Eight highlights from DesignMarch 2024 in Iceland

Each year at DesignMarch, Iceland sets out to prove that being a remote island with a tiny population isn’t a barrier to having a thriving design scene. Here, Dezeen rounds up the highlights of the 2024 festival.

DesignMarch is Iceland’s biggest design festival, with more than 100 exhibitions taking place across Reykjavík over five days.

Despite its name, DesignMarch hasn’t taken place in March since before the pandemic. Held in late April, this year’s festival coincided with Iceland’s official first day of summer – and locals were out in full force amid the rare clement weather to pack out the programmed events.

Here, we have gathered eigth highlights of the events and projects on show:

Merge cacao husk exhibition by Theodóra Alfreðsdóttir at DesignMarchMerge cacao husk exhibition by Theodóra Alfreðsdóttir at DesignMarch

Merge by Theodóra Alfreðsdóttir

London-based Icelandic product designer Theodóra Alfreðsdóttir teamed up with artisanal chocolate brand Omnom to create an exhibition exploring the potential of cacao bean husk – a by-product of the chocolate-making process.

Alfreðsdóttir made small sculptures from the husk that acted as plinths for vegan confectionaries of complementing shapes moulded by Omnom’s chocolatiers.

In a small side room at the Omnom Chocolate Factory in Reykjavík, visitors were invited to try each of the chocolates – flavoured with different Icelandic ingredients – in turn and reflect on the food’s origins.

Secondary exhibition at DesignMarch by Studio ErindrekarSecondary exhibition at DesignMarch by Studio Erindrekar

Secondary by Studio Erindrekar and Sigmundur Páll Freysteinsson

Íris Indriðadóttir and Signý Jónsdóttir, who make up Studio Erindrekar, are eider farmers as well as product designers. With their Secondary research project exhibited at Ásmundarsalur during DesignMarch, the design duo investigated uses for second-class eiderdown.

Eiderdown is a highly insulating material harvested from the nests of eider ducks. Despite being warm and lightweight, second-class eiderdown is usually legally unsellable.

To demonstrate the material’s potential, Indriðadóttir and Jónsdóttir collaborated with fashion designer and natural textile specialist Sigmundur Páll Freysteinsson to produce clothing prototypes made from secondary eiderdown.

Ding Dong by Jón Helgi HólmgeirssonDing Dong by Jón Helgi Hólmgeirsson
Photo by Studio Fræ

Hæ/Hi – Welcome

For the last three years at DesignMarch, a group of designers from Iceland and Seattle have come together to exhibit around a theme as part of the Hæ/Hi collaborative project.

For this year’s theme, contributors played with the concept of the entryway to the home. Designs included a pair of soft padded door coverings by Weird Pickle and a rope coat rack called Loopy, by Thórunn Árnadóttir, as well as some unusual doorbells by Jón Helgi Hólmgeirsson (pictured).

“I look at this group as an opportunity to allow myself to be experimental to a degree and try out new materials, ideas and processes – and there is something about the group dynamic and the openness of the concept that makes that possible,” exhibition co-curator Hólmgeirsson told Dezeen.

1+1+1 exhibition at DesignMarch by Hugdetta, Petra Lilja and Aalto + Aalto1+1+1 exhibition at DesignMarch by Hugdetta, Petra Lilja and Aalto + Aalto

1+1+1 by Hugdetta, Petra Lilja and Aalto + Aalto

Since 2015, Icelandic design studio Hugdetta has collaborated with Sweden’s Petra Lilja and Finland’s Aalto + Aalto on an experimental project that sees each make an object composed of three distinct parts that are then put together in unusual combinations.

The 1+1+1 exhibition at Ásmundarsalur art gallery presented the group’s recent creations, such as tables and stools made from concrete cast in the ground. Sand and stone for the material were sourced from a section of the Skjálfandafljót River in northern Iceland that runs through Hugdetta’s farm.

Also on show were candleholders comprising different material and colour combinations and a set of ceramic wine glasses.

Smá Flís (A Little Chip) by 66°North and ÝrúraríSmá Flís (A Little Chip) by 66°North and Ýrúrarí

Smá Flís (A Little Chip) by 66°North and Ýrúrarí

This year for its annual DesignMarch project, Icelandic outerwear brand 66°North teamed up with textile designer and artist Ýr Jóhannsdóttir, better known as Ýrúrarí.

The collaboration saw Ýrúrarí reinvigorate defective 66°North sweaters using patches made from production off-cuts and parts of other items deemed unsellable, in an attempt to raise awareness about the value of clothing repair.

Her patch designs played with the brand’s logo, morphing it into cartoonish facial features. Known for her humorous knitted designs, Ýrúrarí was involved with Pizza Time, the surprise hit of last year’s DesignMarch that saw visitors served woollen pies.

Rosemi Daybed by RÓRosemi Daybed by RÓ

The Rósemi Daybed by RÓ

Icelandic design studio RÓ, made up of Haraldur Karlsson and Litten Nystrøm, presented a piece of furniture that aims to prioritise the well-being of people and the planet.

The Rósemi Daybed is made in Iceland from Icelandic poplar wood and a wool-stuffed mattress coloured using botanical dyes.

Its minimalist design uses only four screws and can be assembled or disassembled without tools.

Inorganic Resonators speakers shown at DesignMarchInorganic Resonators speakers shown at DesignMarch

Inorganic Resonators by Inorganic Audio

These speakers that don’t look like speakers were specially shaped to give the way they project music an acoustic feel, making them useful for recording or for intimate live performances.

Developed by Icelandic startup Inorganic Audio with support from the Icelandic government‘s Design Fund, they are built using Icelandic materials

Prototypes of the speakers, whose forms reference wave patterns, were on show during DesignMarch.

Reflections lava rock diffuser exhibition by Davíð Georg Gunnarsson at DesignMarchReflections lava rock diffuser exhibition by Davíð Georg Gunnarsson at DesignMarch
Photo by Aldís Páls (also top)

Reflections by Davíð Georg Gunnarsson

Architect Davíð Georg Gunnarsson put together an exhibition focusing on a collection of diffusers made from lava rock.

The diffusers themselves are a collaboration between potter Aldís Einarsdóttir, glassblower Anders Vange, and local perfumery Fischersund, and are sold by Icelandic homeware brand Rammagerðin. Chunks of lava rock doused in essences are heated by a candle in a pot made from ceramic or glass, emitting scents.

Occupying a space in Rammagerðin’s newly opened flagship store, the the spa-like exhibition space had a large lava boulder suspended at its centre.

The photography is courtesy of DesignMarch.

DesignMarch took place at venues across Reykjavík from 24 to 28 April. For more events, exhibitions and talks in architecture and design visit Dezeen Events Guide.

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