Exploring the possibilities for small-scale design and production in East Iceland, a series of workshops saw four designers collaborating with local practitioners. The designers have now created stunning, contemporary products – using locally sourced materials and skills – which are on show now at Spark Design Space in Reykjavik, forming the exhibition Austurland: Designs from Nowhere.

In the autumn of 2013, the four designers Max Lamb, Þórunn Árnadóttir, Julia Lohmann and Gero Grundmann worked in close collaboration with local practitioners in Egilsstaðir, Djúpivogur, Eskifjörður, Vopnafjörður and Norðfjörður. Sharing stories, skills and knowledge, each of the workshops started with an intensive learning process, to help understand better the potential of the materials and resources found amongst their new surroundings.

For Max, this meant exploring the hillsides south of Djúpivogur to learn about the geology of the mountains and consider the potential uses for the found rock. Þórunn gained rudimentary net-making skills at her workshop, while Julia and Gero roamed the coastline in Borgarfjörður collecting seaweed and driftwood samples to test for suitability in their designs.

The realised products reveal an intriguing mix of narratives, interspersing old and new materials and techniques, celebrating the collaborative nature of the project and demonstrating the range of resources, skills and materials that can be found in the area. The designers worked with established companies, such as the Egersund net-making factory in Eskifjörður, and alongside individuals with specialist knowledge of local materials, like Vilmundur Þorgrímsson, a geology expert from Djúpivogur. Their unique contributions to the design processes can be seen in the exhibited work, which makes use of fishing net, reindeer antler, seaweed and driftwood, as well as volcano rock.

The project was made in collaboration with Make by Þorpið (www.make.is).

Photos courtesy of Spark Design Space and Iceland Design Centre.


UPDATE: this project went on to win the first ever Iceland Design Award; read more here http://www.frameweb.com/news/winner-of-the-first-icelandic-design-award