8 Apr

Rúna Thors

5 minute read

DesignMarch 2024 Highlights

DesignMarch 2024 Highlights

Icelandic designer Rúna Thors shares her personal checklist for DesignMarch, Iceland’s premier design showcase, from April 24-28 2024.

Female model during Insights fashion designer showcase at DesignMarch 2024.

A model wearing a dress for the Insights fashion designer showcase at DesignMarch 2024.

DesignMarch is around the corner, and the excitement is growing. The annual design festival offers the freshest and latest happenings in the Icelandic design scene.

Initially, the festival was held in March, which partly explains the name, but the festival also involves people marching between exhibitions, so the name still sticks. Plus, the move to later in the year helps avoid the worst winter weather.

The festival kicks off with a grand and entertaining lecture day, DesignTalks. It's like attending a class reunion, but not an embarrassing one! A delightful one where all the designers gather and reminisce about what has happened since the last DesignMarch. We enjoy inspiring lectures from leading designers worldwide and give each other high fives in between. This year's theme is Circus - where chaos is the norm, and the balancing act is art! A circus is indeed a fitting analogy for the festival as a whole. People come together, seek inspiration, find enchantment and delight, and become more aware of demanding challenges. All in such a good balance, like a tightrope walker in the circus.

After the lectures, everyone gathers at the opening ceremony, which includes speeches and festivities but also a tingling sense of excitement.

Next is the annual DesignRace (not an official part of the festival, just something we talk about since there is so much going on that you must start running). People flock between venues, openings everywhere, new encounters, and new discoveries. The design scene in Iceland is small, but the festival is big. Almost everyone participates and wants to join in the celebration.

I usually try to attend all the festival's exhibitions. But over the years, the events have multiplied, and it's almost impossible to cover everything in this short time. Therefore, I have compiled a list of exhibitions I will definitely see—and you should too—and categorized them. Hopefully, I will be able to see quite a few more exhibitions and encourage you to do the same. Here is the full schedule:

DesignMarch full schedule

Here are my recommendations - in no particular order: 


In this category, I'll take you to a former public toilet, a magical world of scents, the main hiking area around Reykjavik, and a greenhouse within an apartment block for the elderly. 

Orange Work

The exhibition "Orange Work" in Núllið Gallery will first and foremost display visual and written research reflecting the history of graphic design produced within Freetown Christiania; in other words, in an anarchist commune framework.

Pebbles, Stones & Rocks

This collaborative exhibition by Fischersund and Jón Albert revolves around Jón's upcoming book on homesickness, an old bookstore in Reykjavik, and nostalgia. The Fischersund fragrance itself draws inspiration from the essence of old books reminiscent of those found in Bókabúð Steinars, evoking feelings of homesickness and the lingering scent of home.

Esjan offspring

Exhibition by first-year students in product design at the Iceland University of the Arts, where they invite you to connect with Mt. Esja by sound, touch, and feel and to discover your relation to the terrain from a new perspective. 


The exhibition includes 3D-printed ceramic flowerpots, soundtracks for growing things, dot matrix prints, and handmade clothing. All of this melds into an alternate world, a timeless communion where past and future morph into a new now.

This web graphic is for the exhibition "Orange Work" in Núllið Gallery, which reflects the history of graphic design produced in Freetown Christiania, Denmark.
Esjan offspring web graphic for the exhibition to connect with Mt. Esja outside of Reyjkjavík.
Secondary design and research project for Icelandic eiderdown. Picture of a shopping cart full of eiderdown.

Photos: Graphic for the exhibition "Orange Work" in Núllið Gallery, art from Esjan Offspring, and shopping cart full of eiderdown Secondary design will work with.


In these projects, craftsmanship and material experimentation play a crucial role.


The design and research project Secondary demonstrates the utility and quality of rejected eiderdown, which does not meet quality standards, making it unsellable. At the exhibition, guests will see prototypes of clothing made from secondary eiderdown, which will be produced locally if changes are made in the laws of quality standards. 


At the exhibition, a fusion of craftsmanship, digital innovation, art and design, and traditional and contemporary materials intertwine, showcasing their diverse attributes. Clay meets straw, and wood intersects with wool, bridging the gap between past and present attributes.

Kintsugi: Japanese Repair Technique

Iku Nishikawa from Kintsugi Oxford introduces the art of kintsugi and its meaning before providing a practical step-by-step demonstration of how guests can use kintsugi techniques at home to repair broken or chipped ceramic items.


Humor and a fresh approach can be important when tackling heavy topics like economic data and textile waste.

Economic interest

The project employs economic data to craft three-dimensional sculptures. Experiments are carried out to create tangible representations that enrich the comprehension of intricate information.

From sweaters to smiles

In partnership with 66°North, Ýrúrarí reinvigorates defective sweaters by providing them with a new purpose and distinctiveness.

Image of various items for the Attributes exhibition during DesingMarch 2024.
Kintsugi: Japanese Repair Technique image of a broken porcelain cup for DesignMarch 2024.
Picture from the project Economic Interest that  crafts three-dimensional sculptures from economic data.

Photos: The Attributes exhibition mixes many mediums, Kintsugi: Japanese Repair Technique beautifully strengthens what is broken, and Economic Interest displays data in new ways.


A critical role of DesignMarch is to give insight into the work of young talents.

FLEY - Fledgling Designers Open Call Exhibition

FLEY, named after the Icelandic word for vessel or boat, serves as both a hub and a launchpad for emerging designers in Iceland. It is a platform for showcasing fresh perspectives and innovative approaches within Iceland's vibrant design landscape.

IUA Graduate Fashion Show

Fashion design students from Iceland University of the Arts will showcase their BA graduate collections.


Insights, a yearly event showcased at DesignMarch, is a captivating introduction to fresh and talented fashion designers who have recently graduated.

Young Talents of Fashion Design - Landsbankinn

An exhibition that comes to life with a show on Saturday, April 27, from 5:00-7:00 PM. Merging fashion, architecture, music, and business together in an evening, celebrating avant-garde ideas and future fashion, accompanied by visionary music by Gabriel Ólafs and Bergur Þórison.


Now, a few projects involving performative aspects 


Codapent is a new medicine on the market that offers quick recovery from codependency. The Codapent team will introduce you to suggestions for recovery and shed light on how emotions are evoked in solid material. The event lasts approximately one hour in a home in the city center. 

Table no.1

Four musicians participate in a happening, which begins with a dinner party at Table No. 1. Towards the end, the plates are removed, and a musical performance, or musical feast, begins at the table.

One With Nature

With her installation 'One With Nature,' Maria Ader creates edible rocks, stones, ice sculptures, and other objects found in Icelandic caves and nature. Visitors will have the opportunity to consume the installation. The work will be presented along with a performance by electronic musician Jackson Bailey.

Icelandic fashion designer Ýrúrarí and 66°North reinvigorate defective sweaters during DesignMarch 2024.
Female model during Insights fashion designer showcase at DesignMarch 2024.
Table no. 1 for DesignMarch 2024

Photos: Icelandic fashion designer Ýrúrarí and 66°North remake defective sweaters, you never know what you may see at Insights fashion show during DesignMarch, and Table no. 1 musical experience.


Last but not least, here are some projects based on exciting collaboration.


This spring, the third part of the collaboration with the outdoor brand Salomon was released, and for that reason, RANRA is hosting a celebration and a retrospective exhibition, where the process work, material selection, and philosophy behind the collaboration are shown.

Hæ/Hi: Vol III | Welcome

Hæ/Hi: Designing Friendship, a collaborative project featuring Icelandic and Seattle-based design studios, will address the acts that take place and the objects associated with arriving and departing, greetings, and goodbyes.


Omnom and Theodóra Alfreðsdóttir have forged an impactful alliance to explore the untapped potential of husk, a magical byproduct of the cacao bean. They will offer a thoughtfully curated journey of memories and nostalgia via chocolate. 

Ranra  collaboration with the outdoor brand Salomon for DesignMarch 2024
Hæ/Hi: Designing Friendship Vol III web graphic
Icelandic chocolatier Omnom and designer Theodóra Alfreðsdóttir examine the potential of husk, a magical byproduct of the cacao bean.

Photos: Ranra collaboration with the outdoor brand Salomon, poster for Hæ/Hi: Designing Friendship Vol III, and Icelandic chocolatier Omnom and designer Theodóra Alfreðsdóttir examine the potential of husk, a magical byproduct of the cacao bean.

DesingMarch 2023 trailer

Icelandic designer Rúna Thors photograph

This article was written by Rúna Thors

Rúna Thors is an Icelandic designer who studied at the Design Academy Eindhoven. She is an assistant professor in product design at the Iceland University of the Arts.

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