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Soul of a Nation

by Brian Fichtner in Design on 03 March 2008

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“Soul of a nation” is an ongoing project by the Icelandic designer Gudrun Lilja Gunnlaugsdottir, a partner in the firm Studiobility. From objects as varied as a chair, a cabinet, a coffin, a broom, or a lamp, “Soul of a nation” gives three-dimensional weight to the personalities of fellow Icelanders Gudrun has grown to know. The project began in 2004 with “Visual inner structure,” a chair representing a woman Gudrun characterizes as warm, strong, and selfless, though giving in such a way that she has lost much of herself.

At the end of January, she debuted a second piece in the series at ToolsGalerie in Paris. Titled “Curiosity Cabinet,” the design represents a farmer that she described thusly: “To my mind, the farmer is solid, full of wisdom and full of personal treasures. Somehow, in conversations, he always has a way of looking at matters from many sides and pointing out aspects not noticed before.”

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With 15 people chosen, and the forms they will take mapped out, the length of her project has largely been determined by the expense and complexity of the designs. Nevertheless, Gudrun is on a tight schedule; “Soul of a nation” will be the subject of an exhibition at the Reykjavik Art Museum in 2009.

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