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Interview with Johann Sigmarsson

Home > Designer Interviews > Johann Sigmarsson

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Johann Sigmarsson (JS) for A’ Design Awards and Competition. You can access the full profile of Johann Sigmarsson by clicking here.

Interview with Johann Sigmarsson at Thursday 17th of April 2014
Johann Sigmarsson
FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
JS: When I was a child my dad always came with empty wine bottles for me to paint on. I started from there. I was never going to be a designer. I was not thinking of it. Of course I were looking and thinking of the beauty of design in items, but I was thinking of it differently than today. I was thinking of its function or I was thinking how can I use it for my Art. I am filmmaker and artist. I got involved into filmmaking, but I was thinking of art. Today it's no art in filmmaking. It's just some bureaucracy trying to be entertainment for the market dominated by the business people. It's highly overrated, so I changed my life back to art.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
JS: The Equator Memorial Project is a group of international artists who are creating art pieces and functional objects by recycling materials from world historical monuments. The target is to held series of exhibitions on the heritage site locally, in galleries or museums worldwide. The exhibitions will comprise a few, numbered items of functional objects and art works related to the heritage sites. The intention is that the pieces will be signed by the artists and sold at auction in the end of every exhibition. A part of the income for each sold piece will be allocated to charity fund for supporting community projects. Accompanying every item will be a short informational text on the history of the material. Recycled Materials: The Reykjavík Harbor, The Berlin Wall, The Hamburg Port and Hiroshima.

FS: What is "design" for you?
JS: That's design in everything on earth, so design is very important.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
JS: Something that comes out of my subconscious and is unexpected. I'm a bit of surrealistic. I believe in dreams and more important I believe in daydreams. I like random.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
JS: I am thinking about story in design and somehow LA CHOCOLATERIE MENIER is a beautiful architecture which is in a river. The story is the Menier Chocolate company was a chocolate manufacturing business founded in 1816 as a pharmaceutical manufacturer in France, at a time when chocolate was used as a medicinal product and was only one part of the overall business.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
JS: Shoes for myself in 1989. I am disabled on the right side of my body after meningitis in childhood. So I sketched up shoes which specially made for me by shoemaker.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
JS: Old material which can be recycled into new items.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
JS: When I sleep.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
JS: How is its function? Is it comfortable? And beauty?

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
JS: Its great when I forget myself.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
JS: Of course it's exciting.

FS: What makes a design successful?
JS: Its beauty and its function.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
JS: Its beauty and its function. Is it comfortable?

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
JS: They should think more about the environment.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
JS: It is great future.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
JS: Last summer at Reykjavík City Hall in cooperation with UNESCO. We want to held our next exhibition in Hamburg.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
JS: From life, experience and films. The story behind it.

FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
JS: I'm first of all creating art. I do everything with my left hand. To create!

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
JS: In Iceland, but in May 2012, I was watching a report on the evening news about the Association of Icelandic Ports and its intention to refurbish the Reykjavík Harbor. Apparently, much of the jetty was to be removed and discarded. It occurred to me then that the wood might be recycled and used to make furniture. And this was the beginning of a brand new idea. In autumn, I obtained permission to take the wood being thrown away by the Reykjavík Harbor. We then began to dry and plane it in preparation for the project. I soon discovered that much of the material was perfect for what I had in mind, i.e. stylish handmade furniture. Aside from being environmentally friendly, this recycling was also a kind of resurrection. Way back in 1903, the very same material was used to construct a dock for the herring fleet, which later became a part of the Reykjavik Harbor that was constructed between 1913 and 1917. Closer examination revealed that the some of the wood originally came from a German schooner that sank off the south coast of Iceland in 1890. The vessel was brought to Reykjavik and disassembled for scrap. Fascinatingly, research indicated that that the trees may have been more than 200 years old when they were first used for shipbuilding. The recycled wood from the Harbor gives the furniture a characteristic look and holds part of Reykjavík’s history at the same time.

FS: How do you work with companies?
JS: I am freelance and work for myself, but of course I have to deal with other people and companies. Usually it's a good cooperation, but everything have to be fair and honest.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
JS: Give them as much freedom as possible.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
JS: Usually I don't think so much about it. I let it come into my mind easy and sketch it down, then I start to do the prototype and from there I can change it.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
JS: Some trees.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
JS: When I wake up I am usually curious about the day, who I'm going to meet and what I'm going to do?

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
JS: It's alright to do mistakes. You can learn from it.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
JS: I don't consider myself as designer. I am artist.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
JS: No golden rules.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
JS: I don't know.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
JS: I use photoshop, indesign and freehand. Of course there is a inspirations from other artists, designers and architects in the history. I analyze myself for what I want to do.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
JS: I don't think so much of the time. You can always develope yourself later on.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
JS: It depends on what you're doing. You can always do another prototypes of the same item.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
JS: I'm not a designer.

FS: What was your most important job experience?
JS: To do some mistakes and get over it.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
JS: From private collectors to companies and institutions, but I don't have such a long experience in clients, because. It is only three years since I designed and built my first bed. I didn't know I could do it, so it was very surprising situation.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
JS: I enjoy when my subconscious is working and I create art piece.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
JS: Exhibitions worldwide, mainly with the Equator Memorial Project.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
JS: I have been developing and creating pieces myself, but now we're getting a international team together concerning the current project.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
JS: I have lot of pieces going on which I am preparing.

FS: How can people contact you?
JS: Through www.40074km.is - The Equator Memorial Project, or the competition.

FS: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
JS: No comment.


FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.


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