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September 19, 2012

Iceland’s fondness for innovation and design is no secret. What is surprising, however, is that the capital city lacked a proper gallery showcasing product design until recently. Sigríður Sigurjónsdóttir, a professor of product design at the Iceland Academy of Arts, saw an opportunity and opened Spark Design Space.

Spark, which houses design projects created by local Icelandic artists, hosts a new exhibition every two months. Sigríður opened the space to share some of her student’s work as well as other Icelandic designers. “There are a couple other galleries in Reykjavik, but they focus on fine art. This is the first gallery to dedicated to design,” she said.

Spark Design Space in downtown Reykjavik
Spark Design Space is centrally located in downtown Reykjavik, close to the city’s oldest shopping street, Laugavegur.
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Furniture objects by Brynjar Sigurðarson
The projects often feature the relationship between the designers and other professions. For example, Spark is currently showing work from Brynjar Sigurðarson that features furniture objects with no defined functions. Brynjar’s concept stemmed from a month-long trip to Vopnafjörður, a town in northeastern Iceland where he met farmers, fishermen, and shark hunters, among others. The methods and materials used for his design products came from experiences he had on his journey.Sigurðarson’s handmade sticks (shown here) incorporate the designer’s relationship with other Icelandic professionals, including local fishermen and shark hunters.
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Stoneware objects by Hanna Dis Whitehead
Sigríður is especially proud of the flexibility of the space. “If something comes along, we can feature a mini exhibition next to the original projects.” In addition to Brynjar’s exhibition, Hanna Dis Whitehead is currently showing her work consisting of stoneware slip clay objects. Hanna is particularly interested in the handles given to objects such as pot handles mugs.
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Swim cap designed by Unnur Valdís Kristjánsdóttir
The gallery displays a fashionable take on swim caps designed by Unnur Valdís Kristjánsdóttir.
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Sealblanket by Vik Prjonsdottir
Vik Prjonsdottir has gained international attention for their Sealblankets for children and adults.
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Detachable collar by Talvi Kaulus
Detachable winter collars are a big seller in the gallery’s shop.
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Self-watering pots by GrowME
GrowME, a self-watering pot for growing herbs, consists of two ceramic bowls, a balloon, soil, seeds, and a special thread.
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Colorful Icelandic wool blankets
Often referred to the backbone of Icelandic culture, wool blankets are on display.
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Art professor and store owner Sigríður Sigurjónsdóttir
Sigríður Sigurjónsdóttir, an art professor in Iceland, founded Reykjavik’s first design gallery.Reykjavik went without a design gallery due to the independence of local designers. There aren’t many opportunities to join a product design firm in Iceland, unlike graphic designers or architects. “If you are a designer in Iceland, you have to initiate your own projects,” said Sigríður. Reykjavik’s design community finally has a home.
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Spark Design Space in downtown Reykjavik
Spark Design Space is centrally located in downtown Reykjavik, close to the city’s oldest shopping street, Laugavegur.

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