Craft

Bogi Jónsson

On a musky day we drove to Garður, the town we had never been to while travelling the Reykjanes peninsula. Bogi Jónsson and his wife Narumon Sawangjaitham (Nok) greeted us with welcoming gestures. Me and Bogi sat down with hot coffee and cookies to discuss the seaweed spa, Peace- garden, their lives together, and how they ended up with the hot tub spa in this windy and exotic place.

What is this concept about and how did you get this seaweed spa idea in the first place?

Actually, this was an accident in the beginning. I had a hot sea tub in my old place, in Álftanes where I started out with the thai- spa. I managed to set up the hot tub on the roof with heated sea in it.

“They day after I thought to myself, why is my hair and skin so soft, did I go overboard with the conditioner?!”

Anyways, then I wanted to surprise my wife with something extra special, went to the coast and got a lot of seaweed to add to our spa experience, for making it a little mystical for her. They day after I thought to myself, why is my hair and skin so soft, did I go overboard with the conditioner?! My wife felt the same, so we figured out that it must have had something to do with the seaweed.

This drove me to try this again, and I found this to be the case, my skin was soft as a baby´s bottom. Then I got online and did some research, and found out that this is an old tradition in Ireland and some other places too.

My father spent most of his life examining marine animals, and he always talked about his hands getting very soft after he had been all in the seaweed, looking for interesting things. So my thai-spa in Álftanes turned in to the hot seaweed spa, and then the adventure started. Today I´m still trying out different kinds of seaweed and so on, and this has also to do with seasonal magnitude of seaweed in the nature.

“We think about seaweed as something unpleasant, but when you are in the tub it is just lovely, you just want to hug the seaweed and rub it all over your body”

What is you relations to the seaweed?

Well, I was born and raised by the costal line and had many around me that were doing research on the coast. Actually, my plan is to evolve my usage of seaweed through experience and information seeking. I´ve tried this both on psoriasis and cellulite skin, and we mark that this spa is having good effects, but I don’t want to give out statements before I have had more experience with this. Ill have to change the seaweed every day, to offer the same effect. I use seaweed and fresh kelp in the hot tub, sometimes I use kelp flour to have the flora in the spa just right.

Sometimes we think about seaweed as something unpleasant, but when you are in the tub it is just lovely, you just want to hug the seaweed and rub it all over your body. We just want people to try it because we think this spa has so many good elements, without talking like a cheesy salesman.

 Hah, that’s a good vision you have. Tell me, what is this gel in the seaweed?

At first I thought this was some kind of a frost protection, but it actually is a seasonal thing, so there is less of this soft gel in the seaweed during the winter.

The seaweed has a lot of iron, d-vitamin and b12 and this is exactly what we need in the north where we live sunless lives. I´ve been reading a lot about the seaweed, and this is a magnificent plant actually. There is no other plant for example that has as much iodine as the seaweed plant has.

Well, I will have to ask you, how do you feel about being placed just beside the blue lagoon, do you see them as a competition?

Well, my business is small and I want to offer a very homey feeling to our visitors. We want our message to be “Welcome to our home and to our seaweed bath”. Then it will be a personal experience, to have a bath at our place, and that is quite different in comparison to the blue lagoon.

I think I am more into this hippie style of bathing in nature, but I do not dislike the lagoon in any ways. But the focus point is the expensive set around the lagoon, but that suits many guests that come here. I think its just two totally different things in itself.

What about bathing in nature, do you like to do that?

I have a lot of interest in bathing in nature, Its all about your personal experience and how you feel about things. We are always being controlled in our travels nowadays. And you are “supposed to” experience and feel this and that, that is a box that I don’t like.

But on the other hand, there are many tourists that want to be controlled, and have no interests in taking changes. That’s valid, and has to be on offer actually. Most tourists want to do something that is knowned and see sights that are advertised for the masses. Some travellers know beforehand what they are going to do, but that is not my style when I travel. I love surprises!

So to turn to your business, do many know about your seaweed spa, is there a traffic?

Well, not exactly. The traffic goes up in the summer time though. I have been very quiet, and our advertisement has been low- key. There is this word of mouth element, I think that is a more honest way of building up a good business.

” I have always been a fan of the concept “enjoying the moment” “

Well we have customers that drive a long way, especially to come and bathe here in our seaweed spa. There is a guy from the North, he has skin eczema between his fingers, and he tells me that it disappears when he´s done bathing in our spa.

So what, you think of yourself as a hippie?

Well, I have always been a fan of the concept “enjoying the moment”, what life has to offer. We don’t have to have everything new and fancy around us, to score higher than our peers, or something like that.

For example, if you look at our kitchen interior, I bought it online from someone that was going to throw it away. I think things have more charisma if you multi- use things. Also, in my opinion, there is this culture of throw-away that I don’t like. You are not respecting the materials, you are not respecting the nature and you are not respecting the blood sweat and tears that went into making of things if you just throw them away constantly.

But as for the hippie concept, well I like to stir things up. If people get shocked or are in any way surprised, it simply tells me that they have taken a minute to look outside the box, and that’s a good thing.

Wow, that’s a great family portrait that you have on your wall! When did you and Nok meet, and how did it all happen?

Well, I was not looking for a wife actually when we met. Back in 1984 I decided to go sober in life, and started to think about what life is all about. I really wanted to experience other cultures and travel at this point in my life. There were two things that dragged me to Thailand originally. I wanted to see the joy those people have in their hearts, despite they live in some sort of poverty as it is defined and I wanted to meet girls but I had been shy in my life so I thought this would be fun.

“They are used to this, they know that I´m not “a usual” guy anyways, they are not surprised about anything anymore”

Then I met Nok, and fell in love. I came back to see her a couple of times, and then we took one year a part to test if this was really something, if this was real love. We couldn’t evolve our relationship in Iceland without marriage, so we got married and we are happy to this day. Nok had two boys before I met her, but we have one son together also. The family portrait is of us all.

What do the boys think about your business, your adventure having this seaweed bathing spa?

They are used to this, they know that I´m not “a usual” guy anyways, they are not surprised about anything anymore.

I´m looking out the window, what is that I see in your big garden, this strange metallic object? Is this the Peace- globe I´ve heard about?

Well, I´ve been studying my faith a lot. When I joined others in relations of being sober, I thought to myself “ugh, that’s a hassle”, when they told me that faith had something to do with this life without alcohol.

When I started to look into various faiths, I realized that it was all the same thing, for me at least. This metal object represents peace, because I believe that all humans on earth are living in the same bubble, and we are all the same at the end of the day.

The only thing we need, so we can have peace in the world, is that people take responsibility of one self by being peaceful. Then we can be peaceful and we don’t have to judge others if we think about it, really. You can write peaceful notes and place inside the Peace- globe, that’s a ritual that I really like, asking the greater force to give us peace. God for me is some kind of a life force, this energy that binds us together is the force, and we have influences on each other.

 Do you read those notes people put in there?

 No I don’t have the desire to do so.

So how do you like it in this town, is it strange for you?

Well, to be honest, I haven’t landed here quite yet in my mind actually. I´m loosing my other place in Álftanes so that has been taking a lot of our time. I´m very proud of what I did over there.

But this place, well, I haven’t been living in this small and quiet town before in my life. The energy is good, its more personal and the people are united. Last year we had many artist staying here making art, as we will again this summer. We have movie screenings, a man that made a documentary and invited the whole town to come and see it and so forth.

“Ideas are floating all around us, you just have to reach up and grab one”

How are they accepting you guys, into their community?

They are very polite. But many must scratch their heads and think, what is this spa about? But I´m not shy of being different.

Lastly, are you afraid of others stealing your idea of this seaweed bath?

Not at all. I think that ideas are floating all around us, you just have to reach up and grab one for yourself. If somebody would copy my idea, I would think to myself “Well my idea is good, I really like that somebody else is doing this too, can I help?”

What does the future hold for you guys?

We are here, and we will also be offering home made dinners soon in our other house. Maybe we will have a little hotel here somewhere along the way. The future is hope, goodness and seaweed bath! Now I see Nok has made us thai- dinner. Do you have any more questions? No, thank you very much, umm this looks amazing!


We drive away from Bogi´s and Nok´s place with warmth in our hearts and belly´s,
and when I look in the review mirror I can see Bogi standing on the steps,
still waving goodbye. His eyes are engraved in my memory, honest and lively.

icelandseaweedspa.com
facebook.com/seaweedbath

Interview: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photographs: Nanna Dís

Rán

On a rainy day I met with a young red- haired lady, that runs Feima hairsalon
downtown Reykjavík. She has been doing so since she was 21 years old.
She has been figuring out how to run a business for almost a decade, how
to make it on her own. She is quiet and low- key in her manners but very
strong-minded about certain things, like the environment, style, happiness and hair.

Hello! Do you have an organic banana to go with my haircut? No, just kidding. So if I get it right, you are trying to be as green and organic as possible?

Everything we offer is organic for example organic coffee, tea, fruit and you name it for the customer. We buy fruits and vegetable from the green market and Yggdrasill, they are all organic. This concept, to run this green hair salon, is about preventing allergy and also to protect the environment.

We have been lucky enough to have a couple of different waste containers just outside the salon. Feima- hair salon emphasizes on being very conscious about waste and throw-aways of their material that is being used. You can call it my passion in my field of running this salon.

“I have always been against this

over- chemical world that we live in”

So, are you the only one that is running a green- salon in Iceland?

I really don´t know if there are other hair- salons in Iceland or if this is the only one, but I can assure you that if I would run the world, all hair salons would be green. There is no way to get this kind of certification here in Iceland and that has to change. I have always been against this over- chemical world that we live in. For example, I buy everything organic for my household and such.

How has going green affected you and your clients?

These products have been working well for people that have allergies, and especially for pregnant women, because their immune systems are sensitive and they are more likely to get stronger allergic reactions. Many clients feel less of a burning sensation in the scalp after colouring their hair.

When I think about it I often had headaches and I always thought it was because of my sour muscles. But when we changed the products that we use in the salon, they went away. These products are also much better for the skin. The purpose is to make the salon more healthier for the people that come here and do business with us.

Those who have allergies are better off working with these materials also, for example hairdressers that can´t work with chemical materials, but can employ themselves in green- salons.

So if you are a woman in the hair-profession, you could still work while pregnant?

If you are working in salon that is green or organic, you should be able to. Also as I mentioned earlier, if you look at the bigger picture this evolves around awareness about the world biosphere and so on.

I´ve been shown Danish studies that hairdressers, farmers and gardeners are more prominent to give birth to children with defects, for example on their genitals, and allergies. That is interesting, I must read these Danish sources then! We should all think about these things.

What does this Swan- certified logo mean?

It is the official Nordic eco-label. They have strict requirements to minimize environmental impacts and to ensure that the product is better for the environment and people´s health, without sacrificing quality.

It has also to do with the nutrient in products and to minimize the usage of hazardous substances. The main components that people are familiar with are parabens, which is a hormone disruptive chemical. Swan- certified products are free of parabens, silicone, sensitizing fragrance, hormone disturbing chemicals and known carcinogens.

“I think about trends in hair, my ultimate vision is to make the field of hair more health- orientated”

What products do you use in the salon?

I use Zenz Organic Hair Products and John Masters Organics, and the colours I use are called Elumen and logos. Some of the John Masters products have the USDA organic- certification and the Zenz products have the Swan- certification.

So, to turn to something else, how do you like to run this salon in this street, Óðinsgata?

I like to be here, in the heart of the down-town area. There are many hotels here, so that our clients are very various: travellers from all over the world, exchange-students from the University that live close by and people from this neighbourhood in a blend with our old customers. This neighbourhood is lively and our neighbours are friendly. The atmosphere is a little bit like a small-town feeling, I like it a lot. I think about trends in hair of course, but my ultimate vision is to make the field of hair more health- orientated, both for us that work in the field and for the customers of our services.

Well I almost forgot, how has it been running a salon for so long, you were so young when you started?

I was jumping in the deep-end of the pool when I started out in this business, I was young and had no experience of running a company. I am very glad that I did it, I have learned so much over this almost a decade. This experience has made me a stronger person that has strengthen me as a manager and the owner of the salon. My family has also always been very supportive, and always willing to offer a helping hand.

What is your passion in hair, what is your vision?

I think about trends in hair of course, but my ultimate vision is to make the field of hair more health- orientated, both for us that work in the field and for the customers of our services. It has also a huge say for the environment, imagine all the chemicals that are left in our nature systems by the industry!

 ”I think fashion and this green lifestyle should go hand in hand”

Fashion and innovation have always been a strong elements for me and Feima- salon. Well that’s given, if you don’t give attention to what is new and happening, you will be left behind in this field of work. I´m influenced by arts, fashion and trends. My favourite eras in hair, that always influence me in one way or another, are Charleston quotations, the rockabilly element and other things. I like to blend those references together with modern influences.

But all in all I think fashion and this green lifestyle should go hand in hand. Some think that it´s not hip enough or something, but it should be our number one fashion element today!

Point taken! 

Now, what about talking to the client, when in the chair. Can that be difficult in some way?

Well, that’s a good question. The hairdresser should be able to talk about whatever comes up at the time. Of course I have my own opinions, but at the same time I have to respect that the client has a totally different view on things. You have to listen to people a lot and be in the psychologist role in that sense. It’s a part of the profession. Some clients I have known for a long time, so we get very personal at times.

On the other hand, my clients get the lecture now and then from me, about this health and organic and green matters.

What about you, are you a healthy person? I heard you where straight-edge?

Well, I don’t drink and I am healthy in my lifestyle I guess. But I can tell you that I listen to death metal. But I don’t play that kind of music in the salon though.

“when everybody is out, and I´m cleaning up at night, the radio-station goes off and my metal goes on!”

This straight- edge concept, well I don’t think about it as a label. But when everybody is out, and I´m cleaning up at night, the radio-station goes off and my metal goes on in the salon! I really like that young kids are into this lifestyle though, and I thought of it as a brand myself when I was younger. Maybe I´m not the stereotype for the hardcore metal listener anyways!

What kind of music do you play then, at the salon?

I try to play mild music, but it has to be something that I personally like. Nick Cave is a good example, I mean, who doesn’t like him?

I have to ask you this. You are a red- head. Are there many red- heads in Iceland?

In my knowledge, there are unusually many, compared to other places. Maybe this has to do with our celtic/irish genes? I think stereotyping of red-haired people is very wrong particularly in the context of bullying, this hair-colour is and should be desirable, if something else. I think your red- hair is very noticeable and beautiful. Well, thank you! I think this red-hair war has diminished and this has become more sought after. There are many myths about natural red hair and I kinda like those.

I thanked Rán for the tour of her little salon while zipping up my coat. I end the day by walking Óðinsgata street to its end, with a passion inspired mind, thinking about chemicals, hair and the young Viking woman that walked the street proudly in her awareness- battle in the hair industry.

Feima
Óðinsgötu 7
101 Reykjavík

facebook.com/feima.harstofa
facebook.com/ZenzOrganicProductsIslandi
zenzorganic.com

Interview: Ása Baldursdóttir
Photographs: Nanna Dís

Stefán Jörgen

I am in a dark castle cellar. The only thing lighting up my surroundings is the candle in the candlestick I hold in my hand. The candle light casts long shadows from the columns all around me, painting the walls with dancing figueres that I mistook for a moment as something moving in the distant. There is a strange sound, like something just fell on there floor. “Hello, is there anyone here?“ I ask. There´s no reply. I seem to be all alone down here. Suddenly a swift wind blows out my candle light. All goes black, I can´t see a thing. There is another sound, like something is moving in the dark. In my panic I drop the candlestick as I desperately search for my matches. I finally find them and light a match only to reveal the Frankenstein monster standing right next to me. I let out a scream of terror as the monster tackles me. All goes black again, but judging from the monster´s grunts, my characters role in this film is probably over.

I´m sorry for the cheese intro, but I thought it would be appropriate, this time we visit a man who is largely responsible for the success of film scenes similar to the hypothetical monster attack above. If filmmakers want to successfully scare the audience with scenes like these now a days the monsters have to look truly horrifying. That´s where our man steps in, Stefán Jörgen, monster maker.

What is it called that you do?

It´s called special make-up effects in American, Icelanders would call this leikgervi.

“I just started experimenting. Wax, silicon sealant products…”

 When was it and why did you start out in special make-up effects?

I have been doing it since I was about thirteen years old. I just started fooling around. I was a big fan of Star Wars, Labyrinth, Dark Chrystal and science fiction in general. I guess I wanted to own my own masks and my own science fiction stuff. So one day I decided to try to make stuff like that on my own. I started to experiment with different ingredience and managed to make something that looked ok. I have been teaching myself the craft ever since, trial and error. You didn´t study at school? No I never went to school.

So how did you know how to start?

I just started experimenting with whatever I could get my hands on. Wax, silicon sealant products, it´s the stuff you use for isolation when installing a new window. Later I acquired some latex with a little help from my grandfather, the kind you normally use for carpet glue. Then I could make latex dolls.

Do you remember the first thing you made?

I made a short film when I was in Hjallaskóli (primary school), which featured my first dolls. They were mechanical dolls. I dissembled some remote controlled toy cars, took out the motors and used them to make these dolls that could move their eyes. This was when I was thirteen years old. But the silicon materials I was using at the time where so inflexible that the motors weren’t powerful enough to move the dolls. I had to change methods, I ribbed out a transmission hose out of an old Skoda´s heating system to use to control the dolls. That´s stronger and it worked.

What kind of a film was this?

It was called Gufurnar and featured these silicon puppets that I and some friends of mine made. I had little experience at the time but we did our best. It was just a short comedy, a little puppet film.

How did you decide to make this a carrier?

I don’t know if it was a conscious decision. I just started to make these figures and soon people heard of me and started to ask me to work for them. Things escalated very quickly. I have never had to apply for a job doing this, people are always calling me and asking me to work for them.

Is there plenty of work to be had doing this in Iceland?

Yes, at least these days. I´m working for Þjóðleikhúsið (National Theater) right now.

“it´s about 50% theater and 50% films”

So you also work in theater as well as in films?

Yeah, it´s about 50% theater and 50% films for me. The theater people usually call me when they need disposable facial hair, long noses or if they need to change the appearance of an actor drastically.

Is there something that you have done that you are more proud of than the other stuff?

I don´t know. I am proud of everything I have done I think. But for example I was very proud of my work in the film The Good Heart. I got the Edda award for that (The Icelandic Film Awards). I was also very proud of what I did for the film Last Winter. That is the naked corps you can see there, hanging on the wall. So I guess there are some projects that are more memorable than others.

clip from the movie “The last winter”

Isn´t the work time consuming?

Yes it is. It can take me about a month to make one mask. The naked corpse took me about a month and a half to make, working almost 24 hours a day.

Could you maybe tell us about some of your projects?

Sure. For example I went to London in 2009 to work for the film Wolf Man where my job was to do the Wolf Man makeup. I made a torso for The Good Heart, a frozen corps for Last Winter and I worked on Mýrin (Jar City,) there´s another corps hanging on my wall that is from that film. Köld slóð (Cold Trail) is another film and I also worked on the newest Sveppi film (Algjör Sveppi og töfraskápurinn a.k.a. The Magic Wardrobe), I did some characters for that one. Some projects are more difficult than others, but the work is always fun. You sometimes have to do a lot of research. Study anatomy for example. Look at stuff from the inside out.

Have you been teaching?

Yes. I have been teaching some of the tequnices used for makeup effects here in Iceland at Förðunarskólinn (The Makeup school), how to make fake pieces for faces and that kind of stuff. How do you like teaching? 
I like it. It is fun to teach, though I wouldn´t want to make it into a carrier. I prefer to work in the field.

Are you the only one in Iceland that has made this into a carrier?

I´ve met people who have talked about it, but insofar as I know I am the only one.

Would you consider taking an apprentice if the opportunity came up?

Sure if conditions were right I would be willing to teach someone the ropes. It would also benefit me to have some colleagues that I could call on for help when working on big projects. I´ve often felt that there is a lack of people in Iceland who know the craft.

We thank Stefán Jörgen for letting us visit him in his little workshop of horrors.
It has been very interesting to say the least. Who knows, maybe he’ll end up
getting an apprentice out of this.

imdb.com

Interview/editing: Hallur Örn Árnason
Photographs: Nanna Dís
Camera: BJÖRGVIN SIGURÐSSON

Jónas R. Jónsson

I sit down across from Jónas R. Jónsson as he sits engrossed in his work surrounded by his many tools, he seems utterly content, a man at ease. He ask´s whether he should stop and turn off the music. I tell him not to, by all means keep going. I would simply like to start the interview by asking him what he is doing.

I‘m repairing a small  blemish that formed under the Bridge on this Violin, is seems that the Bridge had been put in place before the varnish had fully dried, and then a late owner must have moved it around, which has caused small damages in the varnish. This I am repairing because aside from this, it is a rather whole and beautiful instrument. It was a bit like the Violin was missing a tooth on a otherwise lovely face.

How did you get into that, it must not surely be the most common of trades?

I came about an old Violin that needed restoration and came into my possession, at which point I found that getting it restored was not as easy as there wasn´t anyone that specialised in restoration. That lead me to start tinkering with it myself and I found it to be such a pleasure that, I bought a few more, to play around with in my spare time. That led me to searching for a school were I could study restoration further, that is, change my occupation.

“for the most part it’s attention to detail and fine crafting”

You have had a long association with music?

That is the basis for all of this, I have been much more associated with music than crafts, the craft being more at a hobby level. The lions share of the task in restoration and repair is getting the sound right, setting the instrument up and making sure that the sound is just that perfect and that’s where having been involved with music helps me quite a lot. It is necessary that you either play the instrument or have a real interest in music.

This takes time, doesn’t it?

Yes, for the most part it’s attention to detail and fine crafting. No matter where you put your finger down it’s all finery and a question of how much poise and staying power you have to follow through with the smallest of tasks. Taking time to do what is in front of you, it all takes time like every single action in this world.

I can then infer that you went abroad to study this craft?

I went to a small private school in the UK. You see, there is a large and well respected Violin making and restoration School in Newark where both Hans Jóhannsson and Jón Marínó, our two finest violin makers studied, and two of the teachers from there had just set up their own little school, that coincided with my search for a place to study. That lead to the wonderful situation where we were three pupils with two teachers, as close as you can get to learning with a grand master in the modern world. Classes in the larger school for instance have anything up to 30 individuals in a year.

(At this point Jónas becomes thoroughly engrossed in his work,
he uses a ear pin to rub in two kinds of adhesive material)

That seems to be a very useful tool if an unlikely one, do you often employ unusual tools and technique in your work?

Yes most definitely, in this job you have to be creative in your solutions, for example this thing here, the meagre ear pin, is incredibly versatile and useful for all manner of tasks, especially finer detail work.

Still you have an eclectic range of instruments here, they must have been hard to come by?

These are all old tools and when I started my studies, the school being near Sheffield in Yorkshire where they championed a new way of working steel, and Sheffield Steel which is famous for its durability and hardness, all of these tools were built there. What I did was to go to antique shops and sales around there and buy rather a lot of them, what you see here is but a portion of the whole. Somehow though each of them seems to have its individual character and uses, one has great balance, one here for instance is a lovely chisel, probably around ninety years old, wonderful steel and bit and is probably one of my chisels I use the most. I found it lying, rusting and dirty in a pile of scrap in one of the shops and cant have paid more than a quid for it. Its a treasure for me!

This must have been horrible to get through customs in the modern world that we live in?

No no, this all I had shipped home when I came back home, I would not have liked to have had this in my pocket.

What characterizes your normal day?

I come into the workshop at around ten, ten-ish. Let me put it this way, my day is calm and devoid of any stress that would be the best way of putting it, and here I’ll sit to lunchtime maybe and then again to around four, five a clock listening to good music (that we can attest to) and working on a Violin. People then drop in every now and then, with something they want me to look at, or with an enquiry, or even just to talk! With these windows I’ve seen that the atmosphere in the city has changed, I mean random people just drop in to say hi, and tourists of course a fair few of them. The time just slips by, comfortably mind you.

This is a luxury few get to enjoy. Yes, but I have done so much in my life that I saw this as a new challenge and a new way of life, this is the first time in a long time that I have worked such regular hours, in such a regular working environment. My occupational horizons have narrowed you could say and that is just wonderful, another thing that is great is all this light that I get through the windows.

“I leave the music on, I feel there should be music here continuously around the clock”

I have been mentioning to people that we where going to do a small interview with you and it seems that nearly everyone in the city has stood and marveld at your workshop.

Yes, I even get comments on the workshops Facebook page about that, and that is wonderful in a sense, at first when I opened I drew back the curtains in fear of burglary, but it felt strange to leave it like that in the evenings, it had no panache, so now I leave the light on, the curtains are in their place and I leave the music on, I feel there should be music here continuously around the clock. It is an absolute privilege to be able to sit all day, tinker and listen to good music.

Here around the workshop I see all kinds of varnish, coatings and plenty of materials I can’t put my name to, this must be hard to get your hands on?

I’m in contact with special distributors that specialize in these goods, these colours here are for instance special oil colours for violin restorers, that is to say these are the common colours that you find on the violins, ranging in tone from the lightest like that one there, and up to the dark one you see up near the top of the shelf, and by blending them together I can get all the tones I need. One of the reasons for joining the school that I did was that the tutors put you in contact with the suppliers and under their tutelage when I came home I nearly had the workshop ready. After the initial search for good premises for the workshop, I simply unpacked and already had roughly 95% of the  tools and materials I need to open my workshop.

You mentioned a change in lifestyle and I can’t help and notice your bicycle by the door.

It’s a new rhythm, less computer, phone, car, etc. I hadn’t envisaged it before hand but has been all the more welcome.

Sitting in the workshop one feels as if in slow motion, were as the rest of the world skitters by in a speeded up timelaps. Movement is smooth and accurate. Sounds crisp and undistorted by traffic and passers by. One wants to use words like serene and blissful but over usage of said words has decreased their relevance, so a simple observation of the facts is in order. On my dictaphone it says; voice recording 3.  21. Minutes, 59 seconds. I have no recollection of any timekeeping in there nor having indeed cared the slightest, for me that hour or so was simply a great tonic against the hustle and bustle of day to day life (yes to me it felt like a hour, two even).

Find his workshop at Óðinsgata 1
101 Reykjavík

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Interview: Guðni Rúnar
Photographs: Nanna Dís

Reykjavík Letterpress

It was a rare and lovely sunny day in Reykjavík when we went for a visit to Reykjavík Letterpress. Situated not far from Laugarvegur, the city’s most famed shopping street, and in a small industrial building we found the entrepreneurs, Ólöf and Hildur waiting and greeting us with a big smile. Though the building is quite industrial and cold, inhumane it is not, quite the contrary – it has all the qualities of a working area but is also as homey as one could wish for. Right of the bat we got to talking…

We purchased the hardware from an 84 year old Páll Bjarnason, a printer by profession and he had been operating it out of his garage. He even taught us how to use it before handing it over.

Before this came about you both worked in graphic design?

We worked together in an advertising company for five years.

That industry suffered like most other after 2008?

Yes and no, we were both working at half capacity after the bust but that gave us plenty of time to plan and work towards this project of ours, Letterpress.

So not your a-typical crisis success story?

Maybe not, but it gets you thinking on what you can do yourself and how not to be dependent on others. This might not have happened if the collapse hadn’t occurred and we had been doing a full time job or even more than that, as the custom is here in Iceland.

How long was the birthing period?

Year roughly, no let us see, exactly nine months after we started airing the idea we moved in here at Lindargata 50.

Did the idea start off slowly and then gain momentum, and were you certain that this was the model for you?

From the start we had a really strong idea of what we wanted to do but we were by no means certain that it was achievable, we didn’t have knowledge of how the market would react, how we were to fund the idea, etc. It´s been hard to get a grant when your going into a competitive field, as it needs to be innovative.

Might even depend on the mood of the person looking at the application?

We don’t see us competing with pre-existing companies. When we speak to printers they don’t see us as a threat, more that we provide greater range of service and this is something that they can gain from. We have heard that for the last few years the industry emphasis has been more on speed and cost reduction and nearly no tinkering or “nostur” is done.

It seems to me that there is a movement; a sort of post digitalization that is centered on going back to handcrafting. What is this giving you as opposed to simply working it in the computer?

For us it means variety. We design and print, then in other cases we design for other printers, then again we print for other designers. The projects that land on our table are for the most part the intricate and special project that you get only a few times a year in an advertisement agency.

Is the work process in anyway different than for example, on the computer?

No, we apply the same process. There are just small differences in what the machine allows, for instance we can’t print photographs, so that might cause us to think differently but we use the same computer programs and the same methods of research. Now there is a lot of time that goes to hands on labour. It´s great to be able to stand up from the computer once in a while.

Typography can be a obsession, would you recognize that?

We can attest to that as we spend a lot of time working with fonts on these special projects, there is seldom a large body of text – it’s more headlines or stand-alone words and it’s so much fun playing around with them.

How does the process work from sketch to the final result?

Sometimes we will use the movable type, there we use what we got with the machine as it’s not being produced anymore. It’s our dream to get some of the big woodblock letters. For the most part we use a plastic photo polymer, then we use the computer and send the result in the form of a PDF to a company that creates for us these printing plates that work like the moveable type and in that the printed part is embossed. Having only the lettering is really restricting. The paper you use must therefore be of supreme quality? The paper that we use is 100% cotton.

The condition of the printing press is astonishing.

That´s all down to Páll who is a delight and our guardian angel.

“Facebook is so large in Iceland that everyone is just on it”

I’d like to ask about the Internet, you certainly have a great following there and it seems that you have been active there from the get go?

Even before we started we were on Facebook, with friends and family looking at what we were doing but then people in the field started following us and we have just been showing how we have gone about it, from the first print, blending colors and everything really. Pictures from when we moved in, that was really a big undertaking.

So this self documentation has been, in a way,
your advertisement?

It has been amazing. Facebook is so large here in Iceland that everyone is just on it and we have put that to a good use, it really is the only thing we have done to promote our self. As well, there are Austrian documentary filmmakers making a film about Iceland post collapse and its effect on people, they interviewed us about what we had been doing and they were also really surprised to learn that we only had been using Facebook.

Not just American Psycho anymore? (reference to business cards)

We do a lot of them in all shapes and sizes, like these bundles that you can rip one of each time you need to hand one out, then there was one woman that came in with used milk cartons and suchlike, that after printing was superb. These prints aren’t comparable to digital prints, there is just something about the texture and feel. Also there is really no end to how varied they can be.

How complex does the work get?

The major complexity is that we can only print one color and therefore people haven’t been using more than one or two colors in business cards or invitations, at least so far and it’s more expensive but not undo-able. Again the issue is that we don’t print photographs unless they are put into one color and printed with the polymer but it extends to serviettes and invitations, doing them for instance in the same format.

“There isn’t a lot of free time, we even forget lunch!”

Dream project or are they all dream projects?

They are all fabulous, the beauty of invitations for instance is that you are involved in an important moment in peoples life, weddings, confirmations or big birthdays. Getting people in here with strong ideas or couples that might not agree and then working it out with them so you get to be a passenger in their adventure. People are really making an effort and they are paying a bit more, they could print from the home printer or do it digital and they will be fine invitations, but they have set the tone and decided to go this way and they care about the process and we feel such gratitude when it goes well. They sense the difference.

That brings me onto the question of self employment,
are you in control of your own working hours?

Yes! maybe not into the night but there have been many occasions where we have worked well into the evening, come in on weekends and holidays and there isn’t a lot of free time. Sometimes we even forget lunch! We didn’t think that was possible. When you came in at 2 pm we where eating toast! Contrary to what you’d think that one might be relaxing coming in at a certain time but you are driven to show up.

We are the worst slave drivers out there, which was a surprise but we have needed to be as there has been so much work to do and you have to pull your weight. This job just gets more and more fun as we
go along.

Long term plans?

More, expand! Hire people and open a store, well that´s the dream. We’re working on making time to work on our own line of cards, and products like that, but there are so few hours in the day. There are many possibilities out there, that´s for sure.

Between the constant phone calls and people dropping in, we witness how vibrant and fun workplace the Letterpress really is. For too long now, we have been a distraction and we see the girls need to get back to work, so with much learning behind us we say our farewell.

With so many new companies and innovative ideas around these days, one wonders how well the start-ups will fare in this climate of uncertainty. But that’s not the case with Letterpress, though young they may be, they have already in a very short time made the grade and earned all the plaudits they have got.

facebook/Reykjavik-Letterpress

Interview: Guðni Rúnar
Photographs: Nanna Dís

Toppstöðin

Take bus #19 out of the centre of Reykjavík and you’ll soon reach what can only be described as an anomaly, Elliðarárdalur is a city park. Nothing spectacular about that, the rather strange thing is the only sustainable and uncontaminated salmon stream in a European capital (maybe the world). But, this is not what we are here for nor the strange fact that every new mayor of Reykjavík has to go through the ritual of catching first one of the fishing season. We are heading to a monstrosity of a building, a former power-station and now home to Toppstöðin, a creative ensemble of designers, artists, photographers and electric car makers. Its main purpose in its later years was filling in on peak times, or the tops of electric use such as Christmas.

Inside we manage to track down Vala Helga Schopka, the project manager of Toppstöðin and I begin by asking her a bit about what her role is?

As a Project manager I am tasked with the day to day running of the place, above me I have a board which I work very closely with, in setting out the path the Station is taking in the long run, as well as at any given time. We have around 22 entrepreneurs and startups working in the building at the moment, so there is a state of flux most of the time and my aim is to try and keep to the plan that has been laid out.

That leads me on to the purpose of the building? Since there is a high turnover, can there be a overriding aim, a grand goal and if so, do people adhere to it?

In 2008 not long after the Bank crisis started two of our board got together and started talking about ways it could be combated, the creative fields having suffered really bad. Architects being the best example.
There were these two, architect and a master builder from the council that knew about this building (scheduled for demolition in 2008 but postponed due to lack of funds) and set about working towards getting permission to move into and start using the building, built in 1948 and not used since 1985.

At its heart, is the idea of this building as a community of creative people, is sustainability, recycling and holding on and strengthening creative industries. The Topstation was formed as an organisation later that year but it took nearly a year of relentless volunteer work on the part of the board and other people that had rallied around the cause to gain accesses and start the necessary repair work in late June of 2009.

This seems like a lot of work on their part?

Yes, and all of it was as I said voluntary. For instance fafu (to be found on www.fafutoys.com) and the other people that were here from the start were building a kitchen and putting up walls for the first two months, neglecting their own work in the meantime. All of the furniture was either present or gifted to the Station by well-wishers, as of December 2009 we have been running in an official capacity and are pretty much into a second generation of inhabitants, something that never could have been realised if the furnishings and or any of the work would have had to been bought in.

Would you say that the second generation is spoilt in some way?

Yes a bit, but you’ve got to keep in mind that a part of the original scheme was to connect designers with the industry and vice versa, so the workshop out back was up and running nearly as soon as we moved into the Station, so these groups have been working together from the start. And there are simply other challenges at hand.

Has there been a Darwinian evolution of the ideas that were in the foundations?

Exactly. There are ideas at the core that have risen to the top and are very prominent in our ethos, new ideas come in with new people. Now we intend to be more extraverted, putting all our events onto the web and as we try more to engage the general public to come to our lecture series and events. Another is that we do need to become almost fully self sustaining, having great benefactors in the council and the power company, that goes a long way in doing that but there is so much more that can be done.

Six thousand square meters of building of which you have put but a small part into use, what is next on the agenda?

We are well aware of the space on the other side of the machine hall, as well as other spaces, like the coal storage downstairs. There’s just the problem with health and safety, which cannot be ignored in a building like this, so we’ll take it slow for now. You can just imagine how quickly things would get really bad if someone was to get hurt in there. Its all been drawn up by an architect, the plans are in place. Really its a case of logistics.

Was and is there a plan for world domination, or something a bit more pragmatic?

Centre for innovation in design and industry, a bit of a melting pot for cross fertilisation between different creative and academic disciplines. This would also include being a think tank and working with similar projects in the other nordic countries first and then further afield.

There is a clear, sky is the limit attitude within the building, maintaining it in the micro through personnel change and in the day to day workings that is tricky, it is so for most NGO’s. On final note I would just like to add my sentiment that I believe the building as a evolving entity will go into quarters unforeseen by anyone, it is my hope at least.

Its the end of March, the last snow of a exasperatingly long winter is being rained away, we button up our winter clothing hopefully for the last time for some while. It just might be to easy a device to use the coming of spring as metaphor for a bright future for the Topstation and Iceland’s creative industries. I will say that in my time there I’ve felt something special in this queer block of a building.

toppstöðin.is

Interview: Guðni Rúnar
Photographs: Nanna Dís

Ranka & Lukas

Þegar ég sest niður með viðtalsefninu þá er stelpan hennar hún Embla Gabríela nýfarin út í vagn, eins og venja er víst á þessu heimili en það er þó engin ávísun á rólega stund. Við hefjum viðtalið í húsi sem gefur frá sér sín eigin hljóð þegar gengið er um það líkt og það andi og með talandanum í okkur, hljóðunum í húsinu, fuglum og raftækjum er um að ræða hljóðmyndun sem er eitthvað í áttina að því þegar stórsveit stillir strengi rétt fyrir tónleika…

Interview only available in Icelandic for now.


,,..ég er með Ranka Maximus á facebook. Glæsilegt. Ó shit nú finna mig allir.”

Segðu okkur endilega hvað frúin heitir, og viðurnefni ef svo á við.

Þarf ég endilega að segja hvað ég heiti? Jú ok, Ragnhildur Jónasdóttir, ég er skírð það.
En náttúrulega heiti ég það ekki neitt, ég heiti Ranka og er kölluð Ranka. Stundum kölluð Ranka Maximus
eða Ranki Pops, eða Rankilicious eða Rank’s eða Rankus og svona einstaka sinnum Elskan mín,
þegar fólk er í góðu skapi en annars geng ég undir nafninu Ranka. Ertu með það skráð í símaskrá eða þjóðskrá? Ehhm… nei en ég er með það skráð í lífinu. Já og á Fésbókinni, er það ekki? Jú, sem skiptir öllu. Það náttúrulega skiptir öllu að ég sé með Ranka Maximus á facebook. Glæsilegt. Ó shit nú finna mig allir.

Ertu lífskúnstner?

Já, bara já. Hvernig lýsir það sér að vera lífskúnstner? Já fyrir það fyrsta, þá mála ég bara málverk að lífskúnst. En hvernig er Ranka lífskúnstner? Það er að sofa út og fá sér kaffi og sígó á morgnana og hafa gaman af lífinu, svo maður noti klisjur. Og bara ekkert stress, ég held það sé voðalega mikið það að vera lífskúnstner að vera ekki stressaður, er það ekki bara nokkuð gott? Þú veist ég myndi nú ekki kalla að vera lífskúnstner að drekka sig fulla á hverjum degi. Maður kláraði það náttúrulega, fyrir svolitlu síðan.


,,..eggjabrauð í forrétt, hakk og spagettí í aðalrétt og popp í eftirrétt”

Með allt þetta að leiðarljósi, hvernig læturðu það virka, að vinna, reka heimili og hafa tíma fyrir list sem og aðra þá hluti sem þú tekur þér fyrir hendur?

Já, það er nú ákveðin kúnst getum við sagt að gera það. Ég gerði þessa frábæru ráðstöfun að henda dótturinni á leikskóla, en það var mjög sniðugt því þá hef ég tíma fyrir heimili, list og rest (smá kaldhæðnistónn í Rönku eins og ég ætti bara að vita um þessa leikskóla og til hvers þeir eru).

Seinni hluta dagsins eyði ég voða mikið með Emblu en hún er svoddan snillingur að ég þarf ekki að hafa mikið fyrir henni þannig, hún bara lífskúnstnerar með mér. Hún samverkar til góðs.

Nú hef ég heyrt að þú sért alger gyðja í eldhúsinu, ofaná allt hitt. Hvað eldar þú helst?

Ef þú kæmir til mín í mat í hverri viku þá myndir þú alltaf fá eggjabrauð í forrétt, hakk og spagettí í aðalrétt og popp í eftirrétt. Sem er þó poppað í potti sem er svolítið merkilegt, því það er deyjandi list. Þetta eru þessir þrír réttir sem ég kann að elda. Hann Lúkas sér mest um að elda.


,,..vorum með svokallað ,,Free donation” kaffihús á Stöðvarfirði í sumar.”

Hvernig er með þessi Eastern Promises, þið eruð víst með annan fótinn á Stöðvarfirði?

Við vorum með svokallað ,,Free donation“ kaffihús á Stöðvarfirði í sumar. Við vorum í galleríinu hjá honum Rikka, Gallerí Snærós. Þar vorum við að gefa kaffið, svona innan gæsalappa. Hvernig gekk það? Það gekk rosalega vel, það voru allir tilbúnir að fá gefins kaffi og svo gat fólk bara styrkt okkur ef það vildi, vegna þess að planið er að opna menningarmiðstöð og kaffihús á Stöðvarfirði ásamt fleira fólki.

Er það langtíma verkefni sem þið eruð að vinna að?

Já, við ásamt Rósu og Stenek, Kjartan og Tobbu, við eru þrjú pör, allt barnafólk í þessu. Lífið stoppar ekkert þó þú sért komin með krakka. Rósa og Stenek eru mikið búin að vera að vinna í styrkjaumsóknum og svoleiðis, því við erum að reyna að fá gamla frystihúsið undir þessa starfssemi.

,,..en þá settum við fótinn í jörðina og sögðum nei”

Innan þessa ramma langar okkur að reisa ljósmyndastúdió, myrkraherbergi, upptökustúdió og kaffibrennslu fyrir kaffihúsið. Það eru íbúðir í frystihúsinu og við viljum setja upp lítil stúdió þannig að listamenn geti komið, fengið íbúð og stúdió til að vinna í. Þeir geta þá verið þarna í ákveðinn tíma og sett upp sýningu niðri, því það er fullt af sölum og pöllum í þessu frystihúsi. Það átti að rífa það en þá settum við fótinn í jörðina og sögðum nei, við vildum fá það! Þeir voru nú ekki alveg tilbúnir að láta okkur fá það fyrst en svo þurftum við bara að koma með góða rekstraráætlun, sem við og gerðum. Við erum búin að funda með öllu þessu mikilvæga liði og þeim líst bara ágætlega á okkur.

Myndir þú segja að þið væruð í þessari sjálfsþurftarbyltingu sem er að eiga sér stað hérna heima?

Já við erum bara að skapa atvinnu fyrir okkur sjálf, því það er enga atvinnu að fá. Sérstaklega ef þú ert listamaður eða tónlistarmaður þá þarftu bara að gera þetta sjálfur. Nú hefur Stöðvarfirði verið lýst sem deyjandi stað? Hann hefur svona smám saman verið að deyja síðan þeir tóku kvótann í burtu. Síðan Fjarðabyggð var sameinuð þá hætti öll starfsemi og það er ekki svo langt síðan, bara nokkur ár, að allt unga fólkið fór úr bænum og með því kaupfélagið, banki og pósthúsið. Þeir hafa því boðið fólki fjárhagsaðstoð sem er tilbúið að koma með starfsemi, og við gripum það á lofti. Settum saman skjal um að við værum að koma með þetta og að þetta væri stór og mikil starfsemi.


Það er mikill straumur þarna af ferðamönnum, er ekki svo?

Rosalegur straumur, vegna steinasafns Petru og annarra hluta þá stoppa þarna um 60 til 80 þúsund ferðamenn yfir sumarið, það eru alltaf rútur þarna og ekkert gott kaffi, fyrr en í fyrrasumar! Það náttúrulega vantar eitthvað fyrir þessa bæi úti á landi, það er mjög áberandi. Þess vegna er líka annað fólk búið að setja sig í samband við okkur, langar að fá að vera með, t.d. Rauðkrossbúðin og einstaklingur sem vill selja verkaðan fisk. Það er þó basar þarna, þar sem fólkið í bænum getur selt muni, sem það hefur verið að búa til.  Áætlunin gerir ráð fyrir því að skapa allt að fimmtán ný störf, og þá erum við ekki aðeins að skapa störf fyrir okkur sjálf heldur aðra þá sem eru á staðnum.

,,svo er þessi staður náttúrulega einn af megin G blettum landsins”

Það virðist oft vanta skilning hjá opinberum aðilum fyrir því hversu mikið fjármagn streymir inn í landið vegna listsköpunar, finnið þið fyrir því þarna fyrir austan að ykkur er sýndur skilningur á því sem þið eruð að gera?

Merkilegt nokk, því við fengum til okkar fulltrúa Menningarráðs Austurlands og fleiri inn í kaffihúsið þar sem voru sýningar til staðar, og öllum leist rosalega vel á það verkefni. Rósa og Stenek hafa aðallega verið að sækja þess fundi þar sem við komumst ekki svo auðveldlega austur en þau hafa ekki fundið fyrir miklu mótlæti. Sérstaklega þar sem við finnum að bærinn stendur við bakið okkur, í hvert skipti sem við höfum samband er fólk að spyrja hvenær við komum og hvað er að gerast. Þetta er ekki bara fyrir okkur sjálf heldur bæinn sjálfan.

Ég held að fólk sjái þetta sem ákveðna líflínu, því frystihúsið var alltaf þetta sláandi hjarta í bænum og ætlunin er að koma því til að slá á ný. Það hefur verið ákveðin stefna um allan heim fyrir framleiðslubæi að enduruppgötva sig eftir að iðnaðurinn hefur horfið. Þetta er ekkert óþekkt dæmi til dæmis er frystihúsið á Stokkseyri notað undir Draugasafnið, í því er kaffi- og veitingahús og eitthvað svipað er á norðurlandi en það er bara ekkert svona á Stöðvarfirði. Og þegar þú ert skapandi og ert innan um þannig fólk þá er það eins og að fá vítamínsprautu. Elur á sköpun hvors annars, alveg ótrúlega og svo er þessi staður náttúrulega einn af megin G blettum landsins, það er þvílík orka þarna. Þú fæst við listsköpun, hefur það ekki bara næstum því alltaf verið þannig?Að fylla baðkarið af sandi þegar maður er þriggja ára, er það ekki svolítið abstrakt list? Jú listamenn safna sér gráðum og vinna mikið til að skapa sambærilega hluti.

Þið brennið og malið ykkar eigin kaffi, er það ekki búið að vera mikið ferli?

Það er ferli! Ég verð að segja að það er alger list, því allar baunir frá mismunandi héruðumog eða löndum eru alltaf mismunandi, það er alls ekki sama hvernig þú gerir það, sumir halda bara að það sé nóg að henda þessu á ofnplötu og inn í ofn og snúa af og til, en þá endar þú bara með súrt kaffi. Súrt eða beiskt, þetta er víst rosaleg tækni, það heyrist ,,krakk“ eins og Lúkas lýsir því. Á seinna ,,krakki” er kaffið tilbúið, en sumt kaffi tekur tíu mínútur að brenna, annað fjörutíu mínútur og enn annað um hálftíma. Þetta er alveg frekar mikið maus.

Vélarnar sem þið notist við, eru þær ekki heimagerðar og þá búnar að vera til nokkrar frumgerðir?

Þetta er alveg heimagert frá grunni, alger heimafæðing. Þetta er held ég, þriðja eða fjórða gerðin, hann var búinn að fara í gengum þær nokkrar áður en hann fann rétta útgáfu. Núverandi vél er samsett úr gamalli brauðvél og hitabyssu. Byssunni er haldið uppi með hljóðnemastandi því það skiptir máli hversu nálægt hitinn kemur frá. Ég gæti aldrei gert þetta þó svo ég hafi séð þetta milljón sinnum gert. Þetta hefur svo sem kostað sitt, eitt sinn kallaði hann: Áttu hárblásara? og ég jánkaði því og þá var honum bara bætt í vélina og síðan eru allar skálar og pönnukökuspaðar horfnir. Ég ætlaði að fara að gera vöfflur um daginn en það var bara búið að gera gat í allar skálarnar til að leita að rétta rúmmálinu. Handlaginn heimilisfaðir, sem sagt. Nú er hans draumur sá að vilja búa til afar stóra vél og þá er þetta komið í það að nota áltromlu úr þvottavél en það vill hann gera á Stöðvarfirði.

Ögn vænlegra að hugsa til Stöðvarfjarðar en að vinna þetta í  gömlu timburhúsi?

Í timburhúsi frá 1933 sem við erum að taka í gegn, jafnhliða því að búa hérna. Það er ansi hrátt hérna niðri í kjallara þar sem ,,kaffihúsið” okkar er. Það skemmtilega við húsið er að það er byggt á krepputíma og það er byggt úr gömlum flutningakössum. Á einum stað stendur til dæmis: Goðafoss – New York Pier. Og inn í herbergi stendur á einum stað ,,Imported from Japan”. Því var svo lyft í annarri kreppu og svo núna erum við að föndra við að vinna í því aftur í þriðju kreppunni, þannig að grey húsið er bara kreppuhús dauðans. Við bara eiginlega tímum ekki að hylja veggina aftur. Húsið er nú ekki mjög svart og hvítt, gerilsneytt nýmóðins hús? Nei þetta er ekkert diet, ekkert diet kók hér.

Svona að lokum, þá hefur þú verið að hanna ýmislegt fyrir hljómsveitir og fleiri. Hvernig gengur að drýgja tekjur af slíkri listsköpun, er þetta gert af ástríðu?

Þetta er voðaleg oft bara fyrir sjálfa mig, en þetta gengur, ég hef verið að drýgja þetta með því að teikna myndir af börnum, í staðinn gefa mæður mér föt á hana Emblu og mér finnst það voða fínt, oftast er þetta nær ónotað. Ég teikna myndir af börnunum þeirra og fæ í staðinn kuldagalla og stígvél, sem mér finnst frábært! Því föt eru dýr. Oft eru þetta allt mikil vöruskipti og ég fíla það mjög mikið bara að fá einhvað til skiptanna, sama er hjá Lúkasi, hann stillir hljóðfæri og fær til okkar pípara í staðinn, þannig er það kannski bara í kreppu, svolítið mannlegt. Á þetta ekki líka við um það þegar þú ert að spá, sem er annað sem ég veit til að þú tekur að þér? Já ég er spákona, ég spái aðallega í Tarrotspil, í lófa og kaffibolla…

Og í því byrjar tökumaðurinn að spyrja um bolla og spádóma og upp úr því er ekki hægt að ná henni aftur inn í viðtalið, hún er komin á ról með að útskýra hvernig það getur skipt máli ef bollarnir eru kúptir og hálffullir af kaffi. Innanhússleikhúsið er komið aftur í sinn vanagang, aðrir gestir detta inn og Embla sem er nú vöknuð þarf að fara á klósettið, við pökkum saman og látum okkur hverfa kurteislega.

Viðtal: Guðni Rúnar
Myndir: Nanna Dís

Antikbúðin

Nýlendufólk í úthverfaparadísinni Mosfellsbæ, Gógó (Sigurlaug Guðrún) og Jónas virðast hæstánægð með tilveruna á stað sem er eins ólíkur þeim og þau eru honum. Bæði eru þau ,,Hlíðaendar”, þ.e.a.s. uppalin í Hlíðunum og sjá sig þar á ný þegar fer að róast hjá þeim. En eins og tíðin er, þá eru þau staðsett við rætur Úlfarsfellsins með Faxaflóann, Esjuna og miðbæinn út um stofugluggann. Þau virðast ekki vita hvað kolefna fótspor er, enda reka þau verslun sína í miðbæ Hafnarfjarðar og eiga því mögulega einn lengsta rúnt í vinnu innanbæjar sem völ er á. En nú sitjum við á spjalli yfir kaffi og fylltum lakkrísreimum.

Interview only available in Icelandic for now.

Hversu lengi hafið þið verið í antík og listmunabransanum?

Í tæplega tuttugu ár. Við byrjuðum á Hverfisgötunni, svo vorum við staðsett í Austurstræti og síðan í Aðalstrætinu. Einnig höfum við verið á tveimur stöðum efst á Laugaveginum en núna síðast erum við á Strandgötunni í okkar öðru húsnæði hér í Hafnarfirðinum. Það er í raun engin eftirsjá frá miðbæ Reykjavíkur, hér er fullt af mannlífi.

,,Við megum í raun ekki koma nálægt gömlum húsum og þá eru þau rifin”

Hvernig kom það til að þið byrjuðuð í antíkbröltinu?

Áhugi og tilviljun. Við komumst í hentugt húsnæði við hliðina á sjoppu sem við rákum segir Jónas. En svo var það var í raun auglýsing um stórt dánarbú sem ýtti okkur af krafti út í þetta. Þau voru mjög oft auglýst þá, einstaklings- og opinber bú og þannig vorum við fljótt komin með tiltölulega stóran lager. Svo keyptum við inn vörur frá Bretlandi og þá var þetta eiginlega orðið svo stórt að ekki varð aftur snúið. Gógó segir að hún og Halldór (pabbi Jónasar) hafi í upphafi sett upp þá verslun.

Þið höfðuð starfað saman áður?

Jú, við höfum í raun starfað saman alla okkar hunds- og kattartíð,
næstum því í þrjátíu ár.

Hvar hófst ykkar samstarf?

Eftir mikla umræðu sín á milli komast þau að sameiginlegri niðurstöðu, þau byrjuðu í Kjörgarði, að hanna og selja skartgripi pönk eyrnalokka og annað þess slags glingur. Við höfðum erft lager af allskonar skartgripum og skartgripahlutum og fórum út í að móta dótið til í allskonar lokka, hattaprjóna og meira í þá áttina. Næst tók við búð sem við nefndum Hitt og Þetta og síðan eru liðin 30 ár og við höfum unnið saman nær samfellt í þann tíma.

Heyrt hef ég að þið séuð bölvun fyrir gömul hús, er einhver sannleiki í þessari fullyrðingu?

Við megum í raun ekki koma nálægt gömlum húsum, því þá eru þau rifin. Við vorum síðustu kaupmenn í þremur af merkustu húsum Reykjavíkur áður en þau voru rifin. Austurstræti 8, þar sem nú er Thorvaldsenbar en það var þekkt sem gamla Moggahúsið (Flóran). Aðalstræti, í því húsi sem nú er Hótel Reykjavík Centrum vorum við líka síðust út. Sama á við um Lækjargötu 4. Þar sem Jómfrúin er, húsið er frægt fyrir að hrynja nánast í beinni (lengi vel notað sem myndefni í byrjun fréttatíma stöðvar 2). Þau hafa öll verið endurbyggð þannig að samviska okkar er hrein.

Fólk er með mjög staðbundnar hugmyndir um hvað antík og antík-búðir eru, en mér sýnist þetta vera að breytast, ekki satt?

Í fyrsta lagi: Á síðustu tíu árum hefur afstaða til antík á alheimsvísu gjörbreyst, ef þú berð saman það sem var ekki litið við áður er nú skoðað af kostgæfni með ,,antik of the future” í huga ekki aðeins hvað er ,,vogue” núna heldur hvað mun vera inn og vera verðmætt á morgun.

Í öðru lagi: Antíkverslun með vörur sem varða ákveðið tímaskeið getur ekki gengið á Íslandi, markaðurinn er bara of þröngur. Erlendis eru nú orðið næstum jafn margar ,,antik of the future” búðir (forngripir framtíðarinnar) og venjulegar antíkbúðir. En það er ekki eitthvað sem er gerlegt hérna, ekki til langtíma allavega.

En hvað þá með ykkar persónulega stíl?

Í rauninni er hann orðinn mjög blandaður í seinni tíð, segir Gógó, á skenknum heima hef ég t.d. nýja hönnun frá Ingu Elínu við hliðin á á silfri frá 1860. Samantekið eru þetta í raun blandaðir hlutir, í tíma og rúmi, þetta er blandað persónulegu fegurðarskyni.

Mynduð þið þá segja að það væri vegna þess að þið hafið alltaf þann möguleika að skipta út vöru?

Já, það er stór hluti af því. Við erum ekki of tengd hlutunum hvað það varðar, ef við fáum æði fyrir einhverju nýju sem kemur inn þá er auðvelt að skipta öðru út. Auðvitað eru samt alltaf sumir hlutir sem fá að halda sínu, hlutir sem hafa tilfinningalegt gildi.

,,Ég vil leyfa hlutunum að njóta sín, hvort sem þeir eru gamlir eða nýir.”

Hefur stíllin ykkar þróast?

Já! Hann er sífellt að þróast, módernisminn (nútímalegt viðhorf) þar sem bakheilinn þarf að vinna er alltaf að verða meira örvandi með tímanum hjá okkur, landslagsmyndirnar sem voru uppi á öllum veggjum eru eiginlega allar horfnar. Gógó segir að það megi þó ekki láta það fréttast að hún sé með ,,less is more” hugmyndafræði í antík (fyrir sig allavega). Ég vil leyfa hlutunum að njóta sín, hvort sem þeir eru gamlir eða nýir.

,,antik-sali fer að elska alla fegurð ekki aðeins í formum, heldur einnig í náttúrunni..”

Hvar byrjar og endar listaverkaáhugi ykkar?

Hann byrjar bara með sjónhrifum sem virka á okkur, en við látum ekki myndlist á okkur fá eftir listamannanöfnum. Upp á vegg erum við með myndir sem hafa komið inn til okkar eða við fundið hér og þar og þær eru algerlega lausar við þær byrðir að bera þekkt nöfn. Á sama tíma erum við með Kjarval í geymslu vegna þess að hún höfðar ekki til okkar eins og stendur. Fegurðarskynið fær að ráða, ekki verðmiði.

Móðins nýhönnun í dag að ykkar mati?

Svo nokkur nöfn séu nefnd, þá var Jón Gunnar Árnason mjög fær sem gerði sólfarið við Skúlagötu, segir Jónas. Eins Eiríkur Smith og Karl Kvaran, skjóta þau inn nær samtímis. Bragi Ásgeirsson er nú líka ákveðið uppáhald.

Nú er ný afstaðinn grenndardagur Þjóðminjasafnsins, af hverju voruð þið eða aðrir fulltrúar stéttarinnar ekki þar?

Okkur þætti mjög gott að vera boðið en okkar fag virðist virt að vettugi vegna þess að það er ekki til neitt réttindaskírteini í því. Við eru meira eins og ,,alminjaverðir” en við viðurkennum að sumt þurfum við að senda frá okkur því það er komið út fyrir okkar aldurssvið, það er líka sumt sem við neitum að selja úr landi, sökum aldurs og minjavirðis.

Að lokum vil ég vita hvernig áhugamál þið hafið, svona fyrir utan það ofangreinda?

Fara í sund og ekki, bara beint í gufuna. Ég myndi segja að antík-sali fer að elska alla fegurð, ekki aðeins í formum, heldur einnig í náttúrunni og því förum við mikið í göngu- og hjólatúra. Okkar drifkraftur er í öllu þessu, allt er þetta samtengt.

Viðtal: Guðni Rúnar
Myndir: Nanna Dís