Wool is a sustainable, natural raw material with infinite possibilities. This exhibition showcases products made from Icelandic wool by contemporary designers and craftspeople. The participants come from different fields of design and craft, but what unites them is the ingenuity with which they use this local material.
People tend to disagree on the qualities of Icelandic wool. Some see it as difficult to work with, while others sing its praises. Either way, it is important to be able to work with a locally sourced material.
Working with wool has traditionally been integral to the industrial and craft history of Iceland. Iceland has half a million sheep and around 750 tons of wool are used for production every year.
Products made from wool were historically one of Iceland’s main exports, and tweed, which was woven from wool and measured in cubits, was an important currency in the Middle Ages. To this day, the Icelandic term “að komast í álnir”, literally “to come into possession of cubits“, means to become wealthy.
Wool was processed at home, alongside conventional farm work, until the end of the 19th century, when the process was taken over by machinery in wool mills. The 20th century saw an increase in the production of clothes and woollen products in Iceland. With changes in international trade, production moved to other parts of the world where costs were lower. Today, Ístex (Icelandic Textiles) scours, processes and spins roughly 99% of all Icelandic wool, although smaller, more specialised producers, such as Uppspuni and Þingborg, have sprung up in recent years.
Participants in the exhibition are:
KULA by Bryndís – sound absorber products
RÓ – matresses
Magnea Einarsdóttir – fashion design
Kormákur og Skjöldur – clothing store
Ásthildur Magnúsdóttir – weaver
Ístex – wool processing company
Curators: Birgir Örn Jónsson og Signý Þórhallsdóttir
Illustrator: Rán Flygenring
Photos: Axel Sigurðarson