Hey! It’s our first visit (in a long time) to someplace other than Scandinavia or Japan! Off to London with a three day stay in Kent for our friends Hollie & Pete’s wedding.
After a slightly terrifying taxi ride from the airport (did you know you can prebook a taxi that will meet you at the airport with a sign? Much better than traipsing through London with luggage on the tube and train after no sleep) we took a walk in the nearby village of Bearsted to grab a bite at a pub and take in the spring scenery.
Hi! We’re terrible at selfies and we’re ok with that.
Day two meant a hen spa day for me, and a trip over to Whitstable for John. Windy Corner Stores is a cute cafe.
When John has an idea in his head…vintage trench coat shopping…
Lunch was full at the highly recommended Wheelers Oyster Bar. Next time!
A perfect intimate wedding at The Secret Garden. Probably my last turn at bridesmaid.
Had to share this photo of the bride and groom, in front of this super rad Bluebird Coach. Coolest. I missed out on getting some inside detail shots, like the milk glass electric lights.
Kent was a nice easygoing start to our trip.
As we mentioned previously, Spark Design Space closed at the end of March. We were thankful that we had one last opportunity to check it out and to speak with owner Sigríður Sigurjónsdóttir.
We picked up one of the candleholders from Spark’s last show 1+1+1, whereby three design studios reimagine and collaborate on a variety of objects. This candlestick is comprised of elements designed separately by each group, and then put together to make about 30+ unique combinations.
I also attempted to impulse purchase the book Questions of Travel: William Morris in Iceland but ended up receiving it as a gift from Sigríður (thanks again!!!).
Also pictured: A sculpture by Paul Wackers and a vintage Alvar Aalto door handle.
Although these pretty Hafod Grange Paperweights hail from the UK (our next trip!), John has been obsessing over them for awhile. One for John.
Also pictured: Tapio Wirkkala copper bowl
One for Elodie.
Howell got this gorgeous sweater by As We Grow. Based out of Reykjavik, the company is trying to bring back a sense of value to children’s clothing, with the idea that it can be passed on. Really beautiful quality. I wanted to get the kids Icelandic sweaters but most of them can be a bit scratchy. This one is so soft. Howell hates when we put it on him but then we can’t take it off him. I have to hover by him while he eats so he doesn’t get food on it (he also refuses a bib). So I’d say he loves it.
[photo of Howell by Gaby]
During our last visit to Copenhagen, Denmark we had the pleasure to finally visit one of our favourite homes in the world. The home of iconic Danish furniture designer and architect Finn Juhl. The house has been profiled and photographed so many times, it already felt incredibly familiar to us, as if we know every detail in the house. Of course seeing the home in person is like switching on a light, something inside of us just gets turned on and during that visit we understood how important Finn Juhl as a designer, architect and artist was. You start to see all of the incredible nuances that you might not notice in photographs. For example in different rooms the ceilings are painted different colours, like a warm beige in the living room and a cool teal in the guest bedroom.
I think the interesting thing about Finn Juhl’s house is that he designed it when he was quite young, and as a work of architecture it is functional and simple. I think when people see images of his home we are struck by the Vilhelm Lundstrom painting of his wife above the Poet sofa, the soft patination on the cognac leather of his Chieftains chair, the Vibeke Klint runner, the Japanese textiles and African stools. It is his personal details that we are struck with, his masterful way of bringing warmth and texture into his home. The building itself is a perfect shell to be inhabited with many smaller rooms, various seating arrangements and compositions of art mostly by his friends and various collections.
Red bricks marking the entrance to the home, with a stool by Alvar Aalto peeking at us. Visitors are also immediately introduced to Juhl’s study in colour.
One of Finn Juhl’s most famous lounge chairs, the 45 chair.
Finn Juhl was on a mission to design everything in his home, including the porcelain service in the kitchen.
The Silver markings on this table indicate the placement for dishes and cutlery.
“One cannot create happiness with beautiful objects, but one can spoil quite a lot of happiness with bad ones.”
– Finn Juhl
The Reading chair sitting next to a wood sculpture by Erik Thommesen.
A Japanese duvet and pillow rest on Finn Juhl’s bed.
In my opinion Finn Juhl’s most beautiful dining chair, the 109 chair which was designed in 1946.
“It is so obvious that furniture should be used. If not, I have been seriously wrong. To me, it is so obvious that it also needs an artistic dimension, which makes it exciting and in harmony with its surroundings. However, furniture was not created only to be looked at. Furniture is an applied art, which is necessary for people in a home, and office of public spaces.”
– Finn Juhl
The Poet sofa was originally designed for Finn Juhl’s own home in 1941, and it looks perfect underneath the Lundstrom painting of Finn Juhl’s wife Hanne Wilhelm.
There was a great Matisse show at the Ordrupgaard Museum (which owns the Finn Juhl house).
A coffee break and walk through the sculpture garden.
Zaha Hadid extension.
We dropped by the Muuto headquarters to have lunch at their lovely rooftop patio, complete with nice planted flowers, herbs, and vegetables. We’d like to get something like this going on our back roof.
Grabbed dinner at Almanak in The Standard.
Lunch at Øl & Brød
View of Reykjavik, from The Presidential Residence. Guests of Design March were invited to meet the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson.
John signing the guest book.
After a speech we were left to mingle and explore the residence.
In the basement there are some excavated spaces. From their website:
The history of Bessastaðir has been closely associated with the history of Iceland since the times of the settlement in the 9th century AD. Archeological excavations have shown that the first inhabitants of Bessastaðir settled there before AD 1000, and ever since the site has been inhabited. In the 13th century the great writer Snorri Sturluson had one of his farms there. After Snorri’s death, the king of Norway confiscated the property, and during the remainder of the middle ages it was used by top representatives of the foreign rulers of Iceland. In the 17th century Bessastaðir was the residence of the most powerful representative of the Danish monarch in Iceland.
Wild weather, we arrived with a dark cloud looming and then there was this spectacular whiteout with a glowing yellow sun, and then clear skies.
We also spent some time with Ingibjörg Hanna Bjarnadóttir of original Krummi bird hanger fame. She took us around to various exhibitions that she was participating in. Above is a tiny house named Stöðlakot (that you can apparently rent via Air B n B) where they had one exhibition.
This piece was showing at Epal, in collaboration with Umemi. I can’t find any more details but it is a rug and the pattern is sound waves. Regretting not picking up a few Umemi Knot Cushions for the kids.
We also had the pleasure with spending some time with Andrea Maack, whereby she showed us her newest scents and bottle design, available soon at Mjölk (currently sold out).
On our last day we visited The Culture House, which was a new stop for us, prompted by a designer we met while having a bite in the hotel cafe. I wish we had more time as there were quite a few exhibitions happening. On the left is Universe, a piece that is a part of the Primitiva show by Katrín Ólína Pétursdóttir.
A visit to Reykjavik is not complete without a visit to Mokka for coffee and waffles. Love the sign.
One major thing we noticed since our last visit is the huge rise in tourism. Tourist shops line the main street, pushing design shops out of the downtown, and a long lineup at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur.
One casualty to rising rents is Spark Design Space, which will be closing April 1.
1+1+1 is an experimental collaboration between designers from three Nordic countries – Hugdetta from Iceland, Petra Lilja from Sweden and Aalto+Aalto from Finland. The project examines and reimagines objects by having each studio design an object consisting of three distinct parts and then mixing the parts up into unpredictable combinations.
Clever show. They created parameters such as the dimensions, and three components. Then each of the three design studios takes the elements to create new combinations.
Founded by Sigríður Sigurjónsdóttir, Spark has been an important gallery to visit since our first trip, and we will really miss it as a beacon for local design and art.
We attended Design March in Reykjavik, Iceland the other week. Previously we had only ever visited Iceland during the summertime, when the sun is always present, so it was surprising to me when I looked out the window of the airplane and saw complete darkness. Arriving just before 6am (1am our time at home), the darkness and intense sideways rain both shoved us into bed until 11am. Usually we just grab breakfast and push through the day, but the winter is like that.
We started the day off at the Grey Cat, which has retained its charm and coziness.
Thankful for the brightly coloured buildings on such a grey day.
First visit to Harpa. The last time we visited it was nearly complete, but not open yet.
We only managed to catch the last two talks of the day thanks to our excruciating jet lag (I think parenting children under the age of five and travelling across time zones are two things that just shouldn’t happen at the same time – next year we’re going south).
Stepping into the future by Dr. Thorvaldur Ingvarsson, EVP of Research & Development, Össur reminded us that design is more than tableware, furniture, graphics, etc. Prosthetic design improves quality of life, and I admire this Icelandic company for its commitment to continually innovating and pushing their product further.
See The Unseen by Lauren Bowker, The Textile Alchemist (pictured above) was inspiring in that Lauren has a lot of vision and passion, and has brought together science, textiles and performance to bring understanding and greater meaning to things like pain and emotion.
Design March opening party at the art gallery.
The weather was as they say. If you don’t like the weather, just wait 5 minutes. In one day we saw rain, snow, hail, wind, sun, all of which was on repeat by the hour.
Dinner at local spot Snaps. Nice atmosphere and good food. One of the only new (to us) places we tried on this trip.
Post dinner we popped into Geysir for a few minutes and when we left this was happening. Just wait 5 minutes…
We stayed at the relatively new Icelandair Marina Hotel and it was a great hotel. Nice rooms, better than standard buffet breakfast (or you can get a different breakfast option at the cafe), and nice communal spaces if you are so inclined to meet up with others or want to get out of your room for a bit.
As an aside, I just revisited all of our posts about Reykjavik, which seem to be mostly still relevant and can be visited here. A few changes:
Dill restaurant is no longer in Nordic House but it moved to a new location and I highly recommend getting a reservation. We missed out this time…
Friða Frænka the antique shop is closed. From what I gather the owner was ready to retire. A loss to downtown Reykjavik for sure.
Spark Design Space will be closing April 1, 2016 due to rising rent. Another loss for downtown Reykjavik.
Icelandic Fish & Chips seems to have moved down the street and another fish and chips place has replaced it? Weird?
Last year when we visited Kumu in Tokyo, we picked up this beautiful mobile, which currently hangs over Howell’s crib, accompanied by (and complimentary to) a Junpei Ori painting. Every baby needs a mobile, and we like to buy mobiles that can be enjoyed long past babyhood.
This particular piece caught our eye because it’s so delicate yet balanced, and its movement was so subtle.
I was particularly excited when the designer of the mobile contacted us via email, because she is actually a follower of the blog and read that we had bought her piece. Having lived in Japan, Annett shares our affinity for the Northern spirit and aesthetic.
Currently based in Portugal she picks up bits’n’pieces for the mobiles during long walks on the beach and in the streets of Lisbon.
Here are some descriptions of the mobiles she currently has up on her website:
room poetry made of found objects
in a silent conversation with air and light
a kinetic sculpture composed with found material
fragile metals and stones transformed by the ocean