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DesignMarch Iceland 2012

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For the fourth year in a row, product designers, architects, artists, and fashionistas opened their studio doors across Reykjavik, Iceland, for DesignMarch, a four-day roaming festival of art, design, crafts, whale foreskin cowboy boots, and late night parties soaked in birch-flavored schnapps. This year's event, held from March 22–25, attracted an estimated 35,000 people (about a tenth of the country's total population) and offered a frost-covered window into the burgeoning, wildly energetic—and sometimes wildly weird—design scene of the most northern capital on Earth.

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    Photo by: James Nestor

    Photo by: James Nestor

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  In what was the certainly the most surreal—and coldest—fashion show on earth, Iceland's 66 North showed off their latest line of outerwear at Blue Lagoon, a geothermal-heated spa and swimming hole located about an hour from downtown Reykjavik. Throngs of slack-jawed swimmers bobbed in disbelief as stocking-clad Nico lookalikes strutted along an ice-covered catwalk above the eerily blue waters of steamy water below. An alien landscape if there ever was one.  Photo by: James Nestor
    In what was the certainly the most surreal—and coldest—fashion show on earth, Iceland's 66 North showed off their latest line of outerwear at Blue Lagoon, a geothermal-heated spa and swimming hole located about an hour from downtown Reykjavik. Throngs of slack-jawed swimmers bobbed in disbelief as stocking-clad Nico lookalikes strutted along an ice-covered catwalk above the eerily blue waters of steamy water below. An alien landscape if there ever was one.

    Photo by: James Nestor

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  The Museum of Applied Art and Design challenged six up-and-coming fashion designers to rethink wool, Iceland's quintessential export. Entries ranged from pragmatic to fantastical, including one (pictured here) that harkened inadvertently to the classic 1990s horror flick, Hellraiser.  Photo by: James Nestor
    The Museum of Applied Art and Design challenged six up-and-coming fashion designers to rethink wool, Iceland's quintessential export. Entries ranged from pragmatic to fantastical, including one (pictured here) that harkened inadvertently to the classic 1990s horror flick, Hellraiser.

    Photo by: James Nestor

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  Reykjavik's premier design store, Epal, celebrated over 30 years in business by giving up its top floor to 20 local designers. A real bright spot were DEMO Workshop's hanging lamps, each handmade of teak, maple, or pine veneer with pick-and-choose cord colors to match your decor.  Photo by: James Nestor
    Reykjavik's premier design store, Epal, celebrated over 30 years in business by giving up its top floor to 20 local designers. A real bright spot were DEMO Workshop's hanging lamps, each handmade of teak, maple, or pine veneer with pick-and-choose cord colors to match your decor.

    Photo by: James Nestor

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  You've probably seen Sigga Heimis' designs at Ikea; in fact, chances are you have a few in your home. (She's done over a 100.) What really struck me at DesignMarch were these "Organ Glasses," blood-red handblown decorative glassware Heimis originally did for the Vitra Design Museum. "They are fragile, like the human organs themselves," she said.  Photo by: James Nestor
    You've probably seen Sigga Heimis' designs at Ikea; in fact, chances are you have a few in your home. (She's done over a 100.) What really struck me at DesignMarch were these "Organ Glasses," blood-red handblown decorative glassware Heimis originally did for the Vitra Design Museum. "They are fragile, like the human organs themselves," she said.

    Photo by: James Nestor

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  If I were to choose, I'd give upstart designer, Hafsteinn Juliusson the award for one of the DesignMarch 2012 best design...right after giving him the award for worst design. First, the good stuff: the Wheel of Nutrition plates, while being great dinner party conversation starters, serve a practical purpose by reminding us every meal what proportion of meat, vegetables, and grains we should eat. Now, the bad: Slim Chips, baked pieces of paper flavored with "organic tastes." "They are perfectly edible," said Juliusson, who, with his thick-rimmed glasses and shaggy hair is a dead-ringer for Jarvis Cocker. "China and other countries are already contacting me and trying to get them." Flavors include blueberry, peppermint, and sweet potato. To Juliusson's credit, he claims Slim Chips are more a conceptual art piece than a food product.  Photo by: James Nestor
    If I were to choose, I'd give upstart designer, Hafsteinn Juliusson the award for one of the DesignMarch 2012 best design...right after giving him the award for worst design. First, the good stuff: the Wheel of Nutrition plates, while being great dinner party conversation starters, serve a practical purpose by reminding us every meal what proportion of meat, vegetables, and grains we should eat. Now, the bad: Slim Chips, baked pieces of paper flavored with "organic tastes." "They are perfectly edible," said Juliusson, who, with his thick-rimmed glasses and shaggy hair is a dead-ringer for Jarvis Cocker. "China and other countries are already contacting me and trying to get them." Flavors include blueberry, peppermint, and sweet potato. To Juliusson's credit, he claims Slim Chips are more a conceptual art piece than a food product.

    Photo by: James Nestor

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  What La-Z-Boys are to midwestern suburbs, Fuzzy's—long-haired foot stools—are to Reykjavik. It's hard to find a design shop, restaurant, or even a living room without one. (I was literally tripping over them everywhere). Designer Sigurdur Mar Helgason made his first Fuzzy in 1972, and since been churning them out from downtown studio ever since.  Photo by: James Nestor
    What La-Z-Boys are to midwestern suburbs, Fuzzy's—long-haired foot stools—are to Reykjavik. It's hard to find a design shop, restaurant, or even a living room without one. (I was literally tripping over them everywhere). Designer Sigurdur Mar Helgason made his first Fuzzy in 1972, and since been churning them out from downtown studio ever since.

    Photo by: James Nestor

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  Local designers debuted a number of new products at the DesignMarch opening at the Reykjavik Art Museum on March 22. This chamber-within-a-chamber coffee cup designed by Didrik Steinsson keeps coffee warm and hands burn free with its inventive hollow longstem handle. And, as Steinsson could attest, it really works.  Photo by: James Nestor
    Local designers debuted a number of new products at the DesignMarch opening at the Reykjavik Art Museum on March 22. This chamber-within-a-chamber coffee cup designed by Didrik Steinsson keeps coffee warm and hands burn free with its inventive hollow longstem handle. And, as Steinsson could attest, it really works.

    Photo by: James Nestor

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  Sometimes the best design in Reykjavik is outside the studio doors. Case in point: the brilliant mosaic harbor scene by Gerður Helgadóttir that graces the street side of the Customs House downtown.  Photo by: James Nestor
    Sometimes the best design in Reykjavik is outside the studio doors. Case in point: the brilliant mosaic harbor scene by Gerður Helgadóttir that graces the street side of the Customs House downtown.

    Photo by: James Nestor

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  No, that's not carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, but a pig-intestine-and-blood "Haggis Torte" created by some local "food designers" as part of a four-year Designers and Farmers project updating regional foods into some brave new concoctions. Other delicacies included brittle, yogurt-type pops, and a rolled bread filled with something that tasted like shrimp but was not. When eating in Reykjavik, sometimes it's just better not to ask.  Photo by: James Nestor
    No, that's not carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, but a pig-intestine-and-blood "Haggis Torte" created by some local "food designers" as part of a four-year Designers and Farmers project updating regional foods into some brave new concoctions. Other delicacies included brittle, yogurt-type pops, and a rolled bread filled with something that tasted like shrimp but was not. When eating in Reykjavik, sometimes it's just better not to ask.

    Photo by: James Nestor

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