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Reykjavik’s New Design District

What do creatives see in abandoned docks and old fishing sheds? Opportunity. Now the City of Reykjavik is working with local designers to makeover its old fishing harbor into Iceland’s first design district.

Folks from the Iceland Design Centre tend to identify the “Design District” as starting at least several blocks west of the magnificent Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center.

Reykjavik creates this kind of frozen-in-time picture with its colorful corrugated-clad houses and ice capped mountains. But that picture is changing—across the world, Iceland’s first generation of homegrown designers are making waves in fashion, architecture, product design and more. Back home, they’re filling up the capital city’s deserted industrial spaces with their workshops and galleries, and spawning a renaissance in a city that has never been so alive. Nowhere is this more evident than in Reykjavik’s old harbor district. A couple of years ago designers started moving in, turning former fishing sheds and factories into buzzing studio space. Shops and cafes have followed suit. And now the city has plans underway to further develop the area into a vibrant live/work area close to the city center. Here are some of the cornerstones of Reykjavik’s budding new design district.

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