March 14, 2017

Open call for the MA Design program at the Iceland Academy of The Arts Session 2017–2019: “Reality and Realities”

Listaháskóli Íslands – Iceland Academy of the Arts
Iceland Academy of the Arts.

What are the possibilities of Iceland? How does the local context interact with global conditions? Our design studies focus on the specificity of the island as a means to understand the wider world. Iceland has unique natural resources and geological compositions. Its recent industrial culture has a huge potential for sustainable development. We have access to renewable energy, the ocean as a resource still to explore, a dynamic new forestry, a complex network of rivers and natural water.


Geo-politically the Arctic region, where Iceland is located, is at the centre of international attention. The Academy has an active role to play in the increasing number of international artistic and scientific events focusing on Arctic issues.

In the MA Design we are engaged with mapping the fluxes and potentials of Icelandic local resources, as much as we are aware of the necessity to assess the impact of design and industry on the island and the surrounding ecosystems.

In dialogue with a hands-on and experimental studio culture, the MA Design program is engaged with the value and the topic of Imagination, and the contemporary need to design alternative realities and futures. Designing as the act of proposing, of inspiring others, of pushing and challenging the real—to translate scientific knowledge into visceral being, to materialize and inform new ideas or future realities. An emphasis is put on design as storytelling through the use and study of media as an integral part of contemporary design culture.


Participants in the program will actively shape its culture and reflect on the role of design in the contemporary context.


Students are encouraged to explore innovative ways to display and translate knowledge, to work beyond the self and extend the boundaries of the design studio—investigating all/various media and formats.

In parallel with supporting the students’ individual projects, the collective body of students, faculty and international guest teachers of the MA Design Programme addresses questions about the relevance of various forms of knowledge, exploring processes to generate and share design work in the expanded field/broader contexts.

A concept for new design is a materialized thought, whether it being an artefact, a visual communication process, a new apparel or a spatial intervention.

It is a rapture, an act of intervention into the status quo.

How is the designers’ journey to this rapture point constructed? How does the new proposal interact with the existing world? What is the value of materializing and visualizing alternative realities for particular audiences? In this sense the MA Design Program constantly questions, critiques and redefines the role of design in relation to society. The program is tailored to create opportunities for making the students’ work public, to receive feedback and to build a network through exhibitions, events and publications.

Iceland counts around 330,000 inhabitants with an increasing flow of international visitors and art festivals. This creates certain proximity and allows direct access to essential resources: scientists, labs, institutions, workshops, industry, academics, cultural actors, media. The MA Design Studio communicates and interacts intensively with the surrounding society, offering students a unique opportunity and accessible channels to accelerate their research—a quality that many programs in bigger cities and countries may have a harder time offering, due to heavier infrastructures and more complex social structures. In our experience students, researching themes in the local context of Iceland can deepen their understanding with this first-hand knowledge. Interestingly, good “local” work ends up having a powerful voice globally, as shown by the increasing mediatisation/broadcasting of recent projects from The Iceland Academy of the Arts.


We are inviting students from all fields to enhance their research skills through a unique mix of theory, dialogue, debate, field research in the Icelandic landscape, interdisciplinary network generation, system mapping and hands on material experimentations with the aim to create a library of possibilities.

Gardar Eyjolfsson & Thomas Pausz, MA Design Program Directors 2017–18 on behalf of the Design & Architecture Department at The Iceland Academy of The Arts (LHI).

Thank you!

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