2nd June, 2004

Icelandic National (Web) Team

In what will be the first of millions of posts relating to my love of all things Icelandic, I’ve decided to flag up some excellent websites built in the land where Macs are as important as food, and the internet was introduced way back in 1912 (well, they were well ahead of the UK). Icelandic design continually impresses me - whatever the field - and young developers are readily embracing current standards in their work.

Icelanders are very forward-thinking, and quickly embrace new technologies. The web is no exception, and I’m seeing an increasing number of beautifully designed, standards-compliant sites reaching out from the island. A couple of the ones listed below have already impressed the global design community, and for good reason. Anyway, here are a select few that I’ve gleaned inspiration from over the past year or so.

I apologise in advance that you will not be able to understand most of the content, though you can take solace in the fact that my own pitiful Icelandic stretches as far as naming animals, ordering beer, and a variety of swear-words and explicit terminologies. Well, you gotta cover the basics - right?

Icelandic National Team

National Team screenshot

Icelandic National Team, as featured on the CSS Vault is a stunning example of intricate CSS in a tight space. Sadly, only Icelanders understand what’s going on, but basically Icelandic National Team is a K10K-esque forum paying lip service to skilful and creative design work, and nothing to do with the national football (Soccer) team. Sure, the site uses tables where absolutely necessary, but otherwise it’s a beautifully muted affair worthy of further scrutiny, and advanced Icelandic lessons.

Egill Hardar

Egill Harder screenshot

Egill Hardar presents some cracking websites within his folio (find the link Vefnadur to view screenshots), and he’s a key player in the Icelandic National Team, along with Ragnar. Not much background info on his site, but the work speaks for itself.

Design Plastik

Hjalti screenshot

More bloggy is Design Plastik member Hjalti Jakobsson’s site, featuring some great photographs, and a wonderful folio section. Again, the site validates as XHTML, and keeps you clicking around regardless of language barriers.

AAJ-Design

AAJ Design screenshot

Currently studying at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts, Adalgeir’s personal site showcases some delicious print design and web work, and again it’s great to see such young designers gaining the trust of big firms such as Habitat and Apple.

Radio Reykjavik

image

Radio Reykjavik is a station that plays rokk’n'roll music that falls under the catagory of being classic rock. Whilst I much prefer Iceland’s Radio X 977, or “Neeer-shuure-shuure” (hryggur!) station, this site is simple but sexy, and was given a Web Standard Award by Johan Edlund, who stated “The Icelandic language must be a designers dream”. Sure Johan, it looks beautiful, and indeed sounds beautiful, but you try learning it, mate!

Onrush Design

Onrush design grab

The website of the talented Herra (Mister) Ragnar Freyr Palsson, Onrush Design has had a fresh make-over since I first found it back in early 2003. Ragnar is a one man design studio based in Reykjavik, specialising in graphic design for print and screen, and has been commissioned by many international brands for Iceland-specific work, including Apple.

So, I’m not suggesting all of the above validate as strict XHTML, or break any existing moulds. However, having followed Icelandic visual art for nearly ten years, I’m all too aware of how mainland Europe and the USA have pretty much ignored the incredible contemporary art coming out of this sparsely-populated, isolated land for far too long. With the global nature of the web, I’m hoping the Icelanders can stake a claim at the web development round table sooner rather than later, and attain some merit for the aesthetic quality of their design. Sure, language will always be a barrier (designers can’t be expected to translate everything) but great design communicates on a much higher level.

Apologies to Icelanders for substituting your alphabet for English characters - takk fyrir!

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