Greinasafni: Icelandic Times
Carrying the Torch for the Founders of Reykjavík

- Design Shop Kraum

One of the oldest houses in Reykjavík is located in Aðalstræti 10, where design shop Kraum currently offers unique design by over 200 designers. It is very fitting that Icelandic products are being sold in this historical building since it was originally built to promote Icelandic production.

In the mid-17th century there was very little production going on in Iceland and what we now know as Reykjavík was little more than farmlands and empty fields. An entrepreneur called Skúli Fógeti wanted to change that and had several factories set up in what became Reykjavík’s first street. Aðalstræti 10 is now the only house left of Skúli’s enterprise and therefore one of the oldest houses in Reykjavík. After the factory was shut down the building was changed to a residence, where some of Iceland’s most prominent citizens have stayed, including Jón Sigurðsson, the leader of the 19th century Icelandic independence movement.

The perfect fit

  • This plate is a helpful reminder of excess and immoderation,
    showing you the Icelandic consumption pattern while
    you eat. Photos: Ingolfur Juliusson

When a housing conservation committee gained control of the house and started renovations it was decided that it was desirable for such an historical building to house a business connected with its origin. Halla Bogadóttir, manager of Kraum, was at that time looking for a venue for an ambitious business idea. “I felt that I and many of my colleagues were too scattered across town and for many, operating a business was taking too much time from the design part. We wanted to find a venue in which we could present the best that Icelandic designers have to offer in one place and when Aðalstræti 10 came our way we knew it was a perfect fit. We wanted to put special emphasis on Icelandic products and products with a close connection to Iceland’s culture, nature and history. What we didn’t want was to sell souvenirs mass-produced on different continents. So, in a way, we feel as if we are carrying the torch for Skúli Fógeti,” says Halla.

Be Profound like Halldór Laxness

  • “Elephants of the North”
    Highly original whale
    sculptures made out of
  • Let the Icelandic cod light
    up your day with this
    chandelier made out of dried
    fish skin.

As a part of that effort Kraum started a competition where designers were invited to come up with products in the spirit of one of Iceland’s most prestigious painters, known simply as Erró. “The results were incredible and we now have on offer many of the items which came about from the contest at reasonable prices,” says Halla. One of these is the winning piece: a writing board in the shape of a caricature Erró made of Iceland’s most beloved author Halldór Laxness. Halldór, a Nobel Prize winner, was considered extremely witty and eloquent so whatever notes you write on the speech bubble emanating from his mouth will surely automatically become profound.
This year a new competition has started and this time it is the sculptor

  • Take the Icelandic nature
    home with you. There is
    real moss growing inside
    this ring, so remember
    to water it.
Ásmundur Sveinsson who sets the motif. “Last time we wanted to focus on more practical designs, but this time around we’re expanding and calling for clothing and ornamental items as well. We’re very excited to see the results, which will be made clear on 
  • Hang your clothes on
    Icelandic wood and rocks.
May 1st, the same day of the summer opening of Ásmundarsafn,” says Halla.

 During the so-called DesignMarch, Kraum will be especially crowded. From the 18th - 21st March, six new designers will display their works in Kraum. During this event Reykavík is expected to be full of interesting lectures and exhibitions reflecting the diversity in Icelandic design.

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