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Hæ / Hi exhibition at DesignMarch

Hæ/Hi exhibition celebrates "love affair" between Reykjavík and Seattle

Eighteen studios from Iceland and USA have collaborated to create pieces for the Hæ/Hi Designing Friendship exhibition in Reykjavík as part of the DesignMarch festival.

Taking place at the Asmundarsalur art gallery, the exhibition aimed to celebrate the relationship between the cities of Reykjavík and Seattle, home to the largest Icelandic population in the United States, by pairing designers from the two cities.

In total, eight groups of studios created pieces for the exhibition.

Hæ / Hi exhibition at DesignMarch
The Hæ/Hi exhibition included pieces by Ragna Ragnarsdottir and Fruitsuper

"During Reykjavík's bicentennial anniversary in 1986, Reykjavík and Seattle signed a sister city pact that charted the course for 34 years of cultural and educational exchange," said curator Darin Montgomery.

"The KEXP public radio station in Seattle has been broadcasting Iceland Airwaves for a number of years and are champions of the Icelandic music scene," he continued.

"As a result, Seattle has developed a love affair of sorts with Iceland and we thought it would be interesting to introduce individuals from the design communities with the hope it could develop into the same sort of relationship we have with the music scene."

Hæ / Hi exhibition at DesignMarch
Hanna Dis Whitehead, Amanda Ringstad and Sidona Bradley created a piece from wood, glass, clay, straw and steel

The concept for the exhibition stemmed from a conversation between Montgomery and Halla Helgadottir, director of the government-funded organisation Iceland Design and Architecture, in 2018.

"We were discussing the similarities, but also the differences our cities share in the design community," explained Montgomery.

"Although digital communication and social media have helped remove some of the barriers from geographic isolation, there is no substitute for the personal connections we make when we have an opportunity to meet face to face."

Weird Pickle, Fin and Hann Elias created a sensory experience.
Weird Pickle, Fin and Hann Elias created a two-person sensory experience for the exhibition

The exhibition follows on from last year's inaugural event, which focused on initial meetings to challenge designers to interpret the word saman, meaning together.

"Each project is a collaboration between Icelandic and Seattle-based studios, making both the process and results an expression of saman/together," added Montgomery.

Hæ / Hi exhibition at DesignMarch
Designer Theodora Alfredsdottir and Gabriel Stromberg created ceramics that match a table covering

Pieces in the exhibition include several vessels that could be used for sharing or collecting. Icelandic designer Theodora Alfredsdottir collaborated with graphic designer Gabriel Stromberg, who also designed the graphics for the exhibition, to create a series of vessels for sharing food that were based on forms from a tablecloth.

Designer pairings Agustav and design studio Grain created sharing plates, while Icelandic studio Hugdetta and multidisciplinary practice WKND Studio made trays to "put your discoveries on display".

Agustav Grain
Agustav and Grain created sharing bowls

Other pieces in the exhibition included a coffee table designed by Jon Helgi Holmgeirsson and Stevie Shao and a collection of pieces made from hand-cast wax and blown glass by Reykjavík studio Thorunn Arnadottir and Seattle-based John Hogan.

While several of the pieces had defined uses, Icelandic artist Hanna Dis Whitehead, photographer Amanda Ringstad and US designer Sidona Bradley collaborated to create a piece from ash wood, glass, clay, straw and steel that aimed to instead represent their different viewpoints.

Icelandic designer Ragna Ragnarsdottir and Seattle studio Fruitsuper teamed up to create a series of pieces that were designed to capture the sense of light in Reykjavík and Seattle.

The exhibition was completed by a two-person sensory experience designed by consultancy Weird Pickle, Seattle design shop Fin and graphic design studio Hann Elias.

Thorunn Arnadottir and John Hogan made objects from glass and wax

With the pairings, Montgomery aimed to push the designers to avoid common troupes of friendship, such as pairs of glasses.

"Each of the pairings pushed in different directions and considered other opportunities," he explained.

"For example: a platform for starting conversations and sharing discoveries, the quality of light the Pacific Northwest and Iceland have in common, an experience that encourages you to get physically closer to someone than you might normally be."

Hugdetta WKND Studio
Hugdetta and WKND Studio made display plates

Hæ/Hi took place during the annual DesignMarch festival and was included in Dezeen's pick of the highlights from the event.

The event also include a day of talks, which was live-streamed on Dezeen.

The photography is by Liefur Wilberg.

DesignMarch took place in Iceland during 3 to 7 May. For more events, exhibitions and talks in architecture and design visit Dezeen Events Guide.

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Hæ / Hi exhibition at DesignMarch
Hæ / Hi exhibition at DesignMarch
Hæ / Hi exhibition at DesignMarch
Hæ / Hi exhibition at DesignMarch
Hæ / Hi exhibition at DesignMarch