtually every drinking fountain I came across in Iceland was very designed. There were no run-of-the-mill drinking fountains like you typically find in the U.S. Every drinking fountain I came across seemed to be intent on taking drinking-fountain-ness to the next level.

The Icelandic design sense seemed to permeate every detail of public space. Countless buildings I came across utilized volcanic rock as both a material and a design motif.

Although I didn’t come across much Icelandic product design in Reykjavik, a quick internet search dug up some quirky Icelandic designers.

Olafur Omarsson, a student at the Icelandic Academy of Arts, makes inspired wooden furniture, like this bike rack and bookshelves.

Ragnheieur esp Sigureardettir, another Icelandic Academy of Arts student, reinterprets the craft of embroidery with this supercute wool thingy, and a line of classic IKEA stools that have been deconstructed / indivualized with unique embroidery patterns.

Sesselja Guemundsdottir gives a new twist to the familiar wool cap, by knitting them into shapes reminiscent of medieval viking helmets.


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  1. Tzahi Shneider December 22, 2005 at 8:50 pm

    hello and good day :)
    my name is Tzahi Shneider, i’m 27 and i’m Israeli.
    i have a patent that combines aquarium with a toilet tank. acording to my patent the fish lives in the same water that are flushed – not two different tanks.
    i’m now into looking for investor or a toilet tank company that would like to take this thing and make it comercial.
    is it possible to put a picture of it with some words about it in your web site?

    thank you very much
    Tzahi Shneider

  2. Jill August 2, 2005 at 12:30 am

    Oh, that?s an IKEA stool? That makes sense. I know this designer (Ragnhei?ur ?sp Sigur?ard?ttir) had nothing to do with the design of the stool itself – her thing is to take generic, mass-produced pieces and then make each one unique with embroidery.
    It makes sense that she would use IKEA stools, since they are mega cheap and she seems to have interest / issue with IKEA.

    In fact, she was involved in the Icelandic UN-IKEA design exhibition that L+L wrote about in January:

  3. Anthony @ L+L August 2, 2005 at 12:14 am

    I picked up three of those stools from IKEA with the hopes of sanding and staining them with a dark walnut stain. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out too well since they put some type polyurethane (or ?) that prevented the wood from absorbing the stain. I still have them and was thinking about putting some walnut veneer on them instead. For $20, you can’t beat the price!

  4. Brennen August 1, 2005 at 8:54 am

    I hope you got a picture of the foot-operated drinking fountain at the Pearl :)

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