Preface and acknowledgements

As the exhibition title, ‘Magma/Kvika’, suggests, this is a moment of simmering creative energy in Icelandic design. The exhibition offers a view beneath the crust through the work of more than sixty prominent designers of furniture, clothing, lighting, jewelry, architecture, textile, technical innovations and cuisine. The development of five new projects has been specially sponsored for this exhibition.  

Design is a fertile area of visual culture, where art and life meet. Magma explores the artistic side of design as well as its important connection to commerce. Without design, industry is hardly imaginable and without creative effort, our environment is bound to be dull and tedious, even oppressive. If our quality of life depends upon the quality of the design around us, the sheer creativity of the objects gathered at Kjarvalsstadir this summer gives us a reason for hope and celebration.

Founded in 1973, the Reykjavík Art Museum is the largest visual art institution in Iceland. Its mission to present contemporary art in its many manifestations is carried out through diverse programs at the museum’s three venues: Hafnarhús, Kjarvalsstaðir, and Ásmundarsafn. Architecture has been a part of the museum programs since 1993, when a special position was established for the research and organization of architectural exhibitions. Other design has been an occasional focus at the museum, but a comprehensive look at recent developments in Icelandic design is long overdue. The last large-scale design exhibition was on display in the year 2000, and there has been much development in the intervening years. 

The curator of Magma/Kvika, Gudrun Lilja Gunnlaugsdottir, is in a unique position to lead us into the world of contemporary Icelandic design. She is an internationally acclaimed designer herself and the winner of the 2006 Icelandic Visual Arts Award. The hard work that she has put into the preparation of this exhibition is much appreciated.

I like to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to our main sponsor, Straumur Burdaras, to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Reykjavík Art Festival for their generous support of the exhibition. Many thanks also to the printers of this catalogue, Oddi, and to the graphic designers from the advertisement agency Gott fólk. Their contributions have made this publication possible. I am grateful to the Iceland Design Forum for their cooperation and, last but not least, I want to thank the designers who participate in the exhibition for their inspired and inspiring work.

Hafthor Yngvason, Director
Reykjavík Art Museum






Mobile | Contact us | Sitemap | Large/small     




Visit the museum
Open: 10:00 - 17:00
Thursday 10:00 - 20:00


Visit the museum
Open 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.





Visit the museum
1. May - 30. Sep. 10-5
1. Oct. - 30. Apr. 1-5