Natural Tendencies at DesignMarch 2015

At DesignMarch 2015, exhibitors exalted the wonders of nature in their product designs that were on show (pictured: Superfolk's camping stool being taken on an outdoor adventure).

As spring fills the air in some parts of the world (though, perhaps not yet in Iceland), our thoughts return to the inspirational days of DesignMarch in Reykjavik last month. Products having natural form – and inspired by nature – are the focus of this report.

With this spring-like feeling, it is apt then that some of the first people I met on the trip were Gearóid and Jo Anne from the Irish studio Superfolk, who had an exhibition during the course of the design festival that was themed around spring-time and outdoor exploring. With a studio moto of 'discover nature everyday', what a better place to do that than in Iceland – and soon it was ascertained that it’s not only the local designers who are influenced by the wonders of the surroundings (see also the volcanic-inspired project of the Icelandic–French IIIF Collective, in the first report here). Another non-Icelandic designer showing her traditional designs with a twist was Laura Pokela from Finland, displaying as part of Design Migration's exhibition, with her handcrafted clay urns which incorporated such aspects as rope coils that are rooted in the designer’s remit to fuse disparate materials.

Icelandic craft-based collaborative projects having natural tendencies were also plentiful, with those on display including: the Designs From Nowhere project featuring, amongst other products, the skipping ropes of Þórunn Árnadóttir with their reindeer-antler handles; a new light developed from Icelandic herring nets designed by Hafsteinn Júlíusson and Karitas Sveinsdóttir (of HAF Studio) and made in collaboration with Icelandic netmakers as a reinterpretation of the classic crystal chandelier; the Wood You? student project which brings sustainability into focus with a series of ten products crafted from wood; the 3-year-long mission of Snæbjörn Stefánsson (of studio Hugdetta) and his replica of the world’s most expensive vase, painstaikingly reconstructed from 100 rings of plywood glued together; ceramics by Thora Finnsdottir inspired by everyday contrasts and resulting in forms that resemble underwater sea-creatures; and textiles and products by Margrét Oddný Leópoldsdóttir (of Gola & Glóra), showing as part of The Textile Guild of Iceland's Tvist/Twist exhibition, which were inspired by seaweed and manufactured following a strict environmental and ethical policy.

This brings us full circle, back once again to Superfolk and the studio's seaweed-inspired products – including the new collection of delicate, hand-burnished lino prints, themed around seasonal wild-food foraging. Is it spring-time yet? Can we go out exploring nature?

Photos courtesy of Iceland Design Centre and the designers.

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For our first report from DesignMarch 2015, click here.

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