This is the front of the Cirrus Website that I made some years ago. I have posted important material from that site also here on my site so not much will go missing if this site will die. I am not responsible for running this site or network longer so the site might go missing. The header and logo was designed by Soley and fits very well the network. I wish the netwok the best future and hope I can support when it fits. Here is the link to the site. The image shows the last post from me.

November 22, 2012   Posted in: ARCHITECTURE, DESIGN, PONDERINGS  Comments Closed


Meeting 16th Februar 2012.

The Cirrus Website has crashed so the images have to be replaced soon


Part of the crowd in the meeting

The 6th annual teacher meeting took place in Copenhagen in mid February. The last year has been a bit different dealing with cut funds from the Nordic Council of Ministers, probably because of global finance situation. But lots of activity has taken place in more limited form. It was stimulating to visit the new premises of the Copenhagen School and realize the potential of localizing all the institutes close for future common goals. The program was traditional like members have always stated is good.

Tine Kjølsen, rector KADK gave the velcome to the meeting and went through program oversight and plans. She gave reflections about the changes that are taking place in the Copenhagen school with the move and joining forces with other institutes.

After that Halldór Gíslason professorOslo National Academy and leader of Cirrus went through the formalities and agendas for the coming year, projects and ideas and promoted the next date for annual application March 1st.

Thomas Binder assistant professor presented co-design cluster work in Copenhagen and gave presentation as to content, researchers and integration in the school curricula.

Two students that just graduated from Master in Copenhagen presented a project done in Nuuk in Greenland, studying conditions and potentials for change and development. The assembly was lucky enough to be able to see the show of the project just before it was disassembled.

The Copenhagen school presented a project done in Marrocco in textiles involving empowerment of women and development of handicraft design.

Lunch dialogue in the Copenhagen School Canteen

Seminars that took place for open dialogue were two:

-       Regional strengths. How do we support regionality and local strengths in relation to globally active business?

-       Changes in Design Education – New Approaches and Challenges, Cross-disciplinary Study Programmes.

There was strong opinion that Cirrus could support mapping of the strengths and differences between member schools so that all can develop strengths and specialities. It was decided to try to gain funds for this mapping for next period.

Here is a photo album from the event.

From the exhibition of the work done in Nuuk, Greenland. Imagined Space, a project that was initiated by a Cirrus workshop in Nuuk two years ago.

November 22, 2012   Posted in: DESIGN  Comments Closed


1. Cirrus Policy. The main purpose is to sustain a global powerhouse in design through education and research in the Nordic-Baltic region. And to pay attention to the specialities that strengthen design, crafts, arts and innovation in the region. The network promotes Nordic-Baltic cooperation between the member institutions through staff, student and researcher’s exchange, intensive projects, symposia, meeting points, transfer of knowledge activities, workshops.

2. Reach is such an activity, where opposite partner students will meet and help with reaching goals and ideas for common strategies. The workshop will look at what is common and what are the differences. How does innovation and design have universals and what are local specialities? How can REACH help determine what is Nordic-Baltic?

3. Innovation includes four basic factors:


sophisticated users

factor conditions


 The Nordic-Baltic region wants to improve conditions for innovation and global competitiveness. The same is the strategy of all the institutes in Cirrus. The network has many acting elements to define and map the conditions for this. Most of the search is academic and well developed, happens in conferences, in scientific papers, high level meetings through dialogue of professors and professional actors.

4. Dialogue. This project wants to include a different dimension to the dialogue, one that is often ignored, but the Cirrus institutes have good access to. The opinions and future perspectives of young people in innovation and the creative fields. Similarly, there are geographical power locations for creative innovation, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Stockholm etc. What is the perspective from further afar in the region?

5. Reach wants to run an exercise in seeking opinions and policy advice from young people from the edges of the region. A workshop is to be held in the Iceland Cirrus member academy with the annual Meeting of Teachers in June 2012. There, young students from the edges, Iceland, Greenland, Lithuania and Latvia will meet up and go through dialogue exercises to create opinions about the region, how it reaches from edge to edge, find common grounds and differences.

6. The workshop will deliver a report in form of presentation and website to open up a dialogue about the future of the region, its relationship to global issues, sustainability and hopefully can come up with some advice to policy makers, teachers of design and art and curriculum program developers. The platform framework questions put forward will be those of the Nordic Council of Ministers Reports. There is a need for young opinions and policy advice.

7. Facilitators.

  • Jóhannes Þórðarson, (dean and architect/planner) Iceland Academy of the Arts.
  • Lotta Kvist, Designer MFA, Head of Dept. HDK School of Design and Crafts, Sweden.
  • Halldór Gíslason, professor, Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Norway; leader of Cirrus.

8. Program. After an other Cirrus workshop in Iceland named: Local Holistic Sustainability in the Progress of Global Reality? a few days will be spent in the Iceland Academy of the Arts in Reykjavik. The work will include reporting and socializing with the academy.

Student participants will be selected from five edge schools in Cirrus. Exercises in dialogue and decision making takes place all days, reaching conclusions as recommendations to the Cirrus institutes. All operations will be posted on website and presented to member schools. Participation demands are that the students are students of design in their Cirrus institutes and speak English.

9. Plan of workshop. During the previous workshop in Iceland, some of the same students participate during the week before and occasionally touch on edge conditions issues.

Weekend 9th and 10th of June after previous Cirrus workshop, Dori Gislason explains the search and asks for creative and active positions from all students. This weekend is also the final graduation day of the Iceland Academy and students are invited there to meet all local students and academy.

Monday 11th June, workshop all day, dialogue and proposals. Tuesday 12th June workshop all day and dialogue. Wednesday 13th June, conclusion and return home Thursday 14th.

Report and results posted spontaneously on web links from the Cirrus website made available to all partner schools and open on internet. This results in direct communication to all Cirrus partner schools and will be reported to the meeting of Cirrus heads and teachers in the autumn.

November 22, 2012   Posted in: DESIGN, ICELAND  No Comments


A course in Iceland July 15th – 22nd – 2012

Here is a description of a summer workshop in the Blue Factory in Iceland. Fourth time this Icelandic event takes place in conjunction with LUNGA WORKSHOP.

Click here for the project and workshop description named: Pre-Christianity Roots of Nordic Creative Language.

November 22, 2012   Posted in: DESIGN, ICELAND  No Comments


The aim of the event of unusual format – unconference – is to create network among young designers and use it as a platform for further actions. Event is planned to be held in February. Young designers and design students from each Nordic-Baltic region country will participate.

Young designers from 9 Nordic-Baltic region design schools are organizing  B!Young Designers Unconference in Vilnius Lithuania in February 2013. The aim of the event of unusual format – unconference – is to create network among young designers and use it as a platform for further actions. It will be a seminar-workshop-type event where the position of young designers` and design education in the region is discussed.

The Unconference is initiated by students who met in a Cirrus workshop REACH in Iceland this summer 2012. Here is a link to the summary of the happenings

There will be delegation from each country of the region. The Unconference will be a place to meet up and get to know the conditions to make future plans for communication between participants and institutions.

The participating schools are:

Lithuania: Vilnius Academy of Arts

Latvia: Art Academy of Latvia

Estonia: Estonian Academy of Arts

Finland: Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture

Sweden: HDK – School of Design and Crafts, Gothenburg

Norway: Oslo National Academy of Arts

Denmark: Kolding School of Design

Iceland: Iceland Academy of Arts

Greenland: NAPA – the Nordic Institution in Greenland, Nuuk, Greenland

For further information contact (

This is a continuation of the meeting in Iceland, see here: XXXXXXXXX

November 22, 2012   Posted in: DESIGN, ICELAND  Comments Closed


It is not and has never been easy to live on earth. This does not mean it should be hard and just difficult. We need art and mental stimulation to survive just like food and fresh air and water. We continue talking and writing now about how we are damaging our earth and how we can change how we are damaging our conditions. The words say:

“This glorification of easy isn’t limited to the newest environmental self-help books. The Web sites of the big U.S. environmental groups, the Environmental Protection Agency and even the American Association for the Advancement of Science offer markedly similar lists of actions that tell us we can change the world through our consumer choices, choices that are economic, simple, even stylish. Al Gore himself isn’t immune. His recent Live Earth concert featured a who’s-who lineup of celebrities who said that if we all do our little bit to recycle and conserve — the simple things, mind you, because that’s all we’ll need (translation: that’s all they think we’ll go for) — we can together rescue the world for our children and grandchildren.”

The issues ahead are large and we need hard workers and innovative people to deal with what to do. Everyone has to make the effort.

“The time for easy is over. We’re grown-ups who understand the necessity of hard work and difficult choices. We’re ready for frank talk about how we best confront — in ways rewarding, confusing, creative and hard — the planetary emergency before us.”

Look at this text to ponder further.


November 19, 2012   Posted in: PONDERINGS, SUSTAINABILITY  Comments Closed


Sesselja (left) and Vala (right) in their presentation in San Fransisco: Presentation here

After the economic collapse of Iceland (one of the worst in global history), Vala Halldorsdottir and Sesselja Vilhjalmsdottir found themselves at square one. Perhaps that very phrase (“square one”) occurred to them at that point, because their new financial strategy had them inventing a board game.

Instead of resting on their laurels, Vala and Sesselja decided to have a go at another risky business: Film. Fascinated with the nature of entrepreneurship, they set out to record the stories of entrepreneurs from New York, Copenhagen, London, and San Francisco.

After a few years of planning and making and trying to get things done they are launching the new game and documentary etc. Here is a short list of what is going on now:


FB – The Startup Kids

Film Master


Brain steam board game

It is stimulating when our young gang manages to do much better than we can do.


November 15, 2012   Posted in: DESIGN, ICELAND, PONDERINGS  Comments Closed


The title of this blog can be very arrogant. We often do not know what is well done and how to measure. I am these days using short version in measuring what and how is well done using five classes:  DIVERSITY, EARTH, ENERGY, FOOD, TECHNOLOGY. This I will explain better at a later stage, but I am working on some projects now that use this classification.

This way I can try to measure in my mind how things are dealing with our current conditions, how we work to a possible future. The TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE has become also my way of measuring the quality of design and basically how people, products deal with our conditions. A website has been sent to me with various solutions and some of them I really like.

For example is this toilet solution so silly and simple while it deals with fundamental issues that we are arriving at. Of course the future is Sustainable Sanitation but at least there is promotion of environmental thought in this solution. I like it and also put here a few links that people might enjoy looking through.

WELL DONE STUFF (various solutions to daily things)

SUSAN DESIGN (a different way to deal with sanitation)

GENDER DESIGN IN KOREA (a local competition dealing with gender issues)

DESIGN TO IMPROVE LIFE (examples of design for improvement)

DO IT YOURSELF (doing it yourself meets the web)

November 8, 2012   Posted in: ARCHITECTURE, DESIGN, PONDERINGS, SUSTAINABILITY  Comments Closed


Last year I realized that I had almost lived half my time on Earth abroad and not in my natural country Iceland. But I have never seen me anything other than an Icelander, travelling all over my native grounds in tradition from my parents and family. I remember great trips with grannies in their new 1967 robust camper car and my grandfather shouting out in one of the hills in North Iceland “60 km speed! I have never driven so fast before!”

Passing one of the grand glacial rivers in South Iceland, Markarfljót.

But I have enjoyed great friendships and adventures in the mountains and on the glaciers in Iceland – and of course in the town centre of Reykjavik – and it is great to be a bit more back in the country linking to my past and tradition – even though illness is the reason for this turn around. I will come over  that again. This past weekend I participated in one of our autumn traditions, going mountaineering in super-jeeps, sleeping in isolated cabins and passing impassable terraine. This time one of the excuses was the 60th birthday of one of my long time close friends Valdi Rakari. I have to post some images here for those interested – they are self centered and probably private but at the same time they show the quality of friendship and experience with nature. This is one of the few operations where only guys participate but most of the time we have mixed gender travel and entertainment. Like next weekend we will have the JÖRFÍ annual ball in town, celebrating the glacier exploration work from the past year. Hope friends enjoy and understand the quality of friendship and nature beyond business or politics.

Here is an album from the trip.

Here is the landscape album from the trip.

Dinner being served in Þórsmörk.

November 5, 2012   Posted in: ICELAND, PONDERINGS  Comments Closed


The study of the Icelandic language is being published and in this case especially the story of the Icelandic letter Ð. Today the opening event was for the new and very pleasant book. The name of the book is ð-biography.

The publisher is Crymogea and their link is here.

October 31, 2012   Posted in: DESIGN, ICELAND  Comments Closed


To reach someone else is most important for any development. We usually never operate alone. In the Nordic Network that is named Cirrus and I have directed for over 6 years we have that aim as fundamental for designers. Institutions, teachers and above all students. The students are the people that will take over and look out for our environment and life. A project named REACH was selected to focus on those that are distanced in the Nordic region so that they can meet up and compare notes. Something that has actually been difficult in the presticious Nordic design world. Usually only the select few that have been approved are asked to come along and tell their opinions. This is something that one knows from national design promotions and international meetings. For example only a small number of the same Icelandic designers are invited to promotion exhibitions and events by the state, and I have come to know the same in the other countries I have lived, for example in Norway. The foreign promotion departments and promotion systems is composed of a small number of friends that select each other for foreign activity and promotion. And especially those that are younger and experimental are not invited as part of the national promotion of the design activity. Reach is an effort to work opposite to this.

Reach was the beginning of an activity, where opposite partner students met to discuss goals and ideas for common strategies. The workshop looked at what is common and what are the differences.

Here is a video from the course. that preceded the Reach where the students conversed and experimented with alternative design activity. Here is also an earlier blog about our activity.

There has been a story told that there are geographical power locations for creative innovation: Copenhagen, Helsinki, Stockholm etc. The project goal was to seek for what is the perspective from further afar in the region?

A workshop was held in the Iceland which is a Cirrus member academy where students from the edges of Cirrus: Iceland, Greenland, Lithuania and Latvia met up for dialogue about the region, how it reaches from edge to edge, find common grounds and differences without the dominance of the central larger design power hosues in the Nordic region.

After this event the students have started planning their own collective meeting with less dominance of us in the older generation of design schools, where the up todate knowledge and potential of design is opened in opposition to the traditional design programs. The plan is that this event takes place early 2013 in the Baltic region. Hopefully the member schools and administration will support this effort that comes from the students themselves and not from the top level administrators.

Here is a simple photo album from the event that took place in Reykjavik this summer.



Patak and Rósa giving a presentation of the place and activities.

A collection of images from the visit

In our symposium in East Iceland we went around the region visiting various creatives. It was as always very stimulating seeing all the energy and enthusiasm that goes on all over Iceland. In my mind I ponder two reasons for this: a) Iceland is so small that we are almost all partly or fully educated abroad while almost all return home to their origins but with lots of connections and experiences. b) After the finance collapse of the grown upp bankers and fish/aluminium business dreamers Icelanders have opened up their old dreams of being special in the Mid-North Atlantic between Europe and America. The athmosphere that I remember from my youth before the aluminium smelting took over the minds of business. Iceland is a very young economy and actually a state, only gaining freedom from Danish control during the last World War and the young culture still needs some generations to mature. The design school that we started just over a decade ago is really now only gaining some history, locally educated academics and dialogue. But still development needs more time to grow up. While I say this I am also happy to say that the old fashioned and greatly damaging academic control that is dominant in neighbouring countries has not managed to kill fresh ways of dealing with life and responding to modern needs. This is what makes me proud to be an Icelander.

The gang in Stöðvarfjörður is a typical such great energy creating continuation of work in creativity, changing a dead fish factory into a creative centre by local people in collaboration with foreign energy that is so great to have with us in Iceland. I just must state my admiration for their great work, both the ‘returners’ (Icelanders educated abroad that have returned) and the ‘new Icelanders’ (people that somehow have fallen in love with our culture).

I ask readers here to distribute the news of this effort and maybe look for potential collaborations in form of visiting designers/artists, collaborative courses from academic institutions or just potential dream creations in opposition to the bad industry and economy that is badly damaging the Icelandic (and actually Western) culture.

Some more news about this effort is here.



Photo collection from the event.

Preparation going on for the exhibition that they organized

Activists, designers, developers, politicians, public servants etc. etc. etc. spent great time together in East Iceland for the MAKE IT HAPPEN – Creative Thinking Conference on the 25th – 28th of September. It was great to meet so many people with similar development interests while they were not classic Design Conference people that I have met so often. We visited various locations where people are developing solutions and markets and especially for local creative activity in opposition to the common global design strategy that very often plans production of often useless things produced in Asia or wider. The conference is the culmination of a two year development project that can be seen here on connected websites.

Continuous dialogue and move to visit many workshops and activists

We had great conversations and many dreamed of new or more collaborations or just admired what others have managed to do. We visited designers and artists that are trying to survive in various ways, from home making or for redeveloping old fish factories.

I just want to thank the great people for the great effort they are making. For the stimulating dialogue that took place and all the dreams that we can try to continue to realize in opposition to globalism and environmentally damaging commercialism. Here are some images and comments from the sessions.

Unfortunately for some of them they had to listen to me talk

A reflection from Vopnafjörður about the event.



The bike workshop in Reykjavik is moving into new premises Saturday tomorrow. They have been working hard in developing this activity for health and culture in Iceland, creating competitions and opportunities for bikes as the good way to live. Here are a few images from the new premises.

September 28, 2012   Posted in: DESIGN, FASHION, ICELAND, SUSTAINABILITY  Comments Closed


A very stimulating Cirrus development project took place in Iceland this summer where students from network schools participated with teachers from 3 different schools. This project has been posted here on the site. Here are descriptive links about the activity.

Video of the week activity

Video from the workshop in Höfn

Students in the Iceland Academy participated to disseminate the activity in video form and here we post the video that hopefully describes how we operate together for results. The workhsop ended in a local exhibition in the lobby of the town hall. Further Cirrus results from thw project is an idea for a meeting of students from member schools in the nework about how design is changing in relation to the developments of design participation in national, international and industrial activities. We will especially look at how local initiatives in industry, agriculture and services can be improved by design participation where often designers have not been involved previously.

Here is a photo gallery from the workshop

September 3, 2012   Posted in: DESIGN, FASHION, ICELAND, SUSTAINABILITY  Comments Closed