Before we go we would like to say that we are incredibly grateful for the lecture series that was organised for DesignMarch. From our perspective it makes all of the weeks events more desirable to be associated with this kind of lecture series. The talk featured distinguished national and international names who spoke about relevant, topical research, adding greater substance to the fun of the festival. May this kind of lecture series become a bigger part of Design March in the future.

We came to film the lunch break at Tjarnarbíó, and stayed for the last talk and part of discussion, where we got to hear Jerszy Seymour speak. We felt connected to the imagery straight away, and we were drawn into his stories.
His process is quite beautiful to us. He listens to the project and takes the next step according to what the project seems to want. Rather than simplify the thought process to something easily graspable and therefore unreal, he acknowledges that many of the questions that design seeks to answer are difficult questions, so the answers must also be complex and difficult.

Seymour uses wax, because the malleable and mouldable qualities of wax are appropriate for the malleable, changeable nature of contemporary desires. He described some events that he had staged in the past where the audience could shape and interact with the wax, and depending on their behaviour the wax would take on different forms.
We really empathise with this method; taking movement into account in making participatory exhibition, and using people in his installations, considering the human element that design should always have as a focus. We find resemblances in our approaches to our own design work. This practice led research is inherently responsive to the ephemeral nature of human desire.

Ask yourself: Why is design? What is it for? The answer we would like to propound is that design is to work for and be relevant to us, people. For Jerszy Seymour, people are the motive.

His approach was evident even in his presentation which was illustrated with comprehensible diagrams. The things he was saying were by no means simple, but the audience was with him because his intention was to explain clearly what he does. If there is substance, than there is no need for smoke and mirrors. Whether process is more important than destination is a fashionable point of contention in the world of design, but for me Jerszy Seymour has it right. He brings people in to be with his design, observes their relationship reading into their moods and behaviours right down to what food they leave behind, and builds on this in a concatenation of steps that has no final point but instead bears it’s fruit while it lives.

When you are working with difficult problems, sometimes your process must involve a degree of faith in your convictions. You may know there is a mystery in the fog, but you may not know the shape of it. But you have to go into the fog and take grasp of something just the same. Seymour follows his beliefs while always keeping sight of the references and relevances as to why he moves and in which direction. Whenever you feel disoriented, this is what we would always tell you; use the process of the project to lead you through.

From Seymour’s presentation it is evident that he always kept his design human. In the photos he showed us, the people at his installations were engaged and playing around and obviously didn’t feel intimidated. This doesn’t mean that the situations were not challenging, they were. People participate in spite of challenges if the presentation is accessible, if they feel like something is for them, and about them, and of value to them.

People are busy, our contemporary lives are full of áreiti. It matters what you show people. Respect other people’s time. Design and Art are often taught and practised side by side and share many qualities but Art can burrow into personal little tunnels. Perhaps this is where Design should distinguish itself. Good, conscientious design cannot stray too far from people and society where it must find relevance.

Ultimately, Design is about us. It makes some kind of inquiry into how people function in the world they have made, or how people and the man-made world function together. This is for me what design research is.

I would like to share with you a project that I participated in with Karna back in New Zealand. It has grown since then and I believe it will continue to blossom. It was shown at the Nordic Food Forum on Food Culture which was held at the Nordic House at the same time as DesignMarch.

“I’m happy I saw this talk, he made me believe in design again.”
– Karna Sigurðardóttir BDes(hons) in Industrial Design

Image © Glamour The Concept Boutique

by Sahra Smith



Glamour would like to thank these people:
Stuart Richardson and Selma Þórunn
Þórunn Gréta and Davíð Þór
Sari, Halla, Kristín and Greipur at Iceland Design Centre for a seamless collaboration.

We could not have done anything without you.