Icelandic Design Awards

The Icelandic Design Award honours the best Icelandic design and architecture. The importance of design in our society, culture and business has been growing steadily, and it is therefore vital to increase the understanding of good design and highlight the value of quality.

The Icelandic Design Award will be awarded for the tenth time this year (2023), and to mark the occasion, the award categories have been increased to three: Product // Place // Project.

The jury nominates three projects in each category, and one winner in each category receives the Icelandic Design Award 2023, which is both an honor and a monetary award.

From the beginning the Icelandic Design Award has been awarded across different disciplines of design and architecture. By increasing the categories, an opportunity is created to reward different priorities and at the same time increase the number of nominations and award winners. The change is made in close cooperation with the Centre's back office.

Icelandic Design Award 2023 - categories

Product 

The category calls for outstandingly designed projects that have been produced. A variety of items from different materials, garments, furniture, prints, clay, textiles, jewelry or services can be considered.

Place 

The category calls for outstandingly designed projects that have their place in the space. Various spaces, buildings, districts, squares, parks and places are considered.

Project

The category calls for outstanding designed projects that have been executed. A variety of ideas, communication, experiences, exhibitions and solutions are considered.

The Iceland Design Award will be awarded to a designer, architect, design team or studio for outstanding recent projects. When selecting award winners, we are looking for projects that excel and can stand as representatives of the best in the field of design and architecture. The projects must reflect quality and be effective, include creative thinking, clever solutions, careful implementation, focus on aesthetics and professionalism in working methods. We also look at whether the projects are user-friendly, innovative and have a positive effect on quality of life, value creation and sustainability.

In addition, the Icelandic Design Awards also include honorary award and recognition for the best investment in design.

Best investment in design recognizes successful investment in design or architecture in the past year. It is awarded over to a company that has incorporated design in the core of its operations to create value and increase competitiveness.

Honorary award is a recognition given to a person who has achieved exceptional success in their work, has been very influential in their professional field, or has delivered outstanding lifetime work in the field of design and architecture in Iceland.

The Iceland Design Awards 2023 will take place on November 9th in Gróska.

The Icelandic Design Award is established by Iceland Design and Architecture in collaboration with the Iceland Academy of the Arts and the Museum of Design and Applied Art.

The Icelandic Design Award

Plasplan

Plastplan is a design studio and plastic recycling company that, since its establishment in 2019, has been characterized by great creativity, experimental processes, contrivance, and a strong vision. During these three years, Plastplan has been dedicated to actualizing the life cycle of plastic by fetching plastic waste from local businesses and developing and producing not only beautiful new items in their own product line, but also practical items for businesses they are in partnership with. One example of their projects is interior and furniture design for Höfuðstöðin, art gallery and cultural center built around Chromo Sapiens, an installation by Shoplifter Art / Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir. The design is successful in its effort to create a multi-functional setting which both reflects on the art by Shoplifter and moves in parallel to it in a remarkable manner.

The impact of Plastplan is not only measured by the productivity of their machines, rather it is the vision that guides the work and is an inspiration to businesses and designers far and wide. Plastplan has focused on knowledge transfer in their community, which has yielded more and more partnerships with businesses that want to establish locally recycled plastic materials. Many want to do the right thing but have often been challenged by the lack of localized resources for recycling and production, which have instead often been outsourced to businesses in other countries. This removes the process from the hands of the consumer and therefore makes it largely invisible. The jury rewards Plastplan with the Icelandic Design Awards for their vision, their design, and their circulation of materials. Not only for doing things well, but also for doing the right thing.

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Nominations

Dvergreitur is a successfully designed densification of an urban area and well executed by its creators; architects, contractor, and Hafnafjörður municipality. The new buildings harmoniously blend with the scale and form of older buildings nearby and create valuable spaces between the structures, despite their density. The choice of material is modern but skillfully references the surrounding buildings in reduced scale and deliberate variation. When observed more closely, there is playfulness in the structures’ forms, and perhaps even a clash, providing an entertaining, if not amusing appearance.

The project named Dversgreitur is a recently finished mixed used development in the heart of Hafnarfjörður. Previously, the plot was occupied by a factory building, called Dvergur. The main focus of the project was to design new buildings in harmony and with respect and consideration to the sensitive appearance of the surrounding buildings. The aim of the design was to create a feeling of a village, an appealing setting for everyday life where both residents who share their own common area in the sheltered courtyard, and guests who visit shops and services on the ground floors, can thrive.

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Edda, center for Icelandic Studies, is located in the University area in Reykjavík. The building is unique and impressive. Impeccable and professional work with attention to detail both on the outside and inside. The oval shape of the building and the texture of the exterior hints at something valuable hidden inside. Edda is an open and bright building with beautiful interiors which emphasize airiness and light. The building has been a long way coming and it is pleasing to see this important and ambitious building marking a turning point for the dissemination of cultural heritage in Iceland.. 

The building formally opened this spring and is now a key building for Icelandic society as it is now home to the Icelandic Manuscripts, a treasure trove of Icelandic national heritage. The building stands in a reflecting pond and has a copper cladding with stylized copies of text from manuscripts, which both decorates the walls and arouses curiosity about what lives within. The new building is designed and built to unite the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies and the University of Iceland Faculty of Icelandic and Comparative Cultural Studies. Edda allows us to preserve and visitors to access the Icelandic Manuscripts, Iceland's most precious cultural heritage, for a long time to come.

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Hlöðuberg is a unique home and artist´s studio  in Skarðsströnd overlooking Breiðafjörður. The house is designed with respect for history, nature and environment. The design’s premise comes across clearly in each decision behind this work, resulting in a clear concept and unique sense of place. Reuse and efficiency are reflected in the selection of all materials, the project is in the spirit of the latest trends in architecture, where the reuse of materials and environmental considerations are dominant.

Studio Bua has redesigned and transformed a derelict concrete barn in Skarðsströnd into a bright and modern home and artist’s studio. The structure of the house is a building of corrugated steel rising from the preexisting concrete base which forms the base of the lower floor. The main feature of the piece is the reclamation of the barn by building the house inside its original walls and on top of them. The interior design is spartan but skillfully planned, resulting in diverse spaces which coalesce into making the house feel more spacious on the inside than it looks from the outside

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The signpost system, Vegrún, is well adapted to nature while also taking into account the specific conditions of each place, whether it be a live monitoring and information system in Reynisfjara, access management in Kirkjufell, or flexible signposts for the volcanic eruptions in Reykjanes. We do not always notice that the items we come across in our daily lives are results of detailed and carefully planned design. Vegrún is a good example of this. It is a comprehensive project with especially perceptive and professional solutions. The clear consideration for each detail results in a beautiful and compelling design.

The signpost and trail system is an inter-disciplinary design project under the auspices of the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Climate and the Ministry of Culture and Business. The artwork is created by Kolofon and a wide group of designers and specialists with the goal of creating a concordant, versatile, and practical system that is easily accessible to any user in any part of the country. 

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Interment is a complex project that tells the unique story of a building and how modernistic expectations of urban development gain new meaning as time goes on. The building loses its purpose, it fails to find a new role in the contemporary world and is disqualified from the game. The author presents the content through different mediums: a performance, installation, film and finally a book. The power of the machine is presented in the film and the viewers look helplessly at the demolition of the building and the resulting waste of raw materials with the city’s everyday life in the background. The end of a building is the end of ideas about single-use buildings, grounding. 

The book intertwines the story of the building’s life and death with the author’s story and ideas. The author enters the large building of the Industrial Bank of Iceland on Lækjargata and from there into the light of ideas and dreams that live in the built environment. 

The large building of the Industrial Bank of Iceland on Lækjargata was built in the 1970s in the spirit of international visions, but more than half a century later the building is doomed to be demolished to make room for  new buildings with a different role. With Interment, architect Anna María Bogadóttir, creates a unique and influential work that has managed to generate interesting discussions in Iceland. Interment pushes people to think about architecture and its role in the modern world and the need for a change, the life of buildings, re-use, environmental considerations and circular thinking. The approach is artistic and professional, but at the same time personal, so the result is appealing to a diverse group. 

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Pizza time is a project, a performance and a very interesting experiment that shows how with design thinking it is possible to shed light on the use of leftover products and their value in a very fun and remarkable way.

Pizza Time with Flétta design studio and Ýrúrarí textile designer was a five-day performance that took place at DesignMarch 2023 where designers felted wool pizzas from Icelandic wool industry leftovers and sold them to customers just like normal pizzas. The artwork's setting was built around a felting machine which played the role of a pizza oven, and the designers played the roles of pizza makers and waiters. Playfulness was the prevailing sentiment of the overall representation and execution of the artwork, apparent in the design of the menus, the costumes, the setting, and the product itself. The performance space, a store space in the middle of Laugavegur shopping street in Reykjavík, had large windows that provided guests with a clear view of the whole process, including the manufacturing of the textile products which normally are made in closed spaces.

The designers of Pizza Time managed to create a memorable experience, and a very interesting social experiment, that attracted many interested guests. The wool pizzas were a hit and sold out, there were long queues and the designers could not keep up with the demand during the amazing five days of Pizza Time.

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Hovering Trails is a specially designed trail system that protects nature from degradation and provides access for people in wheelchairs.
The design of the trails responds to the urgent call for strengthening the infrastructure in tourism and is a way to upgrade gravel paths in an environmentally and socially responsible way. The project is multi-layered, it meets the need for universal design and nature protection. Better access to nature brings health benefits and a higher quality of life for all who enjoy it. The trails are designed with the most vulnerable areas in mind; such as lava fields, geothermal areas and swamps without the foundation of the paths being destroyed.
Nature protection is the main focus in the design and the installation aims for minimal nature intervention so the trails can be installed and removed without leaving any marks. The construction follows the rules of universal design and thus ensures access to untouched nature for people who use wheelchairs. The trails increase the potential for this group to enjoy outdoor activities, which often is limited due to accessibility. The designers Birgir Þ. Jóhannsson and Laurent Ney have created a simple and easy solution to facilitate everyone's access to nature.

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RANRA x Salomon is a collaboration between RANRA design studio and the international outdoor brand Salomon designing environmentally friendly footwear. 

The designers approach to the project is from an environmental and sustainability perspective, which lays the groundwork for material selection and production. The shoes are highly sought after, made in the spirit of “gorpcore” fashion, which borders on outdoor and fashion clothing and appeals to those who want to focus on the environment, but also to those who are not so aware of it. RANRA’s innovative materials, professional and unique craftsmanship and aesthetics shine through with a focus on natural dyes, recycled and reusable materials. The product’s marketing material was a big hit, as it presented the shoes in a fun way with references to Scandinavian food traditions, soil, people and animals. 

Ranra is a design studio by Arnar Már Jónsson and Luke Stevens based in London and Reykjavík that specializes in outdoor clothing designed for nature and the urban environment. The collaboration between RANRA and outdoor brand Salomon began in 2022 and has attracted worldwide attention. This is the second time that RANRA has designed the Cross Pro shoes produced by Salomon.

The Airbag is a new product designed by Studio Flétta for Fólk Reykjavík.
The Airbag is an example of innovation where the product is designed with a circular economy in mind. Waste from an industry that was previously not available for sale or use is transformed into a strong, multi-use pillow. The pillows are 96% recycled and the only new ingredient is the rope and the handle. 

Flétta goes virtually all the way with the recycling concept. The material can be separated once the product's lifetime is over, and the utilization of the material is maximized by keeping its changes to a minimum. Flétta was founded in 2018 by product designers Birta Rós Brynjólfsdóttir and Hrefna Sigurðardóttir, who have from the beginning focused on circular design in an uniquely creative way. The pillows were designed in collaboration with the design company FÓLK in 2020 for their product line, Circular Design, and made from used airbags in cars that would otherwise have gone to landfill. The Airbags are sourced from Netpartar, an environmentally certified car parts supplier. The fill is from leftover mattress foam from AnnTex and leftover fabric from 66° North. The sewing is by the Danish sewing house Huset Venture, a non-profit organization that provides work for people who run into obstacles in conventional work environments.

Airbag is a good example of new ways of thinking in design, which are now taking over and offering endless opportunities.

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Best investment in design

Fólk Reykjavík

Fólk Reykjavík was founded in 2017 with the aim to connect design and production with sustainability and circulating material. The company uses natural and recycled materials, such as stone, metal, glass, paper, certified wood from sustainably exploited forests, recycled steel, and recycled textiles. These materials have been used to produce tables, bookshelves, vases, candlesticks, and lamps, among other products.

Quality Icelandic design has been the guiding light for their business. The jury reckons that the company has succeeded in exhibiting what is possible in creating quality design and practical items with sustainability in mind. While production processes and marketing are usually the main obstacles for independent designers, Fólk Reykjavík has increased their product range through prosperous partnerships with Icelandic designers. The focus of their product development is to meet the requirements of sustainable development, and at the same time manufacturing durable products.

The jury concludes that the company's investment in design represents positive influence and an incentive for other businesses to acknowledge the possibilities involved with cooperation with skilled designers while being guided by sustainability and circulation of materials.

The company has exhibited its confidence in Icelandic design in a noteworthy and successful manner and therefore the recognition for best investment in design this year goes to Fólk Reykjavík.

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Honorary award

Reynir Vilhjálmsson, landscape architec

Reynir is a pioneer in Icelandic landscape architecture and the traces of both his design and his influence are widespread. He is among the very first educated Icelandic landscape architects and has created a legacy with a broad variety of projects. Among these are plans for residential areas including environmental design, recreational areas, playgrounds, and parks, but also other environmental projects such as avalanche barriers. Reynir has a unique sense for the environment and its shapes, and how built environment and natural landscape can be linked holistically.

Reynir was born in Reykjavík in 1934. He finished examination as a horticulturist from the State Horticultural School in Reykjar in 1953, and a postgraduate degree from Det kongelige haveselskabs anlægsgartnerskole in 1955. He then graduated as a landscape architect from Det Kongelige Kunstakademis Arkitektskole in Copenhagen in 1961. Reynir worked for a time in Denmark and with planning projects in Greenland. Soon after his return home to Iceland, he founded a private practice, Reynir Vilhjálmsson Design Studio, in 1963 and in 1989 he established the studio Landscape Architects Reynir Vilhjálmsson and Þráinn Hauksson, and finally he founded the design studio Landslag in 1999. During his years in Denmark, Reynir adopted an interdisciplinary approach to the work of architects, landscape architects, and engineers, and continuously applied this approach in his work.

Upon his return to Iceland, Reynir was one of the specialists that laid the groundwork for the general zoning plan for the city of Reykjavík, which was in the making for the first time. He also worked on zoning plans for the areas Árbær and Breiðholt. During his career of over 40 years, Reynir has laid the foundation for green spaces in Reykjavík by providing them with a more sheltered and human environment. He has shaped some the most popular recreational areas in the city: Elliðaárdalur, Laugardalur and Klambratún. 

Reynir has always been active and influential within the architectural society. In 1978, Reynir and other architects founded the Icelandic Association for Architects (Félag íslenskra landslagsarkitekta, FÍLA) and Reynir served as its director. Reynir was a mentor for many landscape architects and others that work with shaping built environment.

Reynir has always based his work on the various attributes that are associated with quality-built environment. He focused on the impact of weather and wind direction, access for children to playgrounds and recreational areas, and linking private and public spaces. In his first planning projects, Reynir laid the groundwork for the green public spaces that still today are the city's main landmarks. Reynir has cooperated with several architects on developing parks and open spaces around buildings and through that had considerate influence on the environment of the city landscape we have today. In this work, the focus has always been on a holistic approach to the building, the landscape, and the surrounding environment, in an integral interaction between the interior and the exterior. National and University Library of Iceland is a well know example of Reynir's design, his capacity to make interesting and unexpected spaces shaped by rocks, passageways, vegetation, and a great sense of landscape in the larger context. The avalanche barriers in Siglufjörður are examples of landscaping that are especially gratifying, positioned in harmony with the natural environment while also providing new access to enjoy nature in this area.

In 2010 Reynir received the Grand Cross of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon, an honorary recognition given by the president, for his pioneer work in planning and shaping of the built environment. He has also received international awards, for example the avalanche barriers in Siglufjörður were nominated for the Barba Rosa-European Landscape Prize in 2003 and received a special mention.

Reynir is a pioneer in landscape architecture in Iceland who has greatly influenced the city landscape and planning in Reykjavík, which we will continue to enjoy for many years to come.

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Jury of the Icelandic Design Award 2023

  • Sigríður Sigurjónsdóttir

    chairman of jury, Icelandic Design Award
  • Þorleifur Gunnar Gíslason

    grapich designer, FÍT
  • Margrét Kristín Sigurðardóttir

    Director - PR and Communications, SI - the Federation of Icelandic Industries
  • Erling Jóhannesson

    Goldsmith and president of BÍL
  • Guðrún Sóley Gestsdóttir

    Media personality and culture specialist
  • Tor Inge Hjemdal

    Architect and CEO of DOGA
  • Halldór Eiríksson

    Architect and owner of TARK
  • Eva María Árnadóttir

    Fashion designer and Dean of architecture, design and fine art at IUA