My desk in Oslo with the Mac, textile from Mozambique and photo from the Greenland Project.

It is great to come to my work place in KHiO, my academy in Norway. My desk is my place and friend and now summer is pretending to arrive. Sun and people sitting outside the school for the lunch and chat.

The yard outside our school in Oslo today with the river passing and people talking.

We are going through the dialogue about how design is changing fundamentally and how we participate in the change of the world. I agree with Paola Antonelly who says that Design Takes over Here.

We are talking in our project. Here are some of us:






March 13, 2012   Posted in: ARCHITECTURE, ART, DESIGN, FASHION, SUSTAINABILITY  Comments Closed


Strategy as a term actually comes from military origin and refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal or goals. An identical definition has often been used to define design. The dictionary says for the term ‘design’:

  1. To conceive or fashion in the mind; invent: ‘design a good excuse for not attending the conference’
  2. To formulate a plan for; devise: ‘designed a marketing strategy for the new product’
  3. To plan out in systematic, usually graphic form: ‘design a building; design a computer program’
  4. To create or contrive for a particular purpose or effect: ‘a game designed to appeal to all ages’
  5. have as a goal or purpose; ‘intend’
  6. To create or execute in an artistic or highly skilled manner.

So strategy and design are actually terms for very similar activity, while design schools and design practices have traditionally aimed at making cute and simple solutions and objects. There have been very formal activities in terms of physical and mental form rather than conceptual. This focus has changed radically during the last decade and today the greatest demand for design skills is in services, human interactions, social solutions and environmental change – not in form giving.

It is the policy of the design faculty to inform so that the graduates will be better prepared to participate in future solutions, in industry, business or  in global or national governal activities. It so happens that more than 50% of the users of design today live in the developing world while we have were previously teaching our graduates to design things that are only vialble in Western society. The term Design for the Other 90% has become ever more important for designers, both because of a social and environmental motivations, but also because this sector is the fastest growing economic sector.

The design faculty participates in strategic design projects in various local and global locations and has a direct cooperation with the new Academy of Arts in Mozambique where the students participate in design strategic development work.

The course will introduce these projects and demand from students to initiate ideas for such strategic work.

March 11, 2012   Posted in: DESIGN, PONDERINGS, SUSTAINABILITY  Comments Closed


I have met friends in Iceland that have built a Mongolian Yurt and are doing creative projects and promotion of a different way of working and living. We had great conversation about the use of materials and the traditions that are inherent in this kind of adaptable architecture. The Mongolian Yurts are attracting interest from people in many parts of the world as an ecologically friendly and attractive living space that can be used for a variety of purposes. Erwin van der Werve and his wife Þóra Sólveig Bergsteinsdóttir have been travelling with their construction to exhibitions creating events and meeting locals in various places. It is obvious that their work is very devoted and their construction is something that could stimulate and support various activities in culture. Here is information about the construction and use.

I myself am especially interested in the comparism one can make between this culture and the various other cultures like the laps in Northern Scandinavia, the Indian culture in Canada, Eskimo culture in Greenland etc. It will be interesting to compare similarities and define differences. This is something that we are doing in our research into sweat culture like the Traditional Canadian Sweat culture and many more. We have built some structures and experimented and will continue the coming years with design and architecture students. Maybe one day one will find something worth reflecting on after this.

The Yurt is a circular structure built using a wooden, accordion frame that can be easily taken down, made compact for carrying, and reassembled. On this frame are placed three to four layers of felt, traditionally made from sheep’s wool, and an outer layer of waterproof canvas. The felt and canvas are secured to the wooden frame and the resulting structure can stand securely in one place for months or even years at a time.

One questions how adaptable this construction is but it is inspiring and relates to cultural heritage and can stimulate other search into older cultures that have developed for centuries.

I like the adaptability and flexibility in transport. Creating events is important in today’s culture where adventure and communication always becomes more important. I hope they manage to develop events and will definitely try to work out some support for this project.



One of the greenhouses is being now used as the restaurant and presentation location. Solheimar today provides all its production to localities off the Reykjavik capital and suburbs.

Here is a photo album from Sólheimar

I went for a visit one more time to Sólheimar, the oldest eco farm in Iceland. They are working development ideas and we have together applied for funds to run Nordic course there next year. I will post more information about Sólheimar or you can click on their site.

Solheimar Ecovillage website in English for those that like to learn more.

Hard guest workers from various countries learning from me how to make credit card holders like I learned in Africa. Using milk containers. Here are images from the design market last summer in Reykjavik where we introduced these holders.

Candles being made in one of the workshops.

March 5, 2012   Posted in: DESIGN, ICELAND, SUSTAINABILITY  Comments Closed


February 5, 2012   Posted in: ART, DESIGN, ICELAND, MUSIC  Comments Closed


Egilsstaðir is a small town in the Eastern part of Iceland. A very young town, I remember when I came there first in the 60’s it was very mellow commercial and school location central in the country being a link to all the fjords with very active fisheries. The main school was located close and the town holds still the main airport for the eastern part of Iceland. Even providing the occasional flight to Europe. The main and nowadays only sea-passenger transport from Europe comes into Seyðisfjörður with Smyril Line, only 45 km away. This town holds the Blue Factory where we run our summer school in an old herring factory that is off limits in the winter time because of snow avalance danger.

For the last years Egilsstaðir has been the hub for the developing of the sad Aluminium Factory in the East of Iceland that has damaged badly the highland environment with arrogant electric power stations etc. See here. But enough of that. Egilsstaðir has also many small activities driven by the locals producing small industry, bio food, crafts etc. Now after the gold-rush of the aluminium factory building the locals are opening up small activities again and I have been so lucky to visit some of them last week.

There is a small workshop being run there and included in that is a small project funded by the EU that goes by the name CC.  Þorpið (see post here) and various other funds supporting new iniciatives for crafts and arts driven industries. This is very much in line with the activities in close areas like Seyðisfjörður where the LUNGA arts festival is housed and I have blogged before. I must admit that after the sad industrial building activities period for the aluminium factory and the electric power station it will be possible to go back to small initiatives, creativity and personal design and services. It is the only way to run a society and create culture. Here are a few images from my visits in various posts. Great work in the workshop in Egilsstaðir where we met Signý Ormarsdóttir and Lára Vilbergsdóttir. Also the various things made by Anna Gunnlaugsdóttir and her husband out of reindeer bones and feet.

Reindeer materials 

My dear old friend the Scout Car 

Þorpið, a workshop in Egilsstaðir   (Blog here)

Eco Farm Vallanes (Blog here)




February 3, 2012   Posted in: ART, DESIGN, ICELAND, PONDERINGS, SUSTAINABILITY  Comments Closed


We had one more project in ISArC in Mozambique in the end of the year. The first week of summer holiday was damaged by our short term workshop in computer graphic design and in clothing tayloring. Håvard Steensen, a graphic designer from our school in Oslo and Dagfinn Skoglund a fashion design teacher in the same school came to run the fast workshop, testing materials and potentials. Here are a few images of the results, both from the studio and some are project results. And here are images from the workshop activity.

February 1, 2012   Posted in: AFRICA, DESIGN, FASHION, ISAC - KHiO, MOZAMBIQUE  Comments Closed


A photo of the window of the workshop in evening with lots of snow outside. We are all there chatting, Lára, Signý and Sóley with me facing the window with the camera.

Yesterday we were invited to meet Lára Vilbergsdóttir and Signý Ormarsdóttir in the workshop Þorpið. The Icelandic word Þorpið is a common name meaning ‘village’ or small town holding two specific letters that are only Icelandic. The workshop is approximately two years old and has been for experimenting in making things out of local materials and know-how. It felt like a very classic workshop with very good facilities for many different things, from ceramics to soft textiles. The photos tell more than words. Lára and Signý explained the structure of the workshop, the largest project is Euro funded but they are open for more activities with outside workers/artists/crafts people. In my opinion this is an excellent opportunity for the exploration of new methods in dealing with local materials or/and re-awakening older methods into the present day culture of fast bought things from global supermarkets that bring over rubbish from Asia. I have belief in such efforts wherever globally, small action and small communities rather than the global terrorizing companies. And the spirit is the same in Iceland or Mozambique. We are all very similar while also enjoying our specialities. Here are a few images from our visit.

January 30, 2012   Posted in: ART, DESIGN, FASHION, ICELAND, SUSTAINABILITY  Comments Closed


The beautiful landscape mid winter with the green houses waiting for the spring planting.

The only eco-farm in the East of Iceland is named Vallanes. It has been in operation since early 70’s and has acquired a strong reputation in the whole country. Friends in Reykjavik buy the products, in many different forms, greens, beans, jams etc. etc.

Móðir Jörð is a trade mark for production in Vallanes and specializes in growing organic barley. Barley has played a part in Icelandic culinary history ever since Iceland’s settlement in the 9th Century.  For a few centuries it was forgotten in Iceland, but it has recently started to make its way into Icelandic contemporary cuisine.  Móðir Jörð – Vallanes  is known for its pioneering role in Iceland in re-introducing barley for human consumption. The owner of Vallanes Mr. Eymundur Magnússon started organic farming with barley in 1985.  The farm focuses on developing the farming of grains and vegetables in Iceland, and on producing products made from local, Icelandic ingredients, most of which are produced sustainably on the farm.

Vallanes is located in East Iceland, near a glacial lake, midway between Egilsstaðir and Hallormsstaður. Vallanes is the only bio farm in the region, but one hopes that more will start soon. All eco production in Iceland sells today and there is strong demand for more. The location area is known for its forests and relatively mild climate. The fields around Vallanes have been shaped with the planting of over 1,000,000 trees, some of which make shelterbelts that protect the growing crops. You can see more about the farm here.

Some of the products from the farm, available in shops in Iceland and in Reykjavik.

January 29, 2012   Posted in: ICELAND, SUSTAINABILITY  Comments Closed


We have so far had a fantastic final day in our project. Lots of experimental work has been done and will be posted during the coming days. Ten groups of students are presenting their ideas, results of conversations and experiments. Here is a simple photo album that will be extended as material arrives.



The project has been run for one week now and people are coming together with dialogue, finding common ways and what is worth talking about and approaching. The groups have moved around town, visited various activities locations, visited arts and design shows and basically come together. The second week is the one for more action ending with a dialogue presentation when we come to the close of this week. All looking very much forward to the conclusions that are going to be the beginnings of new things, ideas and methods.

Here are images from the last day this week.

And here is the project website.

January 22, 2012   Posted in: ARCHITECTURE, ART, DESIGN, FASHION, ICELAND, PONDERINGS  Comments Closed


One of the groups is experimenting with dialogue and demonstrations and finding out how to present and live things. Here is a photo session from the event.

January 18, 2012   Posted in: ARCHITECTURE, ART, DESIGN, ICELAND, PONDERINGS  Comments Closed



Kristín Gunnarsdóttir, fashion designer and worker in the Iceland Design Centre giving her inspirational talk about creativity and being simple in the search.

January 18, 2012   Posted in: ARCHITECTURE, ART, DESIGN, FASHION, ICELAND, PONDERINGS  Comments Closed


Hanna Styrmisdóttir giving the first tutor talk in the lecture series.

One of the groups doing exercise


Photo Gallery from Day One click here!

Today we started our dialogue about design and art in current conditions. A completely interdisciplinary work and also arrived visiting students from foreign school. I have 120 students in the course and 10 great mentors doing the dialogue. We had at least great fun last year in this course opening up questions and wonders about the future. I hope for the greatest again with the super gang of tutors and students. Here are a few images from the first day but I will post lots more and we also have an active site specifically made for the course. Here it is.

One of the groups conversing about what to do and finding common grounds

January 16, 2012   Posted in: ART, DESIGN, FASHION, ICELAND, MUSIC  Comments Closed


Last year we ran a cooperative workshop in Iceland that I was lucky enough to be asked to organize. All students in the Arts Academy (Listaháskóli Íslands) in one year took part so I had 110 students from all the studies, theatre, dance, music, fine arts, various design fields etc. They worked in groups and presented their thoughts and ideas in various forms. This group made an opera about the Icelander and the current economy. Icelandic opera diva Diddú helped out by singing the National Anthem.

Here is a presentation from Neskirkja church in Reykjavik from one other group.

January 6, 2012   Posted in: ART, DESIGN, ICELAND, MUSIC, PONDERINGS  Comments Closed