Inspired by the best of Iceland in 2022
It's that time of the year for reflection. Actually, as I write this at 10 AM here in Iceland in December, it's so dark outside that all of the windows are like a mirror, so reflections are never far away. However, the days are faintly longer now as we move into 2023, and it's time to look back at some of the best stories from the past year.
Mission Iceland: Our recent Mission Iceland campaign metaphorically brought us back to Earth. While news headlines championed the desires of billionaires' (delayed) quests for space travel, here at Inspired by Iceland Control Center, we encouraged people to have otherworldly experiences right here in Iceland. You will find plenty of extraterrestrial scenery and alien experiences, with conveniences like delectable food, hot springs, and flush toilets. Our witty campaign was a big hit and received a lot of media attention that we appreciated. Not surprisingly, NASA trained astronauts here for the Apollo missions. Iceland is still an excellent place to do space-related research because its diverse topography and habitats are perfect for simulating space training. In fact, the Icelandic Space Agency is developing research and innovation initiatives here to advise on space policy and provide operational logistics and research support for various international stakeholders.
Hometown carbon heroes: Speaking of space billionaires, in April, Icelandic carbon sequestration company Carbfix won two separate Milestone Prizes in Elon Musk's FOUNDATION XPrize. Carbfix is collaborating with partners Heirloom and Verdox, allowing the companies to scale up their direct air capture technologies and bind the captured CO2 emissions into stone. The XPRIZE Carbon Removal aims to reduce human-caused climate change and rebalance the Earth's carbon cycle. Elon Musk funds the $100M prize, the most significant incentive prize in history to scale up carbon capture technologies. The judges screened nearly 500 submissions to identify 15 teams that will each receive a $1 Million Milestone Prize in 2022. The competition will conclude in 2025, where judges will select a $50 Million Grand Prize Winner and three runner-ups that will divide the remaining $30 million. There are currently 15 teams in the running for the grand prize. Go Carbfix!
(L to R) Mission Iceland was a success, Dr. Edda Sif Pind Aradóttir, CEO of Carbfix is turning CO2 into stone with various companies and the help of XPRIZE money. Designers Arnar Ingi and Valdis Steinars explore how the life cycle of a product can be extended. Discarded down coats from 66°North get a new life in their Erm Chair on show during DesignMarch.
Making more with what we've got: Design aficionados flocked to Iceland this past May for DesignMarch. While the show used to be held in March, it has transitioned to May, which many people appreciate when walking to events and less chance of snow. This year's event had over 100 exhibitions and more than 250 events. There is everything at DesignMarch: architecture, graphic design, fashion, furniture design, and much more. The design festival is important for Iceland's emerging and innovative design scene. It is hard to walk away without saying, "That is amazing!" or "Why did I never think of something like this?"
Tune in: Just as summer was rolling in, the Iceland Music website launched a new stream called Iceland Music LIVE. The Iceland Music website has over 20 playlists across genres like contemporary classical, indie music, metal, and pop. Iceland Music LIVE is an excellent way to discover emerging Icelandic musicians and to listen to staples such as Björk, Sigur Rós, Of Monsters and Men, and Vök. The Iceland Music website also provides international concert listings by Icelandic artists in one convenient place. Look for your own Icelandic playlist.
Aiming for the Michelin stars: In July, Iceland received some excellent culinary news from the folks at Michelin. Chefs Rúnar Pierre Heriveaux and Thráinn Freyr Vigfússon of Óx Restaurant received a well-deserved star. Only the second restaurant after Dill to receive the accolade. Óx is a micro-restaurant within Sümac Restaurant on Laugavegur Street in downtown Reykjavík. The chefs at Óx prepare food for one sitting each evening for 11 guests. Arrive on time! You will all be eating together at the counter right next to the chefs cooking away. The restaurant offers a set 16-course menu for a flat price that includes paired drinks to match the day's menu perfectly. For any foodie, a meal at Óx will be an unforgettable experience if you can get a seat at the table. Chef Gunnar Karl Gíslason's Dill Restaurant bolstered its culinary status this year with a Michelin Green Star. Green Stars are awarded to those in the industry who are ethical and environmental leaders and work with sustainable producers to eliminate waste and remove non-recyclables from the supply chain.
(L to R) Log in to Iceland Music Live to stream to your heart's desire. Chef Thrainn Freyr Vigfusson ÓX Restaurant (and Sümac), and Icelandic horse typing out reply emails this past summer.
Let the hooves do the typing: We introduced the world's first OutHorse email service before riding out for our summer holidays. We encouraged people to say "neigh" to constantly check email/messages/notifications and to switch off during their vacation. People around the world signed up to let the hooves do the typing. Our automatic equine email response system engaged Iceland's unique breed of horses to reply to work emails. Yes, you read that right. Real horses typed out actual out-of-office replies on a giant horse-sized keyboard.
More lava: Throughout July and August, those in the Reykjavík area felt the seismic activity mainly coming from the Reykjanes Peninsula. While Icelanders are used to this, the feeling can be a bit disconcerting for visitors. On August 3rd, the Fagradalsfjall volcanic eruption began with fury and, thankfully, very little ash. The new fissure opened up close to the 2021 eruption. Although it was a longer hike into the site, visitors were rewarded with another magnificent "tourist-friendly" eruption. It is always fun to see the faces of people who witness a volcano up close and personal for the first time. This eruption tapered out quickly, compared to last year's six-month eruption, ending on August 21st. We suspect that there may be more to come...
Ready to rock: After a three-year Covid break, Iceland Airwaves returned in November and filled Reykjavík streets with the sound of music. Concert revelers rejoiced at hearing their favorite bands—and a whole pack of new ones—play live once again. Concertgoers were so excited to get back in the audience that Airwaves sold out all of its passes. Ask an attendee what their top five shows were; we suspect you will get a different list each time.
(L to R) Fagradalsfjall Volcano eruption started in August 2022. Audiences were thrilled to return to Airwaves. Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan in Iceland. Photo: Mark Zuckerberg's Instagram.
Rolling out the lava/mossy carpet: There seems to be a star theme in this year's review... On December 10th, film stars filled Harpa Concert Hall. Iceland hosted the 35th European Film Awards ceremony, which was supposed to be held in 2020. Despite the delay, the ceremony and external sessions were a huge success. Approximately 700 guests from 43 countries and about 100 journalists attended. Triangle of Sadness was the year's big winner, with four awards: The European Film award, European Director: Ruben Östlund, European Actor: Zlatko Burić, and European Screenwriter: Ruben Östlund.
Metaverse collides with the Icelandverse: In a slight rewind to the best of 2021, our Icelandverse campaign did pay off. At least, we hope. Mr. Zuckerberg and his wife, Pricilla Chan, left the metaverse to visit a remote lodge in North Iceland. They appeared to enjoy an immersive open-world experience, the company of land-based mammals (sheep), and authentic "wet" water. Good for them for visiting the Icelandverse!
Here's to you and an excellent 2023!