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Hand-Knitted Icelandic Sweater Receives Protected Status

lopapeysa Icelandic sweater

The term ‘Icelandic sweater’ (Icelandic: íslensk lopapeysa) is now a legally protected product name, having received a Designation of Origin status today from the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority. The Icelandic hand-knitted wool sweater is a traditional Icelandic garment. By receiving a Designation of Origin, the sweater becomes the second product name to receive such legal protection in Icelandic, following in the wake of Icelandic lamb meat.

The Handknitting Association of Iceland (Icelandic: Handprónasamband Íslands) formally applied for the designation of origin with The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority. The application stated that the sweaters are an original design unique to Iceland, which has origins in Icelandic knitting- and pattern traditions from the middle of the 20th century. The craftsmanship in the sweaters when it comes to making them, as well as the patterns, are derived from Icelandic cultural traditions.

Conditions to be met for the designation of ‘Icelandic sweater’

Certain conditions have to be met for sweaters to officially receive the designation of origin connected to the term ‘Icelandic wool sweater’, including that the wool in the sweater comes from Icelandic sheep, as well as having to be handwoven from virgin wool. The main conditions follow:

  1. The wool used to make handcrafted Icelandic sweaters shall be cut from Icelandic sheep.
  2. Only virgin wool shall be used as material for the sweater (wool that has not been recycled).
  3. The sweater shall be knitted from unspun wool, such as unspun plötulopi wool, thinner léttlopi wool, Álafosslopi wool, etc..
  4. The sweater shall have a circular knitted yoke with pattern shapes and/or pattern benches from the shoulder area to the neck.
  5. The sweater shall be handknitted in Iceland.
  6. The sweater shall be knitted in a circle without stitches.
  7. The sweater shall have an open front or be whole.

Designation of origin

In December 2014, the Icelandic parliament enacted the Product Names Protection Act, which allows for the protection of product names on the basis of origin, territory, or traditional uniqueness. Such laws, often manifested as Designation of Origin, are widespread in Europe, where they are often applied to artisanal products such as French cheese and Spanish ham. The first product name to receive such protection in Iceland was “Icelandic lamb,” which was protected last year.

The proposal suggests that increased demand for Icelandic sweaters has led to the widespread production of the traditional design with its decorative collar. “Increased foreign production of ‘lopapeysa’ sweaters made of foreign wool or synthetics also makes it urgent that buyers have the possibility to differentiate between ‘Icelandic sweaters’ and imitations,” states the proposal.

A Delicate Craft

Ragna Sara Jónsdóttir - Fólk - íslensk framleiðsla

Iceland’s rich creative culture demonstrates that no place is too small or remote to start up a business, manage a company, or to make a difference from. But given the country’s high wages, production, and shipping costs, outsourcing abroad is frequently the only way to ensure a company’s profitable growth.

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New Extension Planned for Prime Minister’s Office

A new extension to the Prime Minister’s office on Lækjargata in downtown Reykjavík is intended to be finished within the next four years, Vísir reports. The new extension is intended to replace the current offices, which are currently located in six different locations downtown.

About thirty proposals were submitted to a competition to design the new extension. The competition coincided with the one hundredth anniversary of Iceland becoming a sovereign state. The winning design was submitted by Kurt og Pí architecture firm.

Guðrún Ingvarsdóttir, the director of the Government Construction Contracting Agency (FSR), says that preparation of the land use plan and design is underway and will take two years. Guðrún explained that exploratory archeological excavations will be carried out on the site of the future extension so that the construction can get underway in a timely fashion when the planning phase has ended. Construction should begin in 2021 and Guðrún says that it should be ready to be moved into in 2023.

The Prime Minister’s office has been bursting at the seams for decades, necessitating five buildings to be rented to house the overflow that can’t be accommodated in the current building. This is, obviously, inefficient and impractical.

Guðrún explained that the new extension, which will be two storeys, will include offices for 60 employees, meeting rooms, reception areas, media facilities and more. There will also be a small parking facility in the basement of the extension for visitors. The committee adjudicating the design competition stated that they believe the design fits well with the original Prime Minister’s Office, which is located in one of the oldest stone houses in the country.

Images of the winning extension proposal can be viewed here.

Natural by Design

Geosea Baths Húsavík

You may not know it but when visiting Iceland, you’re likely to encounter the work of Basalt Architects. The company’s team is behind the Blue Lagoon’s Retreat hotel, the GeoSea Geothermal Sea Baths in Húsavík, and the LAVA Centre volcano museum in Hvolsvöllur, to name a few projects. Basalt Architects have flipped the script in architecture, letting nature lead the way in construction. Established in 2009, the company has revamped Icelandic bathing culture, focusing on putting people into touch with nature.

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Firm Basalt Architects Wins Iceland Design Award

Basalt Architects has been awarded the 2018 Iceland Design Award for what the judges have characterised as the firm’s “contribution to bathing culture in Iceland.” The firm is behind the recent Retreat at the Blue Lagoon, which was co-designed with the Italia design group, the Mývatn Earth Baths, the GeoSea Baths in Húsavík, among many other bathing-related projects (see here). The judges celebrated the firm’s “unique ability to intertwine architecture and landscape” and continued by saying that they “had become a role model in designing nature baths in Iceland.”

“I wish that we deserved these beautiful words from the judging committee,” said Basalt architect Sigríður Sigþórsdóttir in a radio interview. “Bathing culture in Iceland is, of course, an ancient phenomenon. Unfortunately, it’s still rather common for people to cut corners on design when it comes to tourism construction. But I think it comes back to bite the people who do that in the end – it’s short-term thinking.”

“A large portion of tourists have come here to enjoy and experience Icelandic nature,” Sigríður continued. “We try in our design to highlight the individuality of each place, we visit them and get to know their histories. We try to incorporate this into our design and architecture, because each place possesses a mystery and secrets that a person can get to know if they try…You can draw a building that’s like a spaceship that has landed in the lava or a new lava perimeter and leave it to come into its own – it’s a question of methodology.”

The Iceland Design prize was awarded for the fifth time last weekend. In addition to Basalt, the lava centre was awarded Best Investment in Design. Read more about the design prize winners and the shortlisted honorees (in English) here and see Basalt’s extensive projects here.