Issuu on Google+

I&I Issues and Images

Iceland

2 • 2009


Photo: Páll Stefánsson

Issues and Images Vol. 5 2-2009 Editor: Benedikt Jóhannesson benedikt@heimur.is Staff writers: Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir eyglo@heimur.is Design: Erlingur Páll Ingvarsson Photographers: Geir Ólafsson, Jennifer Zoltek, Páll Kjartansson and Páll Stefánsson TCI Editorial Consultant: Lilja Vidarsdóttir lilja@icetrade.is On the cover: Photo by Páll Kjartansson Printing: Oddi Published for the Trade Council of Iceland by Heimur Publishing Ltd. www.icelandreview.com Copyright Heimur Publishing. No articles in the magazine may be reproduced elsewhere in whole or in part without the prior permission of the publisher. icelandreview@icelandreview.com

2

I&I


Contents

I&I

4 On and off Iceland Places Second in Eurovision Song Contest Export Award 2009 to Vaki A New Icelandic Track and Field Star Is Born Awards for women’s choir 6 Politics – Not as Usual A left-wing government wins a majority for the first time. 8 An Unusual Minister Gylfi Magnússon went directly from the University of Iceland to the Ministry of Business Affairs. 10 Innovation: The Way out of Trouble? Small businesses in Iceland are growing despite difficulties. 12 Behind the Thin White Line Seljalandsfoss in South Iceland is not a loud waterfall. But although its mellow tunes are unlikely to be included in any greatest hits list, they are definitely worthy of a listen. 13 Flying Out When phys ed teacher Hafthór Thórhallsson decided in early spring 2008 to open a small workshop in his tiny village of Hólmavík in Strandir he thought he was venturing into something light and easy. 14 New Perspectives from the Back of a Horse For centuries the Icelandic horse proved man’s loyal companion and his only mode of transport. Although cars replaced horses in that sense a long time ago, riding is still a celebrated form of traveling and one of the best ways to experience nature. 16 We Export Ideas About 300,000 people play EVE Online. 17 Mussels, the New Cod After years of developmental work, the mussel farm Nordurskel on Hrísey island, northeast Iceland, has finally launched full production and test exports. With Belgian mussel lovers craving more, the industry’s future looks bright. 18 Turn to Stone in Vík í Mýrdal Travel to Vík í Mýrdal, the southernmost village in Iceland, and feel petrified. You won’t literally turn to stone like the two trolls who tried to tow a ship to shore off the coast of Vík but were caught by daylight and turned to stone—now known as Reynisdrangar—but rather you will stop dead in your tracks out of astonishment for all the unique sights.

Trade Council of Iceland Borgartún 35, IS-105 Reykjavík. Tel +354 511 4000 Fax +354 511 4040 icetrade@icetrade.is www.icetrade.is

20 A Diary of Business and Politics The top stories in business and politics in Iceland from March to July 2009. 21 Providing Service All Over the World Loftleidir Icelandic is a global charter flight operator.

INVEST IN ICELAND AGENCY Borgartún 35, IS-105 Reykjavík. Tel +354 561 5200 Fax +354 511 4040 info@invest.is www.invest.is

Ministry for Foreign Affairs Rauðarárstígur 25, IS-150 Reykjavík. Tel +354 545 9900 Fax +354 562 4878 vur@utn.stjr.is www.mfa.is

22 Exporting the Sound of Iceland Although the “outvasion” of the Icelandic financial sector may have come to an abrupt halt last fall, the export of Icelandic music is as successful as ever. 23 Icelandic Design Uggi light from designers Fanney Antonsdóttir and Dögg Gudmundsdóttir.

I&I

3


I&I

On and Off

Music:

Iceland Places Second in Eurovision Song Contest

Photo: Morgunblaðið/Eggert

Iceland’s entry to the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, “Is It True?” by Óskar Páll Sveinsson, performed by Jóhanna Gudrún Jónsdóttir, placed second in Moscow on May 16, and the Eurovision team was given a hero’s welcome upon their arrival to Reykjavík the following day. Thousands of people gathered at Austurvöllur parliamentary square and cheered Jónsdóttir on while she performed “Is It True?” one more time. The performance was broadcast live on national broadcaster RÚV. Iceland had not been expected to get that far—the betting house Oddschenker, for example, predicted that “Is It True?” would end up in seventh place. Norway won a decisive victory in Moscow and Azerbaijan placed third. c

Success:

Export Award 2009 to Vaki In April 2009, Vaki received the President of Iceland’s Export Award for achievement in the exporting of Icelandic products and services to overseas markets. The presentation took place at a special ceremony at the presidential residence Bessastadir. Hermann Kristjánsson, Vaki’s CEO, accepted the award from the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. When selecting candidates for the award, particular attention is given to the value generated by the exports, the proportion of exports to total sales and the marketing of products to new areas. Entitled “Rapids and Waterfalls”, this year’s award was a fish made from Icelandic basalt by the artist Lísa K. Gudjónsdóttir, the fish symbolizing strength, agility and flexibility—qualities that can also be seen as characteristic of Vaki as a company. For over 20 years, Vaki has been a world leader in counting and measuring farmed fish, beginning with the Bioscanner Counter and continuing with the development of new ideas and technologies into a range of products supplied to more than 50 countries. Around 96 percent of Vaki’s turnover consists of export earnings, the main market areas being Norway, Scotland, Chile and Canada, as well as the Mediterranean countries. c

4

I&I


On and Off

I&I

Sports:

A New Icelandic Track and Field Star Is Born

Photo Morgunblaðið/hag

Rising track and field star Helga Margrét Thorsteinsdóttir, who is only 17, made her country proud at the track and field tournament in Kladno, Czech Republic, in late June, when she set a new Icelandic record in heptathlon with 5,878 points. She also held the former record in heptathlon, 5,721, which she set at the Nordic tournament in Kópavogur, Iceland, last week, mbl.is reported. In Kladno, Thorsteinsdóttir ran the 800meter race, the last event in the heptathlon, in 2:16.14, which is her personal best. Through her achievements at the tournament, Thorsteinsdóttir shot up from the second to the first seat on the list of the world’s best track and field teenage athletes in heptathlon, aged 19 and younger. c

Arts:

Awards for women’s choir Women’s choir Graduale Nobili won two awards in an international choir competition held in Wales in July. The choir won the silver prize in the category of chamber choirs and the bronze prize in the category of women’s choirs. It was a close call in the latter category, with only 1.3 points separating the first and the third place. The choir, which is under the direction of Jón Stefánsson, consists of 24 girls aged 17-26. It has already won many international prizes, for example two gold medals in an international meet in Finland. c

I&I

5


Politics – Not as Usual A Left-wing Government Wins Majority for the First Time.

6

I&I


Elections

T

he political climate has changed in Iceland. At the end of January the coalition of the Social Democratic Alliance and the Independence Party split, marking the end of 18 years of government for the latter. The Left-Green Movement joined forces with the Social Democrats to form a minority government with the support of the Progressive Party, which promised to defend the coalition against a motion of non-confidence. Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir became the first female prime minister in Iceland. The government decided to remove all three governors of the Central Bank from office, although it was clear that the target was primarily Davíd Oddsson, former Prime Minister and chairman of the Independence Party. Svein Harald Øygard, a Norwegian citizen, was appointed interim governor of the Central Bank, the first foreigner to hold the job. An election was called in April and as in the popular vote the two parties in the government won an outright majority, the first time two left-wing parties hold a majority in Althingi. The Election Results

The Social Democratic Alliance led by Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir gained two seats and ended with 20. The Left-Green Movement added five seats for a total of 14. This was the first time since 1929 that the rightwing Independence Party was not the biggest party in a national election. The Independence Party lost nine seats for a total of 16. The Progressive Party gained two seats and now has only nine seats in Althingi, still not up to the 12 seats it had after the 2003 election. Sigmundur Davíd Gunnlaugsson, party chairman, was elected to Althingi for the first time. The Civic Movement, a new grass roots party, got four members elected to Althingi. The Liberal Party, which among other things has been pushing for a stricter immigration law, lost all of its four seats in Althingi.

Photo: Páll Stefánsson

Formal application to join the EU

Many interpreted the election results as a victory for those who want Iceland to join the European Union. The Social Democrats, the Progressive Party and the Civic Movement had all stated that they were in favor of joining. On July 16 Althingi narrowly voted in favor of accession talks, a decision that reflected a

shift in public opinion that had been fiercely opposed to membership. Pro-EU lawmakers prevailed by 33 votes to 28 after nearly a week of heated debate over whether accession would help or hinder Iceland’s recovery. The vote was not along party lines, except that all 20 members of the Social Democrats said yes. Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir hailed the vote as a “historic decision” that was of crucial importance to the future of Iceland. On the very next day Foreign Minister Össur Skarphédinsson submitted a formal application to Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency. Anger over government agreement to reimburse British and Dutch savers

The vote on the EU coincided with a debate on a bill to ratify a deal with the UK and Netherlands to reimburse more than 300,000 savers who had deposits in the Icesave accounts run by Landsbanki, one of the three Icelandic banks that failed in October 2008. Iceland’s government is facing intense domestic pressure to renegotiate the deal or at least keep open the option of doing so, but Svein Harald Øygard, governor of the Central Bank, insisted it could be honored. “An economic analysis shows that this is something Iceland is fully capable of carrying, that a default will not happen and that policymakers have the necessary instruments in their hands to keep that from happening,” he said, while acknowledging it would be a “burdensome process”. The government has insisted that the Icesave issue is separate from the debate over EU membership, but many predict the UK and Netherlands would block Iceland from joining if it reneged on the deal. Diplomatic relations between the UK and Iceland have been strained since the meltdown, when the British government used anti-terrorist legislation to seize Icelandic assets. At press time it was not certain how the bill would fare in Althingi. However, there is no doubt that the general public is outraged that the obligations of a private bank could result in a public debt that might end up being between 25 and 50% of Iceland’s GNP. Most people feel that the deal is unfair and is forced upon a very weak nation. c

I&I

7


Politics

An Unusual Minister Gylfi Magnússon went directly from the University of Iceland to the Ministry of Business Affairs.

B

efore becoming Minister of Business Affairs, Gylfi Magnússon was fairly well known in Iceland as an associate professor at the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at the University of Iceland, and had been outspoken on various economic issues. In the fall of 2008 he calmly stated that Iceland’s three largest commercial banks were technically bankrupt and would not be able to fulfill their obligations. This statement made many bank directors furious. A week later Magnússon’s statement was proven right and the state had to take over all three banks. In the turmoil following the financial crisis, protest meetings were held every week on Austurvöllur, in front of Althingi, Iceland’s parliament. At one of those meetings Magnússon gave a speech stating that Iceland would have to sail out of troubled waters with a new crew. A week later the government collapsed and Gylfi Magnússon became one of two non-partisan ministers in the new cabinet. He was appointed Minister of Business Affairs while the other non-partisan minister, Ragna Árnadóttir, took over at the Ministry of Justice and Ecclesiastical Affairs. Magnússon has now served as minister since the beginning of February. When the coalition between the Left-Green Movement and the Social Democratic Alliance gained a majority in the elections in April, both Magnússon and Árnadóttir held on to their ministries.

terns, labor economics, micro- and macroeconomics, finance and game theory. He has also written two textbooks, one on introductory economics and one on portfolio theory. His Ph.D. dissertation was on migration in Iceland. The methodology was based on recent developments in explaining how individuals and companies make decisions that involve non-refundable investments in a changing environment. Yet even though he has a largely academic background he has done consulting work for several companies and institutions in Iceland, mainly on competition and antitrust matters, or finance. He has also served on the boards of several companies or institutions and when he took over as Minister of Business Affairs he was the chair of Iceland’s Competition Authority. Difficult decisions

To say that Gylfi Magnússon has taken office in difficult times would be an understatement. These are probably the most challenging times in recent history. Almost all financial institutions are in government care and the country has had to take big loans from both the International Monetary Fund and a number of other countries. On top of that, the Icesave problems (see p. 6-7) have been very difficult. Gylfi Magnússon has maintained that Iceland can meet the payment burden of the various loans and should build up its international reputation, which is seriously damaged after the collapse of the banks. He has taken a scholarly line and it is clear that he gets more respect for his views than most “traditional” politicians. Nobody knows how long the current cabinet will sit but most people seem to agree that Gylfi Magnússon has strengthened its lineup. c

An Unusual Background

8

I&I

Photo: Geir Ólafsson

Most cabinet ministers in Iceland have served in parliament for years by the time they take office. Magnússon and Árnadóttir are the only ministers in Iceland’s history who have been chosen solely on merit and not through political channels. In unusual times people look for unusual solutions. Magnússon was an undergraduate student at the University of Iceland and got his Ph.D. in economics from Yale University in 1997. He was employed by the University of Iceland from 1996, initially as a researcher at the Institute of Economic Studies, from 1996 until 1998. In 1998, he became an associate professor. In that capacity he served as the head of the Department of Business Administration (2000-2004) and as dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration (2004-2007). He has diverse research interests and has written on migration pat-


Politics

I&I

9


Economy

Innovation: The Way out of Trouble?

Small businesses in Iceland are growing despite difficulties.

I

nnovation is an ever-growing part of Icelandic business. In light of the country’s great economic difficulties it is natural to put the spotlight on small companies, now that many of the big companies in Iceland are experiencing difficulties. I&I asked Dr. Eythór Ívar Jónsson at Klak, an incubator center in Reykjavík, to explain the working conditions for innovators in Iceland. It may surprise some people to know that in Iceland, a country of 320,000 inhabitants, there were 52,994 enterprises in 2006, of which around half were limited liability companies. Approximately 99 percent of the enterprises are small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with less than 60 employees. Many of these companies are limited to only one employee. Entrepreneurial activity in Iceland is one of the highest in Europe. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), around 12 percent of people aged between 18–64 are active in entrepreneurship in Iceland. It was not until 1995 that support for SMEs became a policy issue. The importance of entrepreneurship policy has gradually

10

I&I

increased since. The three main institutions for supporting innovation and entrepreneurship (Rannís, NSA and NMI) have grown steadily over the last few years. Furthermore, there is political support for further developing initiatives to facilitate innovation and entrepreneurship. Programs for entrepreneurs

It has to be noted, however, that many of the programs and policies for supporting innovation and entrepreneurship have come from other initiatives. The Federation of Industries has played an important role in obtaining support for SMEs and growing companies. The University of Iceland and, most notably, Reykjavík University have promoted programs and research on entrepreneurship. Klak Innovation and Incubation Center established Seed Forum Iceland in 2004, a gathering place for entrepreneurs and investors. Klak has furthermore developed new education programs in entrepreneurship and is establishing the first business angel network in Iceland. A business angel is someone who comes in as an investor

in the early stages of a new company. Innovit, a student organization, runs the biggest business plan competition at the university level in Iceland. These organizations have furthermore all used their influence to lobby for innovation and entrepreneurship. It is hard to measure what the results are of policy efforts of government or other parties. According to the GEM, entrepreneurial activity has consistently been higher in Iceland than in the EU countries, around 12% in Iceland and less than 6% in the EU countries. Improved conditions

According to specialists, entrepreneurial conditions in Iceland have improved, although not very much (see table). Lack of government programs, research and development transfer, financial support and education and training for entrepreneurs is considered to be hindering entrepreneurial progress (below rate 3 on the scale from 1-5). This is, however, not very different from other Nordic countries, according to the GEM research.


Economy

Photo: Páll Stefánsson

Entrepreneurial Conditions in Iceland (compared to other Nordic countries in 2006) Other Nordic countries 2006

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Access to Physical Infrastructure

3.7

4.3

4.4

4.3

4.5

4.3

4.3

Cultural and Social Norms

3.7

3.7

3.7

3.9

4.0

4.0

2.6

Government Policies

3.1

3.2

3.3

3.3

3.6

3.5

2.9

Commercial and Professional Infrastructure

3.0

3.3

3.1

3.3

3.5

3.5

3.6

Market Openness/ Barriers to Entry

3.2

3.0

3.0

3.3

3.3

3.2

2.8

Government Programs

2.5

2.4

2.5

2.7

2.7

2.8

3.0

Research and Development Transfer

2.6

2.5

2.6

2.7

2.6

2.8

2.8

Financial Support

2.6

1.9

2.5

2.6

2.6

2.7

2.8

Education and Training

2.4

2.5

2.6

2.8

2.7

2.6

2.5

Source: GEM, Frumkvöðlastarfsemi á Ísland 2007 and Umfang og umhverfi frumkvöðlastarfsemi á Íslandi 2006.

The number of new registered companies roughly stayed the same between 2002 and 2007, or around 4,000. It is the same for limited liability companies and other legal forms of business. The turnover of Icelandic companies increased by 54 percent between 2003 and 2006 and the Icelandic stock market index grew five-fold between 2004 and 2007, indicating the boom that Iceland experienced in the last five years. That period was a time for big businesses in Iceland. At the same time small organizations have grown big, local companies have become international and some important success stories of entrepreneurs making it big have motivated others. In the years leading up to 2007 Icelandic business became known for its entrepreneurial spirit. Icelanders learned to think big, which is very important for growing organizations. Much of the growth was, however, achieved through cheap financing and mergers and acquisitions. Times have changed. The entrepreneurial spirit has, however, not changed and it is likely that new ventures creation will increase when there is less big business demand for human resources. Small is beautiful again. c

I&I 11


Travel

Behind the Thin White Line

I

f Iceland were a band and made a greatest hits album of its waterfalls as tracks, Dettifoss and Gullfoss, often dubbed the King and Queen of Iceland’s waterfalls, would definitely be included. The list of waterfalls in Iceland is long, including many mighty ones that would compete with each other for a spot on the hit list. Seljalandsfoss in south Iceland is neither large nor powerful. But despite being quieter than the rest, the waterfall’s mellow tunes are definitely worthy of a listen. Moreover, Seljalandsfoss is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. Arriving from the west, you can spot the thin white line of Seljalandsfoss from a distance. It is located just a stone’s throw away from the Ring Road, Iceland’s highway number one, between the villages of Hvolsvöllur and Skógar. Seljalandsfoss grows more impressive the closer you get. Gradually you register how the river Seljalandsá tumbles over a rocky edge at a height of 62 meters into a green pool. You can hear the waterfall as soon as you get out of the car. At first it sounds as if you have put the treble button on too much volume, but as soon as you reach the pool you notice how important the bass is to the overall harmony of Seljalandsfoss. The most exciting thing about Seljalandsfoss

12

I&I

is that you can walk behind it. It is an intense and wet experience walking on a narrow slippery trail behind the curtain of water. One should wear shoes with a good grip and a raincoat is also recommended. This is not a place for small children to play—as soon as you lose your concentration, you slip and fall. Once you’ve reached the cave-like balcony behind Seljalandsfoss, shielded from the water by pendent rocks, you’re faced with an amazing view. A flat plain opens up in front of you with the sea to the right and the remains of the former coastline of Mount Eyjafjöll to the far left. It is like having a V.I.P. seat at the opera, but only this time the performance hasn’t been rehearsed—it’s all natural. The immediate surroundings are adorned with a luminous green color due to constantly being sprayed with water from Seljalandsfoss. The wind plays with the millions of drops, changing the flow of the waterfall’s stream in all directions and whirling the moist air around. From the brink of the natural balcony, rainbows can be seen right above the pool, varying in size and intensity through the sunbeams. Nearby, another waterfall, Gljúfurárfoss, can be explored. It vanishes into a canyon and can only be fully enjoyed by wading into the stream and through a narrow crack

in the cliff. But while Gljúfurárfoss lies off the beaten path, Skógafoss is probably the best known waterfall in this region as it’s located on the Ring Road by Skógar. Legend has it that the first Norse settler in south Iceland, Thrasi Thórólfsson, buried a chest of gold in the cave behind Skógafoss—which has yet to be found. Skógafoss is the first in a row of smaller waterfalls along a popular 30-kilometer-long hiking route across Fimmvörduháls mountain pass— up to a height of 1,100 meters—to the green valley of Thórsmörk. Fans of waterfalls have plenty to explore in South Iceland, not to mention the rest of the country. They are incredibly diverse, ranging from shy and narrow streams that you might not even notice at first glance to thundering falls that are impossible to ignore. A greatest hits album would not do Iceland’s waterfalls justice—to really know them, one must listen to all of the lesser known compositions as well. c Jennifer Zoltek

If you’re not able to travel on your own to Seljalandsfoss, you can easily take the bus. The public busses on the Reykjavík-Höfn route stop at Seljalandsfoss parking lot, waiting for passengers from Thórsmörk. This gives you time to get out and take some photos. There is also a campsite for people who plan to stay longer in this region. bsi.is

Photos: left, Jennifer Zoltek. right, Páll Stefánsson

Seljalandsfoss in South Iceland is not a loud waterfall. But although its mellow tunes are unlikely to be included in any greatest hits list, they are definitely worthy of a listen.


Birdman

Flying Out When phys ed teacher Hafthór Thórhallsson decided in early spring 2008 to open a small workshop in his tiny village of Hólmavík in Strandir he thought he was venturing into something light and easy.

Photos: Páll Stefánsson

H

is business is carving small birds out of birch logs which he then paints and places on small pieces of driftwood that can be found all over the coastline in his district. The only problem was that demand instantly surpassed his production speed. It is both time consuming and complicated to finalize a delicate work of art like his birds. “My greatest fear last summer was that a busload of tourists would stop by and buy up my entire collection,” he says. “I sometimes woke up at night dreaming about it and perspiring heavily.”

His workshop is in the center of the village, by the charming harbor, in an old house that he shares with some local fishermen. “I like to have company and the smell of fish and nets is good,” he says. Everything in there is authentic: old tools, antique furniture and bearded Thórhallsson in his wooly Icelandic sweater. As his birds have literally been flying out he now refuses to sell them anywhere else but at his workshop in Hólmavík. “A Reykjavík man came in here last week and could not understand why I refused to sell my birds to him so he could offer them in his new souvenir shop.

But for me this is more about art than production,” he says. One would expect an artisan like Thórhallsson to be constantly on the lookout for birds and their behavior. He has a somehow different view. “I like birds when I see them. But I am not a fanatic, watching them all the time. How I carve them out is different. I make my own versions of them, they are my creation.” Next door to his workshop, Handverkshús Hafthórs in Hólmavík, is the Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft, which should not be missed. c Bjarni Brynjólfsson

I&I 13


Travel

New Perspectives from the Back of a Horse

M

ore than a decade ago I joined my family for a two-week horse journey from Akureyri to the Ásbyrgi canyon in northeast Iceland (where legend has it Ódinn’s horse Sleipnir stepped down from the heavens, resulting in the canyon’s hoof-like shape) and back. We rode through mountain passes and lush green valleys, past flowering forests and steaming geothermal areas, across rivers, through moss-covered lava fields and barren highland landscapes. We encountered all sorts of weather: it was sunny, windy, rainy—sometimes all at the same time—and it even snowed… in the middle of the summer! We carried clothing for all eventualities, lunch packs and thermoses with hot water and we spent the nights on isolated farms, in highland lodges and shepherds’ huts. We rarely encountered other people—despite traveling to a frequented tourist destination—and at times it seemed as if we were alone in the world. By now place names and impressions have 14

I&I

subsided into the depths of memory and blurred into an adventurous dream, but I still remember vividly the feeling of riding for days outside in nature. I remember how I had absolute faith that my horse would find the best path down a steep hillside without losing its footing. I remember bending over and hiding my face in the horse’s mane when we rode into a hailstorm. I remember the pure joy of sunshine, cheerful mountain springs, whistling birds, the sound of hoofs beating the soft ground, breathing in the fresh air and smelling the grass, heather and flowers. It felt as if man, horse and nature merged into one. The Icelandic Horse

The Icelandic horse is a unique breed. It was brought to Iceland by the settlers in the 9th century AD and has been isolated from other breeds ever since. It is built to withstand harsh Icelandic climate and nature, it is short and strong and acquires a thick

coat in winter. The breed is known for its equanimity, resilience and friendly character, its five different gaits—with the soft tölt unique among horses, and many colors—the Icelandic horse has more than 40 basic colors and 100 different shades. Through centuries the Icelandic horse has toiled on farms and proven man’s loyal companion as his only mode of transport. Today, while horses aren’t used for transport anymore, the sport of horsemanship is growing in popularity. The Icelandic Equestrian Association has almost 50 member associations, organizing trips for members and tournaments in all corners of the country. The hardy qualities of the Icelandic horse translated to export value in the early 20th century when horses were sent to the British Isles to work on farms and in mines. Half a century later foreigners also came to appreciate the breed’s riding qualities and the first Icelandic riding horse was exported in 1950. Their popularity grew steadily and today

Photo: Páll Stefánsson

For centuries the Icelandic horse proved man’s loyal companion and his only mode of transport. Although cars replaced horses in that sense a long time ago, riding is still a celebrated form of traveling and one of the best ways to experience nature.


Travel

Icelandic horses are bred in 19 countries, primarily in Western Europe and North America. Because of the popularity of the Icelandic horse in foreign countries, horse breeding and exporting has become a profitable industry in Iceland. Today, there are more than 100,000 Icelandic horses outside of Iceland—more than in Iceland itself. Iceland is home to approximately 80,000 horses, which, amazingly enough, equals one horse for every four residents. While riding Icelandic horses outside of Iceland is certainly an enjoyable experience in its own right, to understand the horses and where they came from they should be ridden in the landscape that shaped them. Horse Tours

Ride across the highlands on the historic north-south trail Kjölur between the glaciers Hofsjökull and Langjökull and feel how your sturdy little companion takes

you back to a time where there were no cell phones, no roads and no cars, and the horse was the only way to send messages. Or take a tour of Sprengisandur, the dreaded desert that inspired the famous folk song “Á Sprengisandi,” where the rider desperately tries to cross it before darkness falls so that he won’t become pray to outlaws, elves or other fearsome and supernatural beings. Better yet, ride through the rocky and hazardous path Skúlaskeid in Kaldidalur, the Cold Valley, between the glaciers of Langjökull and Ok. According to legend, a man named Skúli was sentenced to death at the Icelandic parliament in Thingvellir, Althingi, but escaped his executioners by racing his horse, Sörli, through the valley’s most difficult path. No one dared follow Skúli and so his horse saved him but paid with its own life. After saving its master, Sörli was so exhausted that it dropped down dead. Naturally, such extreme tours are not recommended for beginners (or at all if a horse’s

life is at stake) but there are also many shorter and easier tours to choose from. Íshestar, the leading horse tour operator in Iceland, offers a variety of trips in different parts of the country; a day tour to Gullfoss waterfall and Geysir hot spring area, a ride on the beaches of Snaefellsnes peninsula and a highland tour in the Mývatn area, for example. Íshestar’s goal is to “Introduce the traditional way of traveling in Iceland and support nature, culture and the economy,” as stated on the company’s website. Íshestar received the Environmental Award by the Icelandic Tourist Board in 2001 and is a Green Globe Affiliate. For more information go to ishestar.is. Riding tours are offered in every region of Iceland. For further information on horse travel companies (and other travel agents) near you, visit the website of the respective region: west.is, westfjords.is, northiceland.is, east.is and south.is. c Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir.

I&I 15


IT-company

We Export Ideas Iceland’s biggest exporter of software is a dream machine called CCP, creator of the online computer game EVE Online. The company has over 370 employees of which 220 work in Iceland. CCP has been growing for more than a decade and is now one of the biggest software companies in Iceland. Over 300 thousand players log into EVE Online’s virtual reality every week. The company’s CEO, Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, says that the company is generally doing well. “However, the current crisis is not helping us,” he says. “We have many growth opportunities in computer games, but we are not able to raise the necessary capital on the market under the current conditions.” The company had a turnover of USD 45 million in 2008, almost all of the money coming 16

I&I

from overseas. Hilmar is a strong supporter of Iceland joining the EU. “The most important step for Icelandic exports in information technology would be to join the European Union. Then we would finally be competing as equals with other international companies. We would be free from the special conditions that we have always had to suffer. The Icelandic krona and other special rules that apply to the Icelandic market are holding the export industry back, especially the IT companies. It is hopeless to try plan for the future because we never know how conditions will be in six months—condition that companies have no influence over. Our international competitors have solid currencies and more stability, and can therefore be rather sure about their near

future. Meanwhile we go up and down the rollercoaster with our eyes closed.” Hilmar has no doubt that the IT industry can be extremely valuable for the Icelandic nation if the cards are played right. “Let’s keep in mind that a company like CCP sells nothing but ideas. We use no other resources than the people of Iceland. Their human capital is what we export. We don’t need to buy any resources from abroad like the aluminum industry, nor are we capital intensive like the fisheries. The raw material is within our heads and we deliver a fully developed product. Therefore the added value of each worker in an IT-company is incredibly high and opportunity knocks on every door.” c

Photo: Geir Ólafsson

About 300,000 people play EVE Online.


Export

Mussels, the New Cod After years of developmental work, the mussel farm Nordurskel on Hrísey island, northeast Iceland, has finally launched full production and test exports. With Belgian mussel lovers craving more, the industry’s future looks bright.

Photo: Courtesy of Nordurskel

T

hey say that Icelanders don’t eat “strange fish” (read: everything that isn’t cod or haddock). Herring—now known as “the silver of the sea”—wasn’t harnessed in Iceland until the Norwegians, the largest herring fishing nation in Europe at the time, pointed its significance out to the locals in the early 1900s. To this date, fresh herring is a rarity in Iceland. And Icelanders didn’t discover the taste or value of lobster, those vicious-looking beasts, until the latter part of the 20th century. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that no one thought of giving mussel farming in Iceland a try until the turn of the millennium. Mussel farming company Nordurskel was founded in 2000 on Hrísey island, in the fjord Eyjafjördur, northeast Iceland, with the purpose of developing a profitable and eco-friendly mussel farming industry in Iceland. Last spring the company launched full production after years of developmental work. “It has been a long process, which was very difficult during the early years, but after the Canadians came and helped us we’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” Vídir Björnsson, managing director of Nordurskel and chairman of the Icelandic Mussel Farming Association, told national broadcaster RÚV in May. The Canadian he refers to is mussel farming pioneer Gary Rogers, whose company, E&G Rogers Mussel Farms, invested in Nordurskel in 2008, introducing them to mussel aquaculture techniques that have proven successful in Canada. “The quality of water available to you is similar to that of other large mussel producing areas, such as Newfoundland and New Zealand,” Rogers wrote in a report on the viability of mussel farming in Iceland in 2007.

“It is deep, clean, with adequate nutrient levels to produce a superior meat yield for a longer period of time. The natural mussel spat set is enormous, showing great potential to sustain a large mussel aquaculture industry, not just one grower.” Rogers also pointed out that, “Iceland is on the doorstep of Europe, one of the largest mussel markets in the world, which is not currently being adequately supplied.” The annual consumption of mussels in Europe is around 700,000 tons and demand is growing. Nordurskel’s goal is to produce 1,000 tons of mussels by 2010. The reactions to Nordurskel’s harvest in May were good. In Iceland, the mussels quickly disappeared from the shelves of the Nóatún supermarket chain in Reykjavík, and in Belgium, where blue mussel is the national dish, importers immediately requested more after the test delivery. Chairman of the Canadian Aquaculture Association, Cyr Couturier, is equally satisfied with Nordurskel’s products. “The Icelandic mussel is in my opinion one of the best ones that I’ve seen in a long, long time. It’s a very full meat and a very tasty mussel, so I think there are lots of opportunities for the industry to grow,” Couturier told RÚV in May. “It’s the greenest industry in terms of food production in the world, and there’s no reason why Iceland shouldn’t be a leader in mussel production. You have […] highly productive water and you just can’t beat it.” However, after the initial success, production was halted in Hrísey because of a common problem at mussel farms. Marine diatoms that produce ASP, PSP and DSP toxins drifted into Eyjafjördur. When accumulated in high concentrations by shellfish, the toxins can be

passed on to humans via consumption and prove dangerous. To prevent that from happening, mussel harvest is put on hold and the toxin levels in the meat are monitored closely. After a few weeks, once the diatoms have disappeared from the water around the mussels, the shellfish is safe for consumption again. Björnsson explains that this problem is likely to occur in north Iceland every summer. “That’s why we need more mussel farmers in Iceland. While we’re on hold in Eyjafjördur, harvesting could be going on in east Iceland, for example,” he says. Indeed, other companies are following suit. Mussel farming has already begun in a number of areas in the West Fjords and off Iceland’s western, northern and eastern coasts, with more farms set to launch operations later this year. The hope is that mussel farming can prove a valuable asset to the Icelandic fishing industry and create new jobs in fishing villages around the country. Meanwhile, Björnsson is excited about Nordurskel’s seventh annual Shellfish Festival, always held in Hrísey in the third weekend of July, at which time the number of the island’s 200 inhabitants multiplies. The program includes sightseeing tours on land and at sea, various activities for children, ocean swimming and wheelbarrow races, concerts and, of course, mussels: a mussel eating contest, mussel soup for all and various other mussel dishes. Basically, as many mussels as people can stomach. Judging by the popularity of Nordurskel’s products, Icelanders may be about to discover that there are more fish in the sea than cod and that mussels can prove an equally valuable export product. c Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir.

I&I 17


Travel

Turn to Stone in Vík í Mýrdal

T

he south of Iceland is incredibly diverse, ranging from steaming geothermal fields to roaring waterfalls, mystical lava fields to peaceful grassy lowlands, black sand beaches to shimmering white glaciers. The Ring Road (Iceland’s highway number one) leads you through the valley of Mýrdalur and winds up the high plain of Mount Reynisfjall. From there it’s downhill to the sleepy seaside village of Vík, the southernmost village in Iceland. Some of the houses are scattered around soft, green hillocks, others are located down by the black beach. The area boasts a mild climate, diverse bird life

18

I&I

and rich vegetation but it also has the greatest annual rainfall in Iceland. Its crown jewel is the distinctive basalt rocks Reynisdrangar, which rise out of the sea just off the coast. Upon entering the village, turn right at the first crossing if you want to reach the black beach offering a view of Reynisdrangar, without a detour. The street Víkurbraut just ends in a sandpit in the middle of a grassy field, making you feel like you’re trespassing on private property. But faced with the temptation of the beach it’s easy to shake that feeling. Be careful, though. The sea in this area

is particularly wild and stormy and there are no natural harbors in the whole region. Therefore it is not surprising to find a memorial stone down by the shore, erected in the memory of German fishermen who lost their lives there over the years, and those who survived, thanks to quick-handling locals. Another word of warning: The black sand can be really hot if you walk barefoot. For that reason, it might prove tempting to cool your feet once you reach the ocean—but if you do, you definitely won’t be tempted to go any further. However, all thoughts of scorching hot and freezing cold disappear as

Photos this spread: Jennifer Zoltek.

Travel to Vík í Mýrdal, the southernmost village in Iceland, and become petrified. You won’t literally turn to stone like the two trolls who tried to tow a ship to shore off the coast of Vík but were caught by daylight and turned to stone—now known as Reynisdrangar—but rather you will stop dead in your tracks out of astonishment for all the unique sights.


Travel

Reykjavík

Vík

soon as you register the view from the beach. Prepare to feel steinrunninn—petrified with astonishment. You can now fully appreciate Reynisdrangar, along with other basalt rock formations: Skessudrangur, Langhamar and Landdrangur. According to a folk tale, these black basalt needles are the remains of two trolls who tried to tow a ship to land, but were caught by daylight and turned to stone. Apparently this happens to tourists too—metaphorically speaking, at least. There are good conditions for bird watching in the area. The valley of Mýrdalur, for example, is home to one of the largest breeding areas of the arctic tern in Europe. Here, an attentive observer of nature has much to explore. Hiking trails lead up to Mount Reynisfjall at a height of 350 meters, rewarding each mountaineer with a spectacular view, weather permitting, of course. As already mentioned: Vík sees a lot of rain. If you’re keen on taking a closer look at Reynisdrangar, carry on to the hamlet of

Reynishverfi, either by car—taking the route 215—or a longer walk to the other side of Reynisfjall. The road ends at Gardar, the southernmost farm in Iceland. The nearby farm Reynir dates back to the settlement in 874 AD. The farm, beach, mountain, and everything else that starts with Reyni in the area is named after the region’s first settler, Reyni-Björn from Norway. The local information board says that the first church in the region is mentioned in the ecclesiastical register of 1200. The church, which, according to a folk tale was built by an elf, was moved further south in the 19th century. The relegated cemetery still keeps the mortal remains of physician and naturalist Sveinn Pálsson who was buried there in 1840 and was renowned for his studies of Icelandic glaciers. Stroll down Reynisfjara, the beach, and it will lead you to the Dyrhólaey sea cliff, which has a hole in it, and the famous cave Hálsanefshellir. The cave is decorated outside and inside with columnar basalt, which looks

like a church organ. Standing inside the cave, your head bent backwards, your brain will be busy trying to sort out how nature came up with this bizarre formation. The local tourist information for Vík is housed in a historic building covered in blue tin cladding called Brydebúd, which was originally brought from the Westman Islands in 1895. The café Halldórskaffi is located in the same house, where visitors are invited to enjoy the view of the mountains and the colorful houses of Vík outside on the porch along with their cup of coffee. Vík’s history and culture is exhibited in Brydebúd as well, so this would definitely be a good spot to end your journey, relax and process all you’ve experienced. south.is. c Jennifer Zoltek.

It is easily possible to drive the 186 kilometers from Reykjavík to Vík and back in one day with plenty of time to stop en route to enjoy the different sights of the South. south.is.

I&I 19


A Diary March 9: The investment bank StraumurBurdarás’s operations were taken over by the Icelandic state. The bank’s CEO William Fall resigned immediately. March 11: The representatives of Icelandic investment company Baugur Group requested it to be taken into bankruptcy proceedings after losing their case for an extended moratorium on its payments at the Reykjavík District Court. March 22: The Icelandic Financial Supervisory Authority took over the boards of the savings banks SPRON and Sparisjódsbankinn (formerly Icebank). Neither of the two banks had fulfilled legal demands for maintaining a minimum equity ratio since October 2008. April 25: The coalition parties of the interim government set in January, the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left-Green Movement, won a majority in parliament—34 out of 63 seats— allowing them to remain in power. Never before in Iceland’s political history has a left-wing government earned a majority of seats in parliament. May 4: Finnish mobile phone giant Nokia is planning to market an Iceland-designed guitar tuner worldwide, it was reported on this day. It is called Tunerific and is a software solution that enables users to tune their guitars through their mobile phones. May 17: The resolution committee of the failed Kaupthing Bank filed a GBP 180 million (USD 274 million, EUR 203 million) lawsuit against the trust of British investor Robert Tchenguiz in his home country for preventing Kaupthing from seizing control of his proceeds from the sale of Somerfield, it was reported on this day. May 18: Two companies, Aker Exploration and Sagex Petroleum, applied for special licenses for research and production of hydrocarbon in the Dragon Zone off Iceland’s northeastern shore, it was announced on this day. At least three years will pass before oil drilling can begin. May 25: The resolution committee of Landsbanki Bank acquired the almost 24 percent stake that Langflug held in Icelandair Group, it was announced on this day. The shares were collateral for loans that were granted to Langflug to purchase stock in Icelandair Group. With this move, three state-run banks, Landsbanki, Íslandsbanki and Sparisjódsbankinn, hold a combined 80 percent share in Icelandair. May 26: The whaling season began, lasting for six months from this date. A quota was issued for 100 minke and 150 fin whales this season with the goal to export the meat from 50 of the minke and all of the fin whales to Japan. 20

I&I

of Business and Politics May 28: Foreign Minister Össur Skarphédinsson submitted a parliamentary resolution on behalf of the government to the Althingi parliament, proposing that Iceland launch membership talks with the European Union. While the plan was to formally submit the application to the EU on July 27, the resolution is still being debated in parliament at press time. May 29: A bill on increased tariffs on alcoholic beverages, tobacco, gasoline and oil was passed in Iceland’s Althingi parliament. The price of alcohol and tobacco will increase by 15 percent, the price of gas by ISK 10 (USD 0.08, EUR 0.06) per liter and of oil by ISK 5. The government is also planning to raise the automobile tax by ten percent. June 5: The Icelandic government signed an agreement with the UK and the Netherlands on Iceland’s obligations towards the depositors in those countries who lost their savings with the collapse of the Icelandic bank Landsbanki, and its online savings unit Icesave. Iceland will be granted a USD 5.44 billion (EUR 3.88 billion) loan from the UK and the Netherlands to repay the Icesave depositors. The agreement was still being debated in parliament at press time. June 12: Minister of Finance Steingrímur J. Sigfússon and Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir announced that funding to the office of the special prosecutor investigating the collapse of the banking system will be increased, following the recommendations of Norwegian-French magistrate Eva Joly, advisor to the office of the special prosecutor. June 14: The Nordic countries will focus more intently on eco-friendly solutions and become a role model for others by limiting the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, as stated in a joint declaration by the Nordic prime ministers in Egilsstadir, Iceland, on this day.

June 24: It was reported that 22 percent of all foreign citizens on the Icelandic labor market are currently without a job, a significantly higher percentage than among Icelandic nationals, which is around eight percent, a slight drop from the previous month. June 25: The Icelandic Confederation of Labor, the Confederation of Icelandic Employers, the government and local authorities signed a stability pact for Iceland following intensive negotiations. Among other items, it assumes that the reorganization of the banking system be completed by November 1 this year, that currency restrictions be abolished and that the policy rate be lowered. July 1: The Nordic countries signed a longterm loan agreement with the Central Bank of Iceland, agreeing to lend to EUR 1.8 billion (USD 2.5 billion) to Iceland as part of the economic stabilization program agreed by the Icelandic government and the International Monetary Fund. July 1: The government will increase taxes this month to narrow the national budget deficit and increase savings. A supertax will be introduced for everyone earning more than ISK 700,000 (USD 5,500, EUR 3,900) per month. July 7: The office of the special prosecutor conducted ten raids in relation to an investigation of the Icelandic insurance company Sjóvá, due to alleged violations concerning the operations of insurance companies and limited companies. July 7: Father and son tycoons Björgólfur Gudmundsson and Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson requested that Kaupthing bank write off ISK 3 billion of their ISK 6 billion (USD 47 million, EUR 34 million) loan at the bank, which was originally made to their holding company Samson to finance a 45.8 percent share in Landsbanki when it was privatized by the state in 2003. Kaupthing has yet to decide whether or not to agree to the request.

June 15: The restrictions on Landsbanki in the UK, established through anti-terrorist legislation after the collapse of the Icelandic banking system in October 2008, was lifted following the agreement on the bank’s online unit Icesave, signed by Icelandic, British and Dutch authorities on June 5.

July 16: The majority of MPs in the Icelandic parliament, Althingi, voted in favor of the government’s parliamentary resolution on launching membership talks with the European Union. Thirty-three voted for, 28 against and two abstained. The Icelandic government will formally submit Iceland’s application for membership to the European Union in Brussels on July 27.

June 23: Reykjavík District Court rejected on this day a petition from Hannes Smárason, former CEO of investment company FL Group, that a search of two of his homes and LOGOS law firm on June 3 be deemed illegal. Smárason is suspected of extensive fraud.

July 20: The number of foreign tourists is approximately the same as last year in spite of the international recession. Hotels in many parts of the country are full to capacity. c Eygló Svala Arnardóttir


Business

Photo: Páll Stefánsson

Providing Service All Over the World

Loftleidir Icelandic is a global charter flight operator.

F

or many of the older generation, the name Loftleidir Icelandic kindles fond memories of cheap transatlantic flights in the 1960s and 70s. In the days of monopolistic prices set by stringent international regulations Loftleidir provided a cheap alternative, making it the natural choice for young people who wanted to cross the Atlantic. It has been decades since Loftleidir was merged with Icelandair, Iceland’s biggest airline. However, many were happy to see the Loftleidir Icelandic name resurface in 2002 as a subsidiary of Icelandair Group to provide services and solutions to passenger airlines and tour operators on a global scale. By re-entering the international charter operations that had been a part of Icelandair’s operations for decades, the group was able to better utilize its resources.

The company has developed from focusing mainly on the sales and marketing of Icelandair’s winter surplus capacity and then offering charter solutions by adjusting to each client’s specific requirements. The company now offers a greater variety of services and products than before. In 2006-2007 the company bought all the shares in the Latvian charter operator Latcharter Airlines as part of Loftleidir Icelandic’s strategy to strengthen its position in the Baltic and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region and add the Airbus family into its worldwide product line. The company currently operates and manages contracts in Europe, Africa, North and South America and has successfully entered new markets in the South Pacific and the CIS, making its operations truly global.

Loftleidir Icelandic has six Boeing 757-200 and four Boeing 767-300ER aircraft. Its subsidiary, Latcharter Airlines, has expanded its fleet from two Airbus 320 aircraft in early 2006 to seven Airbus 320s and two Boeing 767-300s in 2007. Gudni Hreinson is managing director of Loftleidir Icelandic. He is optimistic about the future: “Loftleidir Icelandic will continue to secure continued growth in both revenue and profitability by further utilizing its extensive sales and marketing network and know-how, and benefiting from its continually growing brand recognition within the market. The company is perceived as being a strong partner, offering flexibility, innovation, reliability and experience.” c 21 I&I 21 I&I


Music

Exporting the Sound of Iceland

Photo: Páll Stefánsson

Although the “outvasion” of the Icelandic financial sector may have come to an abrupt halt last fall, the export of Icelandic music is as successful as ever.

I

celand’s new ambassadors are not wearing pinstriped suits or carrying briefcases. They’re a versatile group of young men and women wearing colorful attire, armed with instruments and microphones, reaching out to the world through song. They have two things in common: their love for music and their national identity. They proudly represent Iceland because cultural creativity is not suffering a crisis—the Icelandic sound is more popular than ever. This cultural “outvasion” is enabled through the hard work of Iceland Music Export (IMX), a marketing office set up two years ago to encourage the export of Icelandic music and promote Icelandic musicians abroad. Glowing with passion and optimism, IMX’s leading lady, managing director Anna Hildur Hildibrandsdóttir, explains how music is the remedy for depression. “It’s already leading us out of the crisis. Music is always deeply connected with emotions. The qualities of Iceland have always been associated with great, successful artists like Björk and Sigur Rós, and their music. Now, when we’re getting back to our roots and redefining our future, I think we will discover our strengths. And one of our big strengths is definitely music,” Hildibrandsdóttir says. In July 2009 a new chapter was written in Iceland’s musical history when Emilíana Torrini’s “Jungle Drum” topped the charts in Germany— the first time that an Icelandic song was rated the most popular song in a country other than

22

I&I

Iceland. On the other side of the Atlantic the song was used in the debut episode of the 5th season of the popular US medical drama series Grey’s Anatomy, where Meredith and Christina were fighting, ending with Christina being impaled by an icicle—making the scene all the more intense. Germany and the United States are two of the places that IMX is currently focusing on. While more established Icelandic acts such as Emilíana Torrini, múm and GusGus already have a stronghold in Germany, the American market is notoriously difficult to enter. But anything is possible. In April, IMX hosted a promotional party in Los Angeles. “Jónsi from Sigur Rós was sort of a patron of the project, which attracted a lot of good contacts,” Hildibrandsdóttir says, referring to people who buy music for commercials, films and television series. Television is one of the ways through which to enter the US market, she explained, and IMX has seen some direct results from it: Lay Low’s songs will also be featured in Grey’s Anatomy, for example. In Germany, IMX took a different approach, establishing the Icelandic music project Nordrid there in February, in cooperation with Iceland Express and the Admirals Palast theater in Berlin, which organizes monthly tours of Icelandic musicians in the country. “We’ve probably had almost 100 mentions in the German media on the project and the eight acts that have partici-

pated in Nordrid. We get a lot of requests from the German media and there seems to be a very positive environment for Icelandic music in Germany,” Hildibrandsdóttir says. When asked which bands are the most popular in foreign markets at the moment, Hildibrandsdóttir is not sure how to reply. “I can just say that there’s never a lack of talent from Iceland and there are a lot of requests. Of the newest generation of bands that are touring outside of Iceland there have been a lot of requests for Lay Low, Seabear, Hjaltalín, Ólafur Arnalds, Ólöf Arnalds, For a Minor Reflection, Dísa and many, many more.” But what is it that makes all these different musicians from Iceland so popular? “Because of the small size of the society there is a lot of space and a lot of contrasts that get interpreted in the music and it doesn’t really matter from which genre of music they are, be it classical or metal, the extreme individualism is a commonality,” Hildibrandsdóttir explains. “Being from Iceland creates some kind of mystery and curiosity, which helps. But the quality of the music counts the most. Icelandic music competes with the best acts in the world on its own merit.” So keep your ears open for that Icelandic sound because the country’s talented musical ambassadors are certainly not about to be silenced. imx.is c Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir.


Icelandic Design Uggi light from designers Fanney Antonsdóttir and Dögg Gudmundsdóttir. Switch on the Cod Designers Fanney Antonsdóttir and Dögg Gudmundsdóttir channeled their homesickness to give a new life to the national f ish snack. Uggi (f ish f in) lights take inspiration from the Icelandic penchant for drying whole f ish. Traditionally the f ish were hung outdoors and the drying left to the arctic winds, a method that has remained unchanged since the settlement period. The process to produce the lamp is somewhat more hands-on—skinned, shaped and sewn together, it is then dried on a metal net before f inally being equipped with its lighting rig. The meat is still eaten, so nothing goes to waste.

Uggi light, EUR 670. Available at Kraum and directly from designers at uggi-lights.com.

I&I 23


Photo: Pรกll Stefรกnsson

. Trade Council of Iceland . www.icetrade.is . invest in iceland agency . www.invest.is . Ministry for Foreign Affairs . www.mfa.is 24

I&I


Issues and Images of Iceland