Interview: Dögg Guðmundsdóttir industrial designer

Nordic design has established itself as a genre of good design whether it´s applied to fashion, architecture, furniture or products becoming a recognizable commodity.  Emerging in the 1950´s, Nordic design can be characterized by its simplicity, minimalism and functionality with designers such as Arne Jacobsen, Verner Panton and Alvar Aalto paving the way for future generations of Nordic designers.  One of the emerging talent in this field is the industrial designer Dögg Guðmundsdóttir, born and raised in Iceland but working out of Copenhagen for the past 15 years.

From the exhibition Kosmos at the Museum of Design and Applied Arts in Iceland Photo:  Museum of Design and Applied Arts

From the exhibition Kosmos at the Museum of Design and Applied Arts in Iceland
Photo: Museum of Design and Applied Arts

She was one of the designers participating in DesignMarch in Iceland with her exhibition Kosmos at the Museum of Design and Applied Arts,  a retrospective of her  products and furniture from 1999 to the present. Recently, she has been working on creating a piece in the spirit of the Danish iconic designer, Hans J. Wegner, whose hundredth anniversary is being celebrated on multiple fronts.  It is exhibited at the Sønderjyllands Kunstmuseum who invited a designer from each of the Nordic countries to participate in honouring the designer’s legacy and Dögg was the chosen one from Iceland. She has been cooperating with international manufacturers such as Ligne Roset, Christofle in France and NORR 11  in Denmark and is a good representative of the thriving design scene in the Nordic countries.   Her design is diverse and the use of materials is experimental and innovative, often with strong ties to her cultural roots in Iceland. I caught up with Dögg and asked her to give us some insight into her design processes and ideas.

How come you chose to be a designer?

It was a childhood dream of mine to do something creative, to improve things or find solutions to existing problems.

What are you inspired by in your design?

I am mostly inspired by my surroundings and needs every time. Sometimes an idea emerges when I can’t find the items I am looking for or can’t afford to buy them.  Then, I literally take things into my own hands, design them and make them by hand for my own use to begin with.  One of my most recent items is the lamp Balloon, that I designed for an exhibition to celebrate the hundreth anniversary of the Danish designer Hans J. Wegner.  One of his many iconic pieces is the Wishbone chair that was at the dining-room table in my childhood home so I have many fond memories sitting in it celebrating my birthdays with my family and friends.  That´s how the idea came about to celebrate Wegners anniversary with a balloon made out of glass supported by the same wood as in his Wishbone chair.

Balloon - Dögg Gudmundsdóttir Photo:  Dögg Design

Balloon – Dögg Gudmundsdóttir
Photo: Dögg Design

How do you choose materials for your work?

I like to work with different materials and very often I choose to work with natural materials that I can find around, sometimes for free such as I have done in the Stranda tables that are made out of driftwood from the Western-fjords in Iceland as well as the black beachsand that is so strongly associated with Iceland.  The same goes for the Uggi-lights that I did with Fanney Antonsdóttir, who are made out of dried cod-skin referring to Icelands dependency on fishing through the ages as well as the old conservation method of drying fish.

Uggi by Dögg Gudmundsdóttir and Fanney Antonsdóttir Photo:  Dögg Design

Uggi by Dögg Gudmundsdóttir and Fanney Antonsdóttir
Photo: Åsa Maria Mikkelsen

Stranda by Dögg Gudmundsdóttir Photo:  Dögg Design

Stranda by Dögg Gudmundsdóttir
Photo: Dögg Design

What does your design reflect?

It can be a response to a need of mine or somebody else’s in cases when I´m contacted and asked for a special idea or there is special theme such as in the annual SE-design (Snedkerens Efterårsutdstilling) exhibitions where members are asked to design pieces according to a special theme.  In my design, I try to add an element of surprise by e.g. using old materials in a new way.  Most importantly, my aim is to create a timeless design that you will not get tired of and can have around for a long time.

Star - Dögg Gudmundsdottir Photo: Dögg Design

Star – Dögg Gudmundsdottir
Photo: Ligne Roset

Do you see a difference between local and global trends in design? 

Nowadays, I think global and local trends can be hard to point out as the world we live in seems to have no borders with goods and people moving with more ease from one place to another. I think the material is the only thing that can count as local since designers are travelling around, making local design a global design.

Fifty chair - Dögg & Arnved Photo:  Dögg Design

Fifty chair – Dögg & Arnved
Photo: Ligne Roset

Do you try to avoid trends or embrace influences around you?

I try to avoid trends and be true to myself. I would like to be my own trend so therefore I try to avoid the mass market.

Is there anyone that has made an impact on you as a designer?  

So many colleagues have made impact on me. I love to discuss with my colleagues the meaning of design, the more the merrier.

What´s next for Dögg?

My dream is to produce my own designs and be able to make a living of it.  I would like to design and produce useful items made either by machine or hand with up-cycled  or organic materials that can be eaten afterwards by, humans, animals or the earth itself without polluting the earth. Right now I´m focusing on producing my newest idea’s made for the Kosmos exhibition in Iceland and the 100 Year Wegner exhibition.

You can check out more of Dögg´s design here.

The exhibition, Kosmos, is open until June 8th. 2014.

 

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