Interested in design and architecture, headed to Reykjavik?
This is our guide to the design-wise hotels, restaurants, galleries and anything else we love about Reykjavik. If you plan to do some serious shopping, take a look at a more extensive listing of design stores over at our main website here. We hope you will find all this useful and inspiring and wish you a fantastic stay!
Opened in May 2011, the Reykjavik Concert hall and conference centre Harpa is a Reykjavik landmark and a must-see. It is the home of the Icelandic symphony orchestra and Icelandic Opera, as well as a wide array of other concerts and cultural events. The building was designed by the Danish Henning Larsen Architects in collaboration with Icelandic Batteriid architects. The façade is by the Icelandic-Danish artist Ólafur Eliasson and the acoustics by Artec Consultants Inc (read more here).
Harpa has gathered numerous awards for its design and architecture, including the Mies van der Rohe 2013 award, Best Nordic Public Space 2011 award and FÍT and IIID awards for graphic design.
The Museum of Design and Applied Art may be located a stone throw away from the city centre of Reykjavik, in the neighboring borough of Garðabær (bus number 1, stop called Ásgardur), but for anybody interested in design, it is a must. With superb changing exhibitions on Icelandic design, ranging from graphic design to product design to design history, it gives a fantastic insight to Icelandic design.
Museum of Design and Applied Art, Gardatorg 1, Gardabaer
SPARK design space
The number one venue for Icelandic design, SPARK Design Space is Iceland’s only design gallery.
With both international and local designers in the exhibition calendar (both Vík Prjónsdóttir and Salakauppa from Finnish Johan Olin and Korean Aamu Song have exhibited before), it hosts a wide array of design projects, with a specific focus on food design. The gallery also serves as a design shop and a venue for design related events.
SPARK design space, Klapparstigur 33
Founded in 1973, the Reykjavík Art Museum operates in what used to be a harbour warehouse. During its renovation managed by Studio Granda, special care was taken to preserve as much as possible of the building’s original architecture. The outcome is a beautiful, minimal space that gives a striking backdrop to the concerts.
Reykjavik Art Museum, Tryggvagata 17
Opened in 1973, The Reykjavik Art Museum Kjarvalsstaðir is named after one of the most beloved painters of the nation, Jóhannes S. Kjarval (1885–1972). His works form a large part of the collection of Reykjavik Art Museum and can be found there at all times. Kjarval was a living legend, a romantic bohem who captured the beauty and mystique of the land which he so intimately knew. The unique building of Kjarvalsstaðir is designed by architect Hannes Kr. Daviðsson, surrounded by garden of Klambratún and is located a short distance from downtown Reykjavík. The building is the first of its kind in Iceland to be specifically designed for visual art exhibitions. In addition to exhibitions of Kjarval’s works, temporary exhibitions of Icelandic and international art are featured as well as architecture and design with emphasis on works of the twentieth centure.
The National Theatre of Iceland was designed by Iceland’s first state architect Gudjón Samúelsson. Opened in 1950, it’s architecture is inspired by the natural geology of Iceland, especially the basalt columns such as those at Svartifoss.
National Theatre of Iceland, Hverfisgata 19
UniKat is a co-op/collective design boutique and an exciting new edition to the heart of Reykjavík. Founded in 2014, UniKat stocks various Scandinavian and local brands, including Dýrindi, Hjarn, SONJA BENT, hringeftirhring, Postulína, Nína Hloðversdóttir and Hlín Reykdal.
Located in one of the oldest buildings in town, Kraum is a design store representing over 200 icelandic designers from different fields, from clothes and small gift items to jewelry and applied art. A must stop for a design fan! Kraum, Adalstraeti 10.
A collaboration between the designers of Icelandic fashion labels REY and skaparinn, p3 is both a studio and a store located a stone’s throw away from the main street. Apart from the house labels, p3 also carries perfumes by Andrea Maack and Ecsentric Molecules as well as the Austrian fashion label superated. P3 is located in Miðstræti 12, 101 Reykjavík.
For the past 35 years, Epal has been Iceland’s leading design shop, offering a wide selection of the best of Scandinavian design. From small gift items to large furniture, Epal stocks most of Iceland’s most prominent designers. As for the international brands, you will find Normann Copenhagen, Muuto, Marimekko, Alessi, Arne Jacobsen and HAY, among others on the Epal shelves. Epal, Harpa and Skeifan 6.
Finnish design store Suomi PRKL! Design stocks all the Finnish design gems. From Iittala to Finnish city bike Jopos to toys, Moomin products and retro baby clothes, Suomi PRKL! Design stands for simple beauty, clever solutions, joyful everyday life and green ideas with a touch of Finnish engineering – the Finnish way of life. Suomi PRKL!, Laugavegur 27
Geysir is a lifestyle store that carries a combination of icelandic and foreign brands from Vík Prjónsdóttir and Farmers Market to Hunter and Fjallräven. They also produce their own line of products that consists of knitted socks, gloves and sweaters, pretty notebooks and scented candles. Geysir, Skólavördurstígur 16
Kron and KronKron
Welcome to the Kron Dynasty! Kron is a stylish shoe store, while Kronkron focuses on young and upcoming designers as well as on other leading designers in the fashion world. Don’t miss their own label KRONbyKRONKRON, launched in 2008, the colorful, original, timeless and feminine label features a super successful shoe collection has been followed by a line of clothing and accessories.
Kron, Laugavegur 48 and KronKron, Laugavegur 63
Kiosk Boutique was founded in the summer of 2010 by newly-graduated fashion design students from Icelandic Academy of the Arts. In Kiosk you can get fashion and accessorize from a variety of young Icelandic designers; Eygló, Hlín Reykdal, Klukka by María Björg, Skaparinn, Thelma Design, Arna Sigrún, ASI of Iceland, Sævar Markús, REY, Shadow Creatures, Thelma-Design, YR, and GoWithJan. Check out Kioski’s Facebook page for latest designs and events. Kiosk, Laugavegur 65
Aurum is the flag ship store for designer Guðbjörg Kristín Ingvarsdóttir’s nature inspired jewellery label carrying the same name. Consider yourself warned – it will be difficult to leave here emptyhanded! The store also stocks Kria Jewelry and recently opened a new extension with a wide selection of lifestyle items, decorative objects, colourful toys and perfumes. Aurum, Bankastraeti 4
Opened in April, right after a successful show at Reykjavik Fashion Festival, the JÖR Store is the newest fashion store on the mainstreet Laugavegur. In addition to menswear by the young designer talent Gudmundssun Jörundsson, it also stocks items by shoe maker Stacy Adams, ties and accessories by Yves Saint Laurent, and in fall, also womens wear by JÖR by GUÐMUNDUR JÖRUNDSSON. The stylish store is designed by Axel Hallkell Jóhannesson a.k.a Langi Seli. As Jörundsson explains,
We wanted to make a space which is fresh and unlike anything else in Reykjavík, but also very clean and not part of any period or style – just a mixture.
Farmers Market was founded in 2005 by designer Bergthora Gudnadottir and musician Joel Palsson. They have taken traditional Icelandic design and successfully dashed it with modernity in fabrics and style. Their new take on the traditional Icelandic wool sweater is renowned. Farmers Market, Hólmaslóð 2
What was once the old General Store was taken over by group of Icelandic women and turned into a design store back in 1993. The shelves formerly filled with daily goods are now full of art, craft and design. Kirsuberjatréð, Vesturgata 4
Located at an old fishing net factory at the Reykjavik harbor, next door to the design store and studio Netagerin, Forréttabarinn serves only starters that can be combined into lunches and dinners.
Forréttabarinn, Nylendugata 14
Loft is a new hostel right in the heart of Reykjavik. With plenty of character and clever design features (think tailor made bunk beds and clever lighting and power sockets) for comfort and intimacy, the hostel also features plenty of cosy common areas that the locals frequent, too. Loft is locally infamous for it’s large rooftop terrace – perfect to soak in the (rare) rays of sun and the amazing view.
Loft hostel, Bankastræti 7
Founded in 1958, Mokka was the first cafe with an Italian espresso machine. It is still run by the same family, and the lovely retro interior has changed little if at all. Order waffles here! Kaffi Mokka, Skólavördurstígur 3A
This charming café is located close to Hallgrímskirkjan on Kárastígur 1. It started in 2008 when Ingibjörg Jóna Sigurðardóttir and Sonja Grant joined forces with coffee entrepreneurs Torfi Þór Torfason, Tumi Ferrer and Þuríður Sverrisdóttir. Reykjavik Roasters will present you with a uncompromising high quality of eco-friendly and innovative specialty coffee, that is roasted on location directly from the farmers. The cosy atmosphere will be a perfect place to enjoy a good read along with this award-winning cup of coffee. Open every day from 08.00 – 18.00, this is a place that should not be missed.
Right around the corner from our office and open from 7 ’til 7, Bergsson is likely to become our new regular hangout. The restaurant serves coffee, cakes and foods for both raw foodists and carnivores, all made from great ingredients, as healthy and delicious as possible. As for the interiors, it’s all about great ideas, reusing furniture and earthly colors.
Bergsson, Templararsund 3
MAR is the latest addition to the blooming harbor area. With an South-American and South-European inspired menu and interiors designed by HAF by Hafsteinn Juliusson, this is a great place for an upscale lunch or fine dinner. Pay attention to the interiors that are inspired by the sea, ceramics by Gudny Hafsteinsdóttir and a relief by graphic designer Siggi Odds that is his take of the harbor area.
In the daytime, Kaffibarinn offers coffee and casual coziness, during the nighttime it turns into a different plac – very crowded, very loud and pleasantly excessive when the DJs turn up their beats, it’s best to just give in and party away. Kaffibarinn, Bergstadastraeti
Tucked away amidst the 101 courtyards, Grettisborg Apartments are run by product designers Roshildur Jonsdóttir and Snaebjörn Thór Stefánsson of studio Hugdetta. Homey, design savvy, comfortable and cool – all without breaking the bank – the flats also serve as hands-on gallery space for local design and art. Whether a sculpture or a kitchen cupboard, if you like it, you can buy it and take it home with you. Grettisborg, Grettisgata 53b
Located in the old Frón biscuit factory by the Reykjavik seafront, KEX (Icelandic for biscuit) hostel’s décor is an eclectic collection from all over: an old US court office desk for the reception, 1930’s East German school tables to study your guidebooks by and old maps covering the walls. Apart from the dorms and rooms, KEX also houses a gym, barber, restaurant/bar (which has quickly become one a favourite hangout for city locals and travellers alike) and a library room, complete with full shelves of books and Icelandic films for the rainy days. And in the true spirit of the building’s history, they even bake fresh biscuits to dunk in your coffee! Kex, Skúlagata 28
Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina
Located in the heart of the Reykjavik city harbour, right next door to the dry lock, Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina’s interior decoration is a mix of modern Icelandic design and local antiques and vintage to create a colourful yet cosy, trendy feel that captures the local character. Plus, Marina’s lobby bar Slippbarinn is Iceland’s largest cocktail bar – stop by for a drink here! Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina, Myrargata 2
Located in the newly renovated 1960s pearl of a hotel, Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura, Sóley Natura Spa uses the wonderful Sóley Organics series made from handpicked wild icelandic herbs and offers weekly floating meditations in Flothettas, hat-helmets that makes relaxing in the water a total bliss. Need we say more? Nauthóltsvegur 52
Iceland Design Centre Mural by Siggi Eggertsson
This is something we are so happy and proud of – Siggi Eggertsson designed his first full-wall mural for our very own office here at the Iceland Design Centre. So come on over, see it and visit us! Mural by Siggi Eggertsson, Vonarstraeti 4b
The Mountain Series by Theresa Himmer
Spot a waterfall plunging down Bankastraeti, lava flowing on Hverfisgata and an icecap on Klapparstigur! The Mountain series by Theresa Himmer is made from mirrored sequins of a type commonly used for billboards or musical theatre façade. Loosely pinned onto their modular frames, the glimmering sights shift in the wind, throwing light in all directions to create surfaces iridescent with a life of their own. Mounted between 2006 and 2008, the graffiti and paint layers around the artworks come and go, but Himmer’s beautiful creations keep on shimmering. The Mountain Series by Theresa Himmer on Bánkastraeti, Hverfisgata and Klapparstigur.
The Lighthouse Village
The Lighthouse Village is an alliance of the fashion boutiques GK, KronKron, Herrafataverzlun Kormáks og Skjaldar and Kiosk along with Kex Hostel, framed with colorful beacons designed by the Icelandic graphic designer Siggi Odds.
The Harbour Path
The perfect afternoon walk route, Harbour Path by architect Massimo Santanicchia, assisted by Ragnar Már Nikulásson and Mattia Gambardella, connects the Reykjavik City harbour from the Harpa door steps all the way to the fishpacking district. The project also features a row of flags, based on Santanicchia’s home town Perugia’s flag tradition and a painted path as well as two hexagon-shaped squares, painted with sea-inspired patterns.
At Kría Cycles (Kría is Icelandic for arctic tern), the ex-pat Englishman, architect turned workshop owner David Robertson custom builds bikes, organizes bike tours and knows everything there is to know about biking in Iceland. If the pedal is your thing, this is the place to go. Kría Cycles, Hólmaslód 4
Torg í Biðstöðu (“Meanwhile projects”) is a program run by City of Reykjavik. Through the program, the city assigned areas that have been sidelined in the planning process to artists and designers to create temporary works, test and play with the current and future of the cityscape.
Some dozen “meanwhile projects” were visible across town from the city centre to the more distant neighborhoods surrounding it.
You can find Reykjavik Design Guide on Google Maps, too.
Ps. We’ve also asked some of the foremost Icelandic designers for their favorite things to do and see in Reykjavik, read the posts below: