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In Time: The Fire & Ice in Icelandic Design


“People are asking for something more than architecture.” These words, spoken during DesignTalks, seemed to remain ever present under the gray sky and Icelandic rain as we prepared for our guided tour the following day for this issue’s In Time journey.

Pink Iceland, whose no-judgments-allowed policy makes it a political focal point, organized a design tour around the city on March 25, 2017. We began by visiting the jewelry shop Erling – Helga Osk, whose participation in a design exhibition two years ago inspired the designer and maker couple to create a special line of jewelry for this year’s DesignMarch. Listen to Erling Jóhannesson discuss how he and Helga got people of all ages to play in the mud in the Soundcloud below.

pink iceland soundcloud image 1

Our guide took us down the street and asked us if anyone could spot the Hilton. We all turned in circles, but it was nowhere to be seen; and yet, it was right in front of our eyes. Find out how the hotel seemed to emerge out of thin air in the timeline below.  

We later stood at a great distance from the Harpa, built by Henning Larsen Architects & Batteriid Architects, and as we stared at its beautiful facade, whose blue shimmer recalls glaciers and icebergs, our guide explained its architectural phenomenon: a two-layered structure in which the exterior could act like the lid of a pastry stand.


The Harpa concert hall. Courtesy of Reykjavik.com

The Harpa concert hall. Courtesy of Reykjavik.com


In the evening we went to the last of four Design Diplomacy talks which linked Iceland and another nation, in this case France. The cozy atmosphere and fun card-game-style discussion brought together French designer Inga Sempé and Icelandic designer Sigríður Sigurjónsdóttir. Find out where Inga usually disappears to and Sigga’s opinion on the importance of beauty when designing, and more, in the timeline below.

The team behind DesignMarch selected their favorite designers in what they’ve called their Designers Pick. We had the honor of meeting one of them at Safnahúsið, The Culture House Museum, to discuss her exhibition Shapes of Sounds. Award-winning designer Thorunn Arnadottir upcycled broken soundboards once used for Chinese toys and combined them with Icelandic materials like lava rock to make new toys. Skip ahead to the interview here or flip through the timeline below and catch it at the end.     

ArchiExpo e-Magazine had a sneak preview of the new Ion hotel being constructed in the city center, scheduled to be open…soon! Find out more in our May issue.

For more information about the Canopy by Hilton, read this article by Wallpaper. You might also be interested in an audio tour of the hotel.
Learn more about the architectural creation behind Harpa here.

About the Author

American artist Erin Tallman is a journalist for various online publications and is the Editor in Chief of AgriExpo e-magazine and ArchiExpo e-magazine. She has published three books, including her first novel.

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