14 questions with.....Ingibjörg Hanna Bjarnadóttir


You will probably recognise her name, Ingibjörg Hanna Bjarnadóttir.  She is the creative talent behind the Raven coat hanger - one of the most recognisable design items to emerge from the Icelandic design world.  She lives and works in Iceland and was very happy to spend some time answering my questions which she answered honestly from deep within.  I enjoyed learning about Ingibjörgs talents, inspirations and favourite things....I'm sure you will too, so here goes...

Samantha: What is your education/background?
Ingibjörg: I studied graphic design in Iceland Academy of the Arts and worked as a graphic designer for a few years. Although it was in general a fun and creative job I felt the need to have a bigger control over the design process and the end result. About 5 years ago I started to design products out of pure passion for it. Graphic design was still my main job and product design was just on the side. Today it is the opposite. The transition happened almost with out me noticing it, all of the sudden I was almost only designing products.

Samantha: Tell me some things that you like?
Ingibjörg: I like the rain, sun, snow, the smell of the ocean, cappuccino, dried fish, chocolate, love, friendship....

Samantha: ...and some things that you dislike?
Ingibjörg: I dislike litter, pollution, evil, arguing, road rage, war, the taste of seaweed, hate and prejudice...

Samantha: Where do you seek inspiration?
Ingibjörg: I get inspired by the little everyday things that happen or appear. I use the previous experience, from today or my childhood and find a way to make it into a useful design object.

Samantha: What is the story behind the beautiful Krummi Bird Hanger?
Ingibjörg: Krummi is the pet name for ‘raven’ in Icelandic. I think the raven is a such a cool bird. I chose it for my design because it is such a flashy bird. Icelandic ravens like everything glitzy and use such items to decorate their nests. It can also be used as a hanging sculpture and I’ve seen it in people’s windows, for instance. I myself use it for my most beautiful dresses that I fly with to my own nest.
Ravens are very connected to Icelandic folklore. It for instance discovered Iceland for the Viking Hrafna-Flóki, who set two of them free to find land. The Norse god and sage Ódinn had two of the birds, called Huginn and Muninn, on his shoulders, whispering words of wisdom into his ears. Icelandic parents teach their children “krummavísur”, easily learned verses about krummi.

Samantha: What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Ingibjörg: A toast and a cappuccino... my favourite

Samantha: What did you last buy for your home?
Ingibjörg: I bought a stack candle holder, by Helgo.

Samantha: What advice do you have for young aspiring designers?
Ingibjörg: What has worked well for me is to be true to myself. Try to create something original instead of following someone else's path.

Another one of Ingibjörgs designs - Ljóssþor - translated means 'light-stitch' - a multi-use plywood
table or a stool with a light inside, which shines through holes in
the wood that depict traditional Icelandic textile patterns.  You can
take the lid off and use it as a chest. It’s strong enough to hold a
person and can be used as a stool when your guests become too many at
a party.

Samantha: What are you working on at the moment?
Ingibjörg: I am working on numerous new products at the moment. Some are already prototypes, some are sketches and others are still forming in my head. What they all have in common is that they are super practical and beautiful home accessories.

Samantha: Where do you go to relax?
Ingibjörg: I don't have one specific place where I relax regularly except for my bed. I love relaxing in a outdoor hot tub in the winter, when it is dark and it´s snowing. It is such a great feeling to be all warm and then these cold snowflakes fall on your face where they melt... there is  nothing like it.

Samantha: Some of your favourite designers?
Ingibjörg: Hella Jongerius, Ingo Maurer and Todd Bracher

Samantha: Tell me about your workspace? 
Ingibjörg: I share a studio with 3 other designers. We each have our own space but we do overlap each other at times with our sketches and prototypes. Instead of finding it irritating we find it joyful and inspiring.

Samantha: The piece you love most from your collection is…
Ingibjörg: It is hard to say... at the moment I am so excited about the products that are about to come... but I would have to say Krummi Bird Hanger because we have enjoyed so many adventures together. Ingibjörg: We have flown together all over the world to exhibit and so on.

Samantha: …and finally Ingibjörg, if you weren’t a designer, what would you be? 
Ingibjörg: I would be a surgeon, that was always the plan right until the swift change of mind where I applied for the art academy. 

Thanks so much for letting me into your world Ingibjörg!


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