Orr is like a world of its own. Orr is a jewellery shop in downtown Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland, where you can find jewellery that is simply a work of art, whether they’re made of silver, gold, white gold or platinum, with or without all kinds of precious stones. It’s like a world that the goldsmith and designer Kjartan Örn Kjartansson creates.
Iceland is the country where the elves live in stones and where the hidden people sing and dance. Iceland is also the country where you can experience magic, either because of the midnight sun during the summer months or because of the northern lights that dance during the winter nights. You can also experience magic in Orr – a modern jewellery shop in downtown Reykjavík.
“I’ve always been constructing all kinds of things for as long as I can remember, all kinds of objects from iron and other metals, wood and old electronics,” Kjartan Örn Kjartansson says. “I used to dismantle all the appliances in our home and try to change how they look. I learned plumbing in Akureyri [a town in northern Iceland] and worked as such for few years but after I moved to Reykjavík I suddenly started goldsmithing. Natural interest in constructing and making was the main reason but I also found the materials intriguing.
I never really had any particular interest in jewellery before becoming a goldsmith. What interested me the most was experimentation with form, trying to break up traditional methods. Constantly looking for new ways of making things and gold syntheses offers such endless possibilities of beauty.”
A successful experiment
Kjartan says that Orr is a place where everything is possible, a place without any regulations and that nothing can stop him from doing what he wants to do. “If it’s possible to make a living out of having fun then Orr is a successful experiment.”
“I focus on highlighting playful features and movement in my items, preferably they need to be impossible to make. They testify to the thrill of play, they are a celebration of the unexpected. I’m always ready to make a sacrifice to be able to make a piece that is beautiful and works. And I absolutely try not to count in the value of the material I’m working with.
Ég vil ekki læra að bíða og bíða,
betra´ er að stökkva og falla´ en að skríða.
I don’t want to learn to wait and wait,
better to jump and fall ’ than to crawl.
I cherish this quote by Jóhann Sigurjónsson, an Icelandic poet and playwright born in 1880.
Ideas swirl and then take shape in the working progress itself; they’re rarely fully formed in advance. It can start as an idea of some isolated thing as a particular function that I’d like to experiment with and becomes something in the construction progress. It grows as if it was organic and forms a concept.”
The dot over the i
Yes, Orr is like a world of its own. There you can see rings that would not fit in any gloves. Some of them are like sculptures.
“The jewellery is different than usual because they’re made to make life more fun. They’re not supposed to be traditional status symbols. I have reached my goal if the jewels make me feel happy while making them and others can enjoy them too.
I make jewellery out of silver, gold, white gold and platinum and with these precious metals I use all kinds of precious stones. I don’t emphasise one over the other nor do I limit myself to these materials — I like using untraditional material in the mix.”
Kjartan says that in his mind jewellery is the dot over the i. “A piece of jewellery is personal, beautiful and a bearer of joy from generation to generation.
It means a great deal for me to be able to experiment in my work with constructing things out of precious metals and when I do get the chance to focus on the making of something the possibilities are endless.”
Photos courtesy of Orr.
For more information about Orr visit www.orr.is
Tags: jewellery, Orr
Svava Jónsdóttir, who is Icelandic, has worked as a journalist for the past 23 years and has written three books. She has a BA-degree in Spanish and literature, a diploma in journalism, a teaching certification and a diploma in international relations. She is also a member of the board of the United Nations Association of Iceland. Her interests? Literature and music; she studied music for about a decade. And she likes to travel.
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