"Hrafnkell’s Hab cupboard is a play on a type of bourgeois, eighteenth-century cupboard (and its countless reproductions) often seen in traditional middle-class homes. But in contrast to a massive piece of furniture, Hab is a sheet of trompe l’loel poured polyurethane with straps for holding objects. It is designed to be hung on the wall or rolled up if one is moving: nomadic furniture, if you will."
R.Craig Miller, Penny Sparke, Catherine McDermott: “European Design since 1985-shaping the new century”, Merrell 2009
tools you light
Tools You Light is a table lamp designed and manufactured in collaboration with two craftsmen in Berlin and Brandenburg, Germany who specialize individually in wood and metal, respectively.
The idea was to epitomize two traditional crafts techniques - wood turning and metal spinning - in one object. A lampshade is created by spinning an aluminum sheet over a tool in the positive form which is turned in beech wood. In the spinning process the grain texture of the wood is transferred onto the soft metal.
The Tools You Light table lamps combine traditional crafts with new technology and design, complementing the Tools You Bake project which also highlights the story behind the process. Both projects celebrate and support local craftsmanship in the Berlin-Brandenburg area.
Made of nylon-coated aluminum and beech wood. The comes with an integrated 12V transformer and 5W warm white LED angel eye head light.
Ancient craft meets modern technology.
Designed by Hrafnkell Birgisson
tools you bake
These aluminum baking mold series are produced with the ancient technique called metal spinning. It takes place during rotation in a lathe where sheet metal is shaped around solid wooden or metallic molds to create hollow bodies.
Innumerable wooden molds have accumulated over four generations in the stockrooms of the 100-year-old Hugo Brauer factory in Berlin. Their original intended function as molds for making hubcaps, lids or shades has long since been forgotten.
Sebastian and Hrafnkell were inspired by the hundreds of dusty, wooden molds stacked on shelves in the workshop, and they began thinking about how to tell the story of this ancient process. All of a sudden they pictured the molds as cakes. The contours of cakes baked in these pans depict a piece of design history from the beginning of industrialization until the present day, with users recreating a shape from an old mold.
The names of the different shapes are lent from some of Hugo Brauer clients: Collatz, Wiesner, Eltoga, Sturickow, Stubbak, Nieke, Hüttinger and finally Bessy - a company which manufactures electron storage rings for synchrotron radiation! Bessy is the smallest tin with only 15 cm in diameter whereas Hüttinger is by far the biggest tin with 35 cm in diameter.
The Tools You Bake are a contemporary reference to the craft and history of the Hugo Brauer Metallwaren company, a pure service provider and supplier in its day.
Designed by Sebastian Summa and Hrafnkell Birgisson
Straw craft people: Eje Aren, Christina Axelsson, Eva Bryntesson, Mai Flognman, Ann-Christine Gustafsson, Anita Harnell, Anna-Lena Ingemansson, Christina Johansson, Lisa Järnberg, Doris Karlsson, Christina Lundin
The project Farmer’s Gold explores the relationship between craft and design and unites local tradition and culture with contemporary practice. Challenging traditional distinctions between design and craft, Farmer’s Gold is an investigation into the preservation of a marginalized cultural heritage.
Straw has existed as a raw material as long as people have cultivated soil. Straw craft is universal and has strong roots in farmer cultures. In earlier times, straw was readily used as a material for a variety of functional items for the household, such as carpets, baskets, hats, blinds, and roofs. Besides its domestic use, straw often symbolized folkloric agricultural myths and customs, such as fertility and harvesting, and was also used for ceremonial ornaments.
The center for straw craft in Sweden is, and has always been, Dalsland. Straw has deep roots in the local peasant culture and straw was even known as “farmer’s gold.” Straw work was commonly performed by women in Dalsland the production of items made of straw was at its height at the end of the 1800s. The straw hat popularly known as the “Ärtemark hat” became an international success and was exported to many European countries and sold by the hundred thousands. At the beginning of the 20th century Ärtemark hats declined in popularity, and the business vanished. At about the same time, straw craft stopped being used for functional items. From then on, straw craft was sought almost solely to make Christmas ornaments and seasonal decorations.
Today, straw craft is one of the most threatened crafts in the Nordic countries. Due to high production costs, straw work is usually outsourced to countries where manual labor is cheaper. As a result, the skills and knowledge in straw craft are rapidly disappearing from the region but straw has many advantages. It grows locally and is widely available. It is a cheap raw material and there are multiple ways to use it. Moreover, it is environmentally friendly. It is thus worth exploring what straw and straw craft could mean today.
Farmer’s Gold was organized in the form of a workshop in which Swedish and international designers and artists worked together with local straw craftspeople. By exchanging ideas and techniques, they experimented with straw and developed new products that challenge the effects of the global market economy.
The workshop took place in Dals Långed (Dalsland) in June 2011.
Reclaimed porcelain cups from European flea markets are elevated to a new level of functionality…
"We've all had that dreadful realization when 10 or so of our closest friends are over for an evening of fine wine and good conversation. They trickle in, one by one, two by two. We take their coats into the bedroom, show them to the living room, offer them a drink. Red, white? Sure, no problem.
Then Andrea finally arrives, as tardy as ever - and very thirsty. So it's off to the kitchen to retrieve some pinot. We reach into the cupboard for a glass and ... nothing. Out of proper glasses.
Poor Andrea has to settle for her drink in the mug that says, "Working hard? Or hardly working?"
So the classy wine-in-mug routine doesn't work, but keeping a huge store of stemware doesn't work either. It's not practical to have dozens of glasses sitting unused for the 353 days of the year we're not entertaining.
Icelandic designer Hrafnkell Birgisson wouldn't have this problem - he'd just have cupboards full of his High Cups.
Birgisson takes old teacups - he finds beautiful vintage ones, most often with floral prints - and affixes a wine stem to the bottoms. Voila: teacup stemware.
"It's a sophisticated way to sip tea," says Dimitra Doufekas of Up To You Toronto, a boutique that sells the cups in Canada. "But if you want to brighten up your next cocktail party, you could use them for wines or drinks."
Imagine that: By day, a cup for tea that'll wow Grandma when she drops by. By night, a one-of-a-kind glass for beverages that'll charm even Andrea. And a bonus: Say goodbye to those dusty wineglasses that have taken over every nook and cranny of the kitchen."
…and reclaimed porcelain saucers and plates are elevated in the same way and joined with handblown glass cones. The Flying Saucers are made in three different heights - small 18cm, medium 25cm & large 40cm (with soup & dinner plates).
mastodon - remix
The remix of Sebastian Summa´s Mastodon stool was created together with designer Jo Hany. This version is made of turned oak and three identically canted aluminum sheets - joined together with rivets.
A uniform and anonymous kitchen utensil, the cutting board, receives a CNC engraving in the style of an ancient still life painting, a piece of art history. The plain side remains for cutting, while the food can be decoratively served on the engraved one.
Made out of maple by a carpender in the Black Forest of Germany
Designed by Hrafnkell Birgisson
Solskin is a solar lamp designed for milking the light from the sun.
During the daytime it is placed in the window and in the afternoon it has been filled with sunlight. Then it can be carried into the dwellings and used as an ecologically friendly light source. After a day in the window Solskin can give light for up to eight hours. You turn on the light by lifting up the handle.
Designed by Hrafnkell Birgisson, Sesselja Guðmundsdóttir and Aðalsteinn Stefánsson. Under development.
In late 2004 Hrafnkell curated a collaboration between the Icelandic knitwear producer Víkurprjón and a team of fashion and product designers. Few months later the brand Vík Prjónsdóttir was born and a unique collection made of pure Icelandic wool. In the first years the collaboration involved designers Brynhildur Pálsdóttir, Egill Kalevi Karlsson, Guðfinna Mjöll Magnúsdóttir, Hrafnkell Birgisson and Þuríður Rós Sigurþórsdóttir.
Today, Vík Prjónsdottir is owned by Brynhildur, Guðfinna and Þuríður who have taken the project to different heights.
Their mutual interest in integrating the form and magic of everyday items into their designs is evident in Vík Prjónsdóttir’s products. They see their design mission in making use of the natural materials and conditions found in Iceland. Working together with Vík Prjónsdóttir, their aim is to show an unconventional image of the Icelandic wool industry by developing new products with traditional Icelandic materials.
Þuríður Rós Sigurþórsdóttir, Guðfinna Mjöll Magnúsdóttir, Egill Kalevi Karlsson, Brynhildur Pálsdóttir and Hrafnkell Birgisson
VÍK PRJÓNSDÓTTIR - Reykjavík Design Days 2005
Cut-fish is a food processing board for preparing and serving high quality food. The board is made of white HD-PE, a durable and recyclable thermoplastic commonly used in the fish processing industry. The boards replicate the outlines of selected North Atlantic fish species. Cutting or chopping is best done on the smooth side, while the carved side is designed for serving.
Designed by Fanney Long and Hrafnkell Birgisson
knit & lit
The Knit & Lit is a lamp created in a limited edition together with The Handknitting Association of Iceland.
Designed by Hrafnkell Birgisson & Matthias Möver
photography: Martin Seck
photography: Martin Seck
photography: Martin Seck
silk screen on drift wood
The wooden, silkscreen printed ships are made out of driftwood logs that wash ashore along the coastline of northwestern Iceland and are too small to be reclaimed normally. The silkscreen printed images depict life at sea and in the North Atlantic fishing industry.
Along with sheep’s wool, driftwood has played a vital role in the otherwise woodless country of Iceland ever since it was settled. This wood has traditionally been used to build homes, boats, furniture, boat winches, food bowls, barrels and boxes, as well as for making charcoal. The northern coastline used to be “white” in many places with driftwood originally carried down the rivers of Siberia to the sea, where the northeastern currents carry it to the pack ice. From there, the currents carry the wood around the North Pole where some of it drifts off northeast of Iceland and is finally washed ashore along the path of the East Greenland Stream.
There are still a few farms collecting this driftwood today. But the process of cleaning and drying the wood is very time-consuming and costly, so it generally only makes financial sense to use the larger trunks. The main tree species transported to the country this way are fir, larch and some spruce and poplar.
The project was developed with the support of the Danish National Workshops for Arts and Crafts in 2011.
Christmas in Iceland would not be complete without the 13 unruly brothers called the Yuletide Lads. For 13 nights before Christmas, every child in Iceland puts a shoe on the window sill at bedtime, hoping that the Yuletide Lad who passes by that evening will put a little something in the shoe. If the child has been good the Lad might leave behind a small present – but the naughty ones get a raw potato! Meathooker comes to town two days before Christmas. He finds a residence, climbs onto the roof and dangles his hook down the chimney, hoping that its sharp point will fasten into a leg of lamb as it simmers in the pot or hangs in the smoke above the glowing embers.
Meathooker is envisaged here by designer Hrafnkell Birgisson and writer Gerður Kristný. This work is a beautiful fusion of Icelandic culture, design and writing, created for a worthy cause. All proceeds pass to The Benefit Society for Children with Disabilities.