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Six Must-Sees at DesignMarch 2021

GRAY’s top picks for things to see and do at Iceland’s 13th annual DesignMarch.

By Rachel Gallaher

While we aren’t able to attend this year’s DesignMarch in Reykjavík, Iceland—one of the first design fairs to resume an in-person festival since the pandemic—we have been combing through the program to make a list of all of the exhibitions and events we’d make sure to see if we were. From fashion to architecture to product design, the schedule of events for DesignMarch 2021 is varied and covers all disciplines in the industry. Even though the larger international creative community mostly won’t be part of the turnout, it’s no secret that Icelanders show up for design, and any return to “normal” feels like a hopeful step forward.

DesignMarch runs May 19-23. Follow along on Instagram @designmarch.

Blonde woman in Pink Sweater Sewing.

Jumper with everything for everybody, harvest time

Catch the end of this fashion-focused exhibition (which runs through May 29) at the Museum of Design and Applied Art. Jumper with everything for everybody, harvest time, a residency by Ýr Jóhannsdóttir, a textile designer and artist who works under the name Ýrúrarí, is the continuation of a project the designer started last year with The Red Cross in Iceland called Jumper with everything. The title is a reference to one of Iceland’s most famous take-out orders: the hot dog with everything. For this project, Jóhannsdóttir works with sweaters that have deemed not wearable or fit for sale, of which there are always a large pile of at the Red Cross. She hopes that this exhibition gets people to rethink the way they look at clothes , especially those are that are classified as ruined or unsavable.

During DesignMarch, visitors can take part in creative mending workshops from Friday to Sunday from 12pm to 6pm. Learn more here.

Silhouette of man in khaki pants against black background with sunrise.

Follow Us

Get a sneak peek at the future of Icelandic design at Follow Us, an exhibition curated by Sara Jónsdóttir, the executive director of DesignMarch. Happening at the Gerðarsafn-Kópavogur Art Museum and featuring eight new and emerging designers and hitting on disciples including fashion, graphic design, information design, and product design, the show delves into new frontiers of design and the challenges of working in the contemporary context. From sustainability and society’s interaction with (and use of) man-made ecosystems to the utilization of animal products and the future of the fashion industry, the subjects tackled in Follow Us bring viewers face to face with the decisions they make in their everyday lives, and how that has the potential to effect greater systems.

Follow Us opens May 20th and run through the 23rd. Hours, info, and a full list of designers here.

Portraits of Icelandic designers against a yellow background.

FÓLK 2021: Circular Design

FÓLK, the burgeoning Icelandic design company, has only been around since 2017, but it has already become a creative hub known for bringing together some of the county’s most progressive designers to create products for a more sustainable lifestyle. As part of DesignMarch 2021, FÓLK is premiering six new product lines and designers in its new downtown Reykjavík showroom. The circularity of materials is one of FÓLKs main focuses and the brand’s latest project, Circular Design, focuses on the recycling and re-use of local materials. Collaborating designers include Studio Flétta, Theodóra Alfreðsdóttir, and Ragna Sara Jónsdóttir.

During DesignMarch FÓLK will host a pop-up shop in its showroom, as well as a Q&A event with brand designer and founder Ragna Sara Jónsdóttir. More info here.

Square wooden boxes on a wall with slips of paper being printed out of them.


See the latest work from interdisciplinary artist and musician Halldór Eldjárn, whose work focuses on nature and technology, their interactions and intersections, and what happens when ideas and concepts from each merge. Inorganic looks at how patterns, sounds and textures found in nature can be mathematically formulated in an autonomous way to create a new, “inorganic” view of nature. This exhibition will consist of three works including The Plant Printer, which brings together a microcontroller, a light sensor and a receipt printer that prints out a generative plant pattern based on amount of light in the room, and Herba Stochia, a series of generative pictures resembling natural herbs. Using a mathematical system that simulates plant growth, the plant is “grown” inside a computer and printed on paper using a pen plotter and a Japanese calligraphy pen filled with Icelandic crowberry ink.

More details here. See the Plant Printer in action here.

A peach-colored rectangular building designed by architect Sigvaldi Thordarson.

A Love Letter to Sigvaldi Thordarson

A celebration of one of Iceland’s most prominent midcentury architects, Sigvaldi Thordarson, A Love Letter to Sigvaldi Thordarson will be released on May 19. What started in 2015 as artist Loji Höskuldsson’s bucket-list goal to photograph every house and building Thordarson ever designed (documented on the Instagram account @lojiho), eventually morphed into a book that captures the work of a career cut too short by an untimely death. Known for his signature colors, mustard yellow and green-blue, and unique, geometric shapes, Thordarson was an advocate for modernism in Icelandic architecture, and he greatly influenced future architects and designers.

In addition to the book release, there will be a guided bus tour around the city to view examples of Thordarson’s work, as well as a toast and party afterwards. More information here.

A blue and orange graphic with staircases and Icelandic writing.

Architecture and Public Health: Can we design health?

Design is much more than making pretty objects or experimental buildings. On May 19, join a panel of industry experts for a full day talks that look at how design can have an impact on global health. The Architects Association of Iceland (AÍ), The Icelandic Landscape Architects Association (FÍLA), and The Association of Interior Design (FHI) will come together to discuss topics including living green-walls, how gardens and landscape can impact mental and physical health, the importance of exposure to natural light, the connection between architecture and disease, among others.

Full schedule and list of speakers here.


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