Date
July 17, 2020
Share

It actually happened! Iceland held DesignMarch, the annual design festival showcasing the best of Icelandic design.

Iceland’s annual design festival, DesignMarch, initially scheduled for the end of March, took place for the 12th time in Reykjavik from 24-28 June, transforming the northernmost capital of the world into one big venue for design with over 100 shows and over 80 exhibitors

The theme of this year’s festival was New World – New Ways. Little did festival organizers know what challenges they would face. “At the beginning of March, when it became apparent that the festival would have to be postponed, we called everyone involved to get their feedback. We believe that the conversations we had about how we could proceed collectively, and bring light and positivity during these challenging times, enabled all of us to work together and organize a more local, yet very successful festival.” 

DesignMarch Highlights - inaguration
DesignMarch theme of this year was New World – New Ways

“Even though Iceland has been successful in tackling the challenges associated with Covid-19, we had to adapt to a new format,” says festival director Thorey Einarsdottir. To do so, festival organizers decided to put additional emphasis on creating digital content and documenting the festival. The team experimented with a new concept called STUDIO 2020, a platform for varied forms of interviews, giving insights into the Icelandic design scene and current local conversations

Festival events were spread all over the greater Reykjavik capital area, and large events, such as DesignTalks, opening and closing ceremonies, and Design Diplomacy, were postponed until 2021. At the same time, there was a more local focus and it was inspiring to see how many local people attended DesignMarch in June. 

Despite the unusual circumstances, there was no lack of creativity. A common thread throughout the festival was an emphasis on sustainability and the reuse and repurposing of materials

Björn Steinar Blumenstein created a limited edition Covid-19 sanitizer made from 250 kg of leftover fruit from local food importers, highlighting the material’s potential use-value. The sanitizer was offered to guests at all DesignMarch venues. 

“This year, we surely missed our big events, as well as our international guests. We are excited to bring back DesignTalks and our big official events next year and look forward to welcoming international guests to DesignMarch 2021,” says festival director Thorey Einarsdottir. 

Iceland’s annual design festival, DesignMarch, took place in Reykjavik transforming the northernmost capital of the world into one big venue for design with over 100 shows and over 80 exhibitors

Let’s discover the highlights of DesignMarch 2020, featuring hand-sanitisers, interactive installations, repurposed stadium seats and other unexpected design creations.

Catch of the day: Limited COVID-19

Catch of the day: Limited Covid-19 edition is a hand sanitizer specially designed for DesignMarch 2020. The project is based on Catch of the day that was nominated to the Icelandic Design Awards in 2018 with the overall aim of reducing food waste and preventing the spread of Covid-19. For the production of leftover fruits from local food importers are used as a raw material – fermented and distilled – highlighting the materials potential use-value.

DesignMarch Highlights - Catch of the day

Ýrúrarí

In Sweater sauce textile designer Ýr Jóhannsdóttir, or Ýrúrarí, works in collaboration with the Red cross of Iceland with unsellable sweaters that come into their clothing collections. Most of the sweaters have undergone human everyday incidents that leave permanent traces on the fabric, which brings them to the Red cross clothing collection.

Ýr takes unusual approaches in the process of fixing and changing the sweaters in an unsought collaboration with the original sweater designers and former owners and transforms the sweaters into Ýrúrarí kind of sweaters. Sweater sauce was exhibited at Red cross stores and was celebrated with an extraordinary prevention fashion show by performance artist Snæfríður Sól.

DesignMarch Highlights - Yrurari sweater
Ýrúrarí works in collaboration with the Red cross of Iceland with unsellable sweaters that come into their clothing collections

Making Waves with Genki Instruments

Genki showed an interactive exhibition of Wave, the ring that lets you control sound with motion, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the development process, experience how it’s being used today, and get a glimpse of future use cases. Genki Instruments is the recipient of the 2019 Icelandic Design Awards.

Genki Instruments is a Reykjavík-based tech company developing products on the intersection of technology and design. Genki Instruments strives to make technology feel natural. Technology needs to be able to understand the nuances of human expression. That is why Genki Instruments is redesigning the way we interact with technology and giving us the power to control it with one of the most fundamental communication methods we have – our hands.

DesignMarch Highlights - Genki instruments in use
Genki showed an interactive exhibition of Wave, the ring that lets you control sound with motion, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the development process

ASMR U Ready? – Valdís Steinarsdóttir

During DesignMarch 2020, when touching is restricted, material experiments will be displayed using the help of the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR), where visitors’ senses are stimulated to experience the materials. Valdís Steinarsdóttir has been working on finding solutions to replace toxic materials with natural materials. For example, she has worked on a series of projects where she has researched the meat industry and the various biological waste materials it produces.

Usually, guests would be allowed to touch the material experiments to experience them in a tactile way. However, now when obviously touching should be kept to a minimum Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) will be used to give guests a sense of the materials using different means. Valdís is nominated for the Formex Nova award 2020.

DesignMarch Highlights - ASMR
During DesignMarch, material experiments were displayed using the help of the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR)

Fragrance Library – Nordic Angan

An exhibition and installation of all the scents that Nordic angan has collected and distilled during their research project in recent years along with the Forest shower and other scented experiences. Here the nose is on the spot. Let your sense of smell guide you to Álafoss. Nordic angan is an essential oil distillery making premium grade essential oils from wild Icelandic flora. Nordic angan is also a design and research studio focusing on making scented products and scented experiences.

DesignMarch Highlights - Nordic Angan
Fragrance Library an exhibition and installation of all the scents that Nordic angan has collected and distilled during their research project

Studio Flétta – Trophy

Flétta exhibits lights made from old trophies at this year’s DesignMarch. Studio Flétta exhibited their most recent addition to the Trophy collection. The objects are made from old trophies that have been collected from sports clubs and athletes in Iceland.

DesignMarch Highlights - studio Fletta
Studio Flétta exhibited the Trophy collection made from old trophies that have been collected from sports clubs and athletes in Iceland

Circle – Rvk Trading Company & The Shed

“Circle” is a collection of new homeware by Reykjavík Trading Co. in collaboration with a selection of local restaurants and Þóra Breiðfjörð within their community of Hafnarfjörður. The couple, Ýr and Anthony, gathers, designs & creates new pieces utilizing food waste, bringing it back to the home in another form of life.

DesignMarch Highlights - Circle
“Circle” is a collection of new homeware by Reykjavík Trading Co. in collaboration with a selection of local restaurants

The Fan Chair – Tobia Zambotti

The Fan Chair” brings into indoor settings the adrenaline and the vibrant colors of the stadiums in the ’80s. Considering the urgent environmental issues society has to face, is time for designers to come up with sustainable solutions that aim for a circular economy. Pursuing this environmentally-friendly goal, “The Fan Chair” collection on one hand gives a new life to discarded plastic seats from ‘KR Reykjavík’ football stadium, and on the other hand, it brings into indoor settings the adrenaline and the vibrant colors of the stadiums in the ’80s.

Curious to know more about “The Fan Chair”, don’t miss Atelier Tobia Zambotti gives a new life to discarded plastic seats.

Icelandic tweed

Kormákur og Skjöldur proudly presented the first Icelandic tweed production in 50 years. At DesignMarch they showed the fabric in actual garments, as well as an exciting option as an upholstery fabric. In the 1970s, when the wool industry was at its peak, there were over 50 companies with more than 2,000 employees. At that time, there was a great deal of growth in Icelandic wool and many designers were using it in their products. Later, cheaper foreign textile imports decimated Icelandic production.

As a result, companies in the local wool industry dropped to 5 and only employed around 200 people. Today, knitting and crochet are the main processing methods and weaving has almost disappeared. All that is left in Iceland is basic textile production. Kormákur and Skjöldur aim to reverse this trend. They will increase production methods and the supply of local textiles for designers and others. Their plan is to produce high-quality Icelandic Tweed, for the domestic market and abroad, their goal is to bring back industrial woven textiles from Icelandic wool.

Kormákur og Skjöldur proudly presented the first Icelandic tweed production in 50 years

STUDIO 2020 at DesignMarch

This is the right time to be experimental with new ways of communicating a design festival content beyond and below appearances alone. The creators and curators of the Studio 2020 are Hlín Helga Guðlaugsdóttir, curator of DesignTalks, Garðar Eyjólfsson, program Director of MA Design at Iceland University of Arts and María Kristín Jónsdóttir, editor in chief of HA magazine. Make sure to follow DesignMarch on Instagram for an insight into the Icelandic design scene and inspirational conversations about design and architecture

If you want to know more about DesignMarch highlights, don’t miss Iceland’s largest design festival DesignMarch just took place, for real.

DesignMarch Highlights - Studio 2020
 DesignMarch experimented with a concept called STUDIO 2020