Spiritualism, Craft and Waste is a series of projects realized by graduating students from the Product Design Department of Iceland Academy of the Art.

The collection originates from a study of the contemporary role of the designer. It is a redefinition and revitalization of modern values: instead of focusing solely on the making of commercial merchandise, designers should start to question the impact of their work on other living systems. It is vital to be aware of the transformation of matter from the origin to the end. Emphasis is put on the question why rather then how? This base is then reflected again and again in different points of contact with the various processes of design.

Biodegradable Fibre Unit by Björk Gunnbjörnsdóttir is an entirely new natural material made by mixing wood chips with bio-plastic.

According to the designer,

When Iceland was first settled in the middle ages, the island was wooded “from the mountains to the sea” but the impact of human habitation almost eliminated the woods within about 250 years. Systematic afforestation did not begin in Iceland until the early 1900s, and it has increased steadily ever since. It is predicted that within a few decades Iceland will become self-sufficient in timber production – as in recent years more trees have been planted per capita in Iceland than in most other countries.


A problem that arises from timber production is that coppicing of woods produces quantities of wood and branches for which there is little use, other than chipping. This is especially true of Icelandic woods, where little of the wood can be utilised for boards or other useful timber.

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By mixing wood chips with bioplastic made from natural substances, Gunnbjörnsdóttir has created an entirely new material which is light and strong, yet organic, so it will degrade rapidly in nature.


Not only is the added material environmentally friendly: the woodchips themselves are chipped using green energy from domestic sources. Woodchips are produced by Fengur Ltd. by a process using geothermal steam – hitherto the products have mainly been used as bedding for livestock. The new method enhances the value and potential applications for woodchips, as it produces a solid material that can be used for many purposes.


This is our second edition of our yearly round-up of final projects by brand new designers graduating from the Iceland Academy of the Arts.

See all our posts on the student works  here.


Course leaders: Garðar Eyjólfsson and Thomas Pausz
Images by Björk Gunnbjörnsdóttir