Reykjavik is best experienced by immersing yourself in both the exquisite cold colours, straight lines and muted tones of its interiors, and the wild, roaring and sparse openness of its stunning natural spaces.
#1: Eyja Guldsmeden Hotel
Standing proud near the heart of Reykjavik is the Eyja Guldsmeden Hotel. Adorned with fluffy sheepskins, natural wood flooring and punctuated with charcoal black features, this hotel is a haven in which to soak up all the best design that Iceland has to offer.
The Eyja Guldsmeden Hotel is owned by Linda Jóhannsdóttir and her husband Ellert Finnbogason, who have created a design-led retreat filled with objects of interest and intriguing paintings. The design of the hotel is inspired by sustainable and eco-friendly living which permeates through each and every room
of the hotel.
#2 The Open Road:
Once you’ve explored the neatly quaint streets of Reykjavik, it’s time to head out into the wild unknown. Iceland is sparsely populated, making it dramatically unspoilt and almost musical in its emptiness. The sculptural outlines of Iceland’s beaches are stunning in their architectural beauty. Slate black sand offsets the crisp light blue of the ocean, the zen-like feel of the grit mesmerising.
Driving along the coast, you will be greeted with bands of wild horses which look like they’ve leapt out of a magic Narnia-inspired wallpaper.
Cascading clouds create lines that, when combined with the dark muted tones of the landscape, are a fest of design inspiration. Pools of water shimmer as they envelop the sky and create the most beautiful shapes and textures.
#3 Stofan Cafe:
Our must-visit for a charming morning coffee is Stofan Cafe. Decorated in an old-world style with faded driftwood walls and antique furniture, this spot is filled with beautifully curated nautical touches that fill the air with the presence of every traveller who has ever passed through. The enormous vintage map of Iceland adds to the nostalgic charm and the clashing fabrics add a touch of eccentricity.
This corner in Iceland is an absolutely magical insight into medieval life. Now owned by the National Museum of Iceland, the farm of Keldur is dotted with a row of timber turf houses. Each one built with absolute precision, rows of corrugated iron, rooftops glisten in the afternoon sun, with stone and stengur walls marking each their own little moss-covered patch.
Each little house has been carefully decked out with interior panelling, and the heady smell of the wood transports you back to a rural bygone life. A sensory experience rich with design inspiration in its most natural form. A must see.
The stunning Harpa concert hall, designed by Henning Larsen Architects and Olafur Eliasson is a wonder of glass geometric design. Eliasson’s influence is stark, no doubt owing to his trademark portfolio of elemental materials and his love of light and water.
Standing inside Harpa is an uplifting and transportive experience, a cacophony of light play. The spinning colours are never the same on any two days, dictated by the clouds, sun and sky. This is the beauty of the design, and why it’s an essential stop on your Icelandic adventure. You will be endlessly inspired contemplating how you can transfer this magic to your own windows, cushions, fabrics and the configuration of all your rooms. Beauty in lines, light and layout - this is a design lover’s opium.
The construction of this magnificent church was completed in 1986, designed by the Architect Guðjón Samúelsson. The smooth materials and 244ft of space and solitude make it a truly spell-binding place. Designed to reflect the lines of Iceland’s magical landscape, it is easy to see the mountains and glaciers of this mesmerising country reflected back at you in the cool stone and towering jagged edges.
The viewing tower at the top is one of the best spots to admire Reykjavík’s wonderful colours, streets and surrounding landscape. Soak it up as once you’re home this mysterious and enchanting place feels like a distant dream.
Sophie and Rosie created their Travel Design Journal series as an alternative to traditional guides, for those who want to travel around the world's most exciting places through the lens of design. Currently in the Series: Cuba, Morocco, Copenhagen, Reykjavík and Seville - watch this space for upcoming destinations.
Let us know your thoughts below, S & R xxx
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