The opening of an Icelandic design exhibition in Paris, June 2nd, 2004.
Minister of Industry and Commerce, Valgerdur Sverrisdottir.
As Minister of Industry, I have in recent years witnessed and taken part in exciting developments in all fields of design. It has been my aim to do what I can to promote and support this growing field in our national culture.
The opening of an Icelandic design exhibition here at VIA in Paris is for me an important dream come true. The venue could not be more appropriate, for it was in this city, at the World Fair of 1900, that examples of traditional Icelandic architecture and objects of design were exhibited abroad for the very first time.
In the century that has passed since this first Icelandic design exhibition, Iceland has been through an unprecedented social and economic transformation. The driving force in this process has been the great pioneer and innovative spirit of the Icelandic people, a characteristic shaped by a long-lasting struggle with the strong forces of nature. These two things, the influence of nature and the spirit of progress, we can clearly sense in the work of Icelandic designers.
The curators of the exhibition (Páll Hjaltason and Steinunn Sigurðardóttir) have chosen as a theme the three primary colors of white, red and blue, that Iceland and France share as their national symbol. They have related the colors to phenomenon’s in Icelandic nature in a way that reveals something of its unusual character: white as the ocean, blue as the snow, red as sky.
For a nation with a relatively short tradition in architecture and design, presenting a exhibition in one of the world’s main centers of culture is not a small task. I would like to thank the organizers of VIA for making this event possible, by providing Icelandic design with a venue of such prestige. I thank the curators and Form Island (Organization of Designers in Iceland), for their excellent work in preparing the exhibition and taking such good care of all aspects. In addition to the financial support provided by the Ministry of Industry, contributions came from the City of Reykjavik and the Trade Council of Iceland. I would like to thank the Embassy of Iceland in Paris, the ambassador and her staff and the staff of the Trade Council in Iceland for their important work that made this all possible.
Last but not least, I thank all the designers and architects presented in the exhibition. May this event help them to seek new contacts and break new grounds in their creative work.