Icelanders have a reputation for being stylish people and right now you could say that Icelandic design is having a moment. While still a relatively young industry in Iceland, the last few years have seen an incredible growth in all areas of design, with young designers finding success both at home and out in the world.
A lot of these designers draw inspiration from the magnificent Icelandic landscape and the rich heritage of folklore and myths. Young designers are supported by large events like Design March and the Reykjavik Fashion Festival where they get the opportunity to showcase their creations to a large audience. Small boutique stores are also popping up all over the country, taking the place of larger department stores and allowing design lovers easy access to one of a kind pieces. Design enthusiasts can get their fill of fresh innovative design year round with specially curated holidays like our Stopover Packages where they’ll learn about the history of Icelandic design and tradition.
Design March, the large annual festival celebrating Icelandic design and architecture, is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year and so the festivities will be the biggest yet, transforming Reykjavik into one big festival venue. With over 100 events there should be something for everyone. The festival showcases everything from fashion and architecture, to furniture to food design with local designers mingling with big international names. This year Design March will open with an event called DesignTalks, a full day of inspirational lectures and talks by some of the world’s foremost designers and creative thinkers. The event will be opened by Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir. DesignMatch is a closed event that is a sort of a matchmaking session for Icelandic and international designers where they get the chance to connect and pitch each other ideas and DesignDiplomacy is a series of talks that pairs Icelandic designers of all disciplines with their international counterparts. And we haven’t even mentioned the huge amount of exhibitions and installations that are open all over the city in places ranging from galleries to the Nordic House and even a yoga studio. This year a lot of the talks and exhibitions focus on green and renewable, environmentally friendly design. A lot of Icelandic designers utilize the natural materials found in the stunning nature around us and repurpose old materials connected to our main industries of fishing and agriculture. Back in the day, Iceland was very isolated and finer materials were hard to come by so people had to be inventive when it came to designing clothes and furniture. This ingenuity is still a huge part of Icelandic creativity and can easily be seen in our modern design. Design March is the perfect opportunity to get to know more about Icelandic history and design. The whole city basically becomes alive with creativity and innovation and it’s safe to say that March has become one of our favourite time of year!
But if you’re not able to visit Iceland in March, don’t fret! Icelandic design is becoming a big industry and is widely available all over the country. Unlike most shopping streets, Reykjavik’s Laugarvegur is not filled with large chains and department stores but small boutiques full of Icelandic design, often run by the designers themselves. Ask around in any town you’re in and the locals will be sure to point you to a place where you can buy hand-crafted items by local designers.