From swimming pools to gas stations to street signs, everything around is designed. While Reykjavik is home to the largest design community in Iceland, there are plenty of exciting designy things to see around the island. Here is our regularly updated list of tips and destinations, enjoy your travels!
On Board Icelandair
Soon, you’ll get the first taster for Icelandic design before your feet touch the ground. HAF by Hafsteinn Juliusson, one of the most promising up and coming Icelandic design agencies, won the design competition we held together with Icelandair to re-design food packaging on board the Icelandair planes. Juliusson explains the design in the video below.
Skrúður is a vegetable garden in Dýrafjörður, a fjord in the West Fjords of Iceland, just a few kilometers from the Arctic Circle. Started by Sigtryggur Guðlaugsson, a local school principal with a keen interest in herbs in 1909, Skrúður received the Carlo Scarpa Prize for gardens in 2013.
How to get there: Drive along road 60, turn right on gravel road 624.
The perfect base for exploring the West Fjords, hostel Ráðagerði overlooks the fishing village of Patreksfjörður. The eight rooms are furnished with Scintilla fabrics. Built in 1945, Ráðagerði translates to “Clever plan”, homage to the ingenious sourcing of construction materials by the houses’ wartime builders.
Guesthouse 1×6 is designed and run by local wood sculptor Daníel Sigmundsson. The name 1 x 6 is the measurement in inches of the timber used to create the unique interior. Sigmundsson also used recycled timber and tiles, stones from the sea and driftwood collected from the local seashores.
How to get there: From Reykjavik, take road 41 towards Keflavík, turn to the town. The guesthouse is located on Vesturbraut, see map here.
Hofsós swimming pool
Designed by Basalt Arkitektar and completed in 2010, Hofsós municipal swimming pool is located by the Skagafjörður fjord in Northern Iceland. In the Icelandic sagas, outlaw Grettir the Strong took refuge in The Drangey island. Not equipped with a boat, he had to swim to it across the icy cold fjord. When in the infinity pool, the swimmers will get to re-live Grettir’s swim – though safely in the lukewarm Icelandic geothermal water.
How to get there: From ring road, turn right to road 76 that will lead to the village of Hofsós. Follow signage.
Blue Lagoon Spa
In the midst of an untainted lava field in Svartsengi, the Blue Lagoon is the most popular destination in Iceland. While soaking in the milky waters of the lagoon, also pay attention to the beautiful architecture by Sigríður Sigþórsdóttir and her team. The spa and its environment combine harmoniously, with the harsh landscape softened by natural woods in soft and flowing forms. The Blue Lagoon works closely with Icelandic designers and for example hosted a fashion show in DesignMarch 2012 – see images here.
How to get there: Drive road 41 towards Keflavík, turn left to road 43, then to right following signage. The drive will take approximately 45 minutes. There are various options for organized tours, see eg. Reykjavik Excursions.
Leir 7 Ceramics Studio
Founded in 2007, Leir 7 is a ceramics studio in Stykkishólmur, Snaefelsnes peninsula. It is run by Sigríður Erla Guðmundsdóttir, who uses Icelandic clay from Ytri – Fagridalur for production of design and art objects. For opening hours, see their Facebook page here.
How to get there: From Reykjavík, drive ring road towards North, turn left to road 54, then right to road 56 to get to Stykkishólmur. Leir 7 is by the main road at Aðalstraeti 20.
Located in Egilsstadir, Eastern Iceland, Hús handanna is a design store stocking works by the active local design community. For more information on design from Eastern Iceland, take a look at Make By Þorpið here.
How to get there: The ring road runs right through Egilsstadir, and Hús handanna is located right by the main road in Midvangi 1-3.
Kaupmaðurinn (The Merchant) is a brand new design store that recently opened in Ísafjörður. It stocks clothing, jewelry, home decoration items and accessories by Icelandic design brands such as Vík Prjónsdóttir, Farmers Market, As we grow, Kría Jewlery and Aurum. More on the store here.
The store is located on the corner of Austurvegur and Hafnarstræti.
Stöðin is a service station in Borgarnes designed by the Icelandic-Danish architecture practise KRADS for Shell Iceland, The curved concrete façade of Stöðin hides behind itself a gas station, restaurant, drive-through and a shop.
How to get there: Drive for about an hour towards North from Reykjavik along the road number 1.
Part of the research project Designers and Farmers run by Iceland Academy of the Arts, Erpsstaðir is a farm that runs a farm shop during the summer. They are the producers of Skyr Konfekt, a white chocolate and skyr confectionary that was chosen as the best product 2012 in the Reykjavik Grapevine annual design awards 2012.
How to get there: Drive the ring road counter clock-wise from Reykjavik, turn left onto Route 60 about 35 km after Borgarnes. Within another 26km driving towards north, you should see the farm, in a valley next to Mida-river, below Saudafell-Hill.
Laugarvatn Fontana is a place where you come to relax and experience authentic Icelandic nature while relaxing in the warm geothermal pools and natural steam rooms. The baths vary in depth, size and temperature and the steam rooms that have been built over natural hot springs that has been used in this purpose since 1929. Fontana is situated by a beautiful lake Laugarvatn and you can enjoy the spectacular views from the sauna or the pools.
How to get there: Laugarvatn Fontana is 77 km away from Reykjavík. Drive on road number 37 on route to Geysir and Gullfoss. A new road number 354 connects Laugarvatn to the Þingvellir National Park.
The hand coloured digital illustrations, with a massive amount of images based on the team’s trips around the Iceland, followed by over 1000 illustrations, 3D modeling and flights above the island with the most experienced pilot in the Iceland.
We asked Borgarmynd-founder Snorri Thór Tryggvason for his must-see tips to Iceland:
Islands in the Breidafjördur fjord
ps. Do you know of a location that should be on this list? Don’t hesitate to contact us.