Despite challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Iceland’s 12th annual design festival, DesignMarch, successfully took place in Reykjavik from June 24th to June 28th! When the pandemic reached Iceland, Icelandic health authorities acted quickly, mandating social distancing measures and travel restrictions. The nation successfully controlled the crisis through these measures, which allowed for the eventual ease of restrictions and in-person gatherings including DesignMarch.
After the festival was postponed from its usual March date, festival director Thorey Einarsdottir and her team adapted the festival to a new format that brought positivity during difficult times.
In addition to a more locally-focused festival, the new format involved increased digital content and documentation of the event online. The team also introduced STUDIO 2020, an online platform featuring interviews about the Icelandic design scene and local conversations about design innovation. Given the circumstances, the team saw this as the perfect time to experiment with innovative methods of design communication.
This year’s festival followed the theme “New World – New Ways,” emphasizing sustainability and new methods of artist expression. The city was transformed into a major design venue, featuring over 100 shows and over 80 exhibitors. Events were spread throughout the greater Reykjavik capital area and many locals attended the festival.
Throughout the festival, common threads included environmental consciousness and innovation, with artists incorporating repurposed materials into their displays and experimenting with new methods of accomplishing tasks.
Take a look at some highlights from the festival:
Limited COVID-19 Edition
Artist Björn Steinar Blumstein created a hand sanitizer specifically for the DesignMarch festival. Blumenstein created the sanitizer from 250kg of leftover fruit from local food importers, emphasizing the importance of reusing any and all materials.
The Fan Chair
The Fan Chair exhibit featured stadium seats from the KR Reykjavik football stadium. Tobia Zambotti’s goal was to present an environmentally friendly concept that brought vibrant colors and the excitement of sporting events inside the home.
ASMR U Ready?
Valdis Steinarsdottir incorporated Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) into his material experiments to stimulate viewers’ senses during a time when touch is restricted. Instead of physically interacting with the various materials, visuals were projected onto a screen and ASMR was used to give visitors a sense of the materials without touching them all.
The festival’s larger events, including the opening and closing ceremonies, DesignTalks, and Design Diplomacy have been postponed until 2021. Einarsdottir and the team are excited to bring back both their larger events and their international guests at DesignMarch 2021.
Check out the DesignMarch 2020 program and be sure to follow @DesignMarch on Instagram for more insights and updates!