The Seal Pelt by Vík Prjónsdóttir is part of Everyday Discoveries, the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 International design house exhibition that opens tomorrow. If in Finland, join us!

Vík stands for the southernmost village in Iceland, Prjón for knitting – Vík Prjónsdóttir is  a collective of young designers working on Icelandic wool.

“Wool was one of the main reasons people were able to live in Iceland,” says Brynhildur Pálsdóttir, but in the age of the synthetic fleece, the once gigantic Icelandic wool industry was in decline. “Something had to be done.”

In 2005 Brynhildur, Egill Kalevi Karlsson, Gudfinna Mjöll Magnúsdóttir, Hrafnkell Birgisson and Thuridur Rós Sigurthórsdóttir packed their bags and travelled to the southernmost town in the country, Vík, home to Víkurprjón knitwear company. The designers studied the machinery and techniques in use and also found inspiration in the dramatic landscapes and local folktales.

The result was an energetic, fun and colourful line comprising moustache hats (above) and seal shaped blankets. “They are perfect for hanging out on the sofa” says Brynhildur. “And you can walk in it, so if someone knocks on the door, you can just tip toe and go, open!”

 

Four years after, Vik Prjónsdóttir is still in the spotlight. “Fashion has a short shelf life, but blankets stay around” explains Brynhildur.  Surely the combination of playful ideas and local motifs also help? The Eagle-inspired Shield of Wings blanket below is from the second collection.

Here is the folk story that inspired the Seal Pelt blanket – and the cuter than cute Baby Seal suit below.

One morning in the village of Vik an old fisherman went walking on the beach whilst all the other villagers lay still in dreams arms. He came across a cave. In front of the cave he saw a pile of seal skins and from inside he heard the most beautiful singing and the sound of merrymaking. Quickly he picked up one of the pelts, took it home and locked it away in a chest.

 

The next day the fisherman returned to the cave to find a naked girl crying, he gave her a blanket to warm her and took her home to rest. With no place to go, the girl stayed with the fisherman and as time passed, she grew fond of him. The couple got married, had seven children and the years passed well, but often she would sit by the window and stare sadly out to sea.

 

One Christmas the fisherman left for church and his wife found the key to chest he had hidden the pelt inside so long ago. The old man returned from church to find the chest wide open and both the pelt and his wife gone.

 

“I’ve got seven children in the sea, seven on dry land” she had been heard to sing on her way.

 

The wife never returned, but from that day on the fisherman never failed to bring in a healthy catch and whenever the children would play on the beach, a sad-eyed seal would watch over and sometimes bring them sea shells in its mouth.

Story adapted from Jón Arnason’s Icelandic Legends (1874)


 

Images Courtesy of Vík Prjónsdóttir