An omen is an event regarded as a portent (of good or evil).

As we explore the world around us, our senses process information and experiences that become thoughts, sensations, feelings and emotions by way of our cognitive abilities.

It seems that historically, some people assumed specific roles within their community. In ancient times these specialists were called diviners – interpreting signs or omens to foretell the future. An omen signified change and served as a correlation between a present event and a future event.Perhaps these were people who shared similar traits; being very perceptive of their surroundings and having a need to express their vision of future and/or alternative realities.

The omen was quite often considered either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. One cannot help but question the dualistic nature of such thinking which may be misleading in our times. ‘Bad’ omens are all around us, such as alarming reports that question our relationship to the environment. In such circumstances it is quite easy to become pessimistic about the future.

But things are never quite finite, they are never only or entirely ‘good’ or ‘bad’. The world seems much more complex than that. A complex flux of a lot of things that either complement one another or conflict with one another, resulting in this reality we find ourselves in. Perhaps the biggest challenge for each of us is to find his or her place within all this complexity and to engage with its problems and potentials in all their glory.

To adapt or mitigate?
To question or solve?
To inspire or reveal?

It is refreshing to see all our four graduates making attempts at this; engaging with the world around them and step by step finding their place. Their projects are humble beginnings, brimful of potential for the future to come.

For instance, we can see the graduating students questioning categories. An exploration of undesired plants that grow wild here in Iceland; an inquiry into why some plants are labelled weeds and others are not. Ásta Þórisdóttir’s Arfists celebrates the properties of weeds and their nutritional value for the human body, in a a playful narrative that is inteded to engage with a target audience.

In Sigríður Birna Matthíasdóttir’s project Do It For the Gram we see an exploration of the body trapped between realities; in a limbo between our physical reality and virtual reality. This is an inquisitive project that plays with and questions our ideas about identity in an age where the line between the ‘virtual’ and ‘physical’ are becoming ever more blurred.

In Elín Margot Ármannsdóttir’s Deb[eat]e we find an everyday ritual; the dinner setting, being used as a platform for debating food related topics such as gene editing, synthetic food and cannibalismby bringing together specialists and stakeholders in our food system, establishing new networks and a collective dialogue about urgent issues of today.

And finally, Valerio Di Giannantonio’s project opens up a possible future scenario where dire levels of pollution have urged humans to adapt to environmental changes. Here we find a speculative design proposal that involves algae being spun into textiles for clothes and/or a second skin, thus exploring the possibility of a situation where humans and algae live in a symbiotic relationship.

Please explore the space and enjoy the rest of the night.

I welcome you to the MA Design, Explorations and Translations Graduation Exhibition OMEN.
Garðar Eyjólfsson, MA Design Explorations & Translations Program Director.


Ásmundarsalur, Freyjugata 41, 101 Reykjavík.
04.05. – 19.05.2019

The 4th of May at 20:00 in Ásmundarsalur graduate students of the MA Design, Explorations and Translations programme of the Iceland University of the Arts will open their Graduation Exhibition OMEN. The exhibition ends on May 19. Everyone is welcome and the exhibition is free of admission.

There are four students graduating, coming from various (design) backgrounds. They are:

Sigríður Birna Matthíasdóttir
Elín Margot Ármannsdóttir
Ásta Þórisdóttir
Valerio Di Giannantonio

Graduation Project Teachers are:

Alexander Graham Roberts, Programme Director MFA in Performance Arts (IUA)
Elín Hansdóttir, artist
Eva María Árnadóttir, fashion designer
Marteinn Sindri Jónsson, philosopher, musician and radio producer
Kolbrún Þóra Löve, visual artist
Thomas Pausz, critical designer

MA Design Explorations & Translations Programme Director: Garðar Eyjólfsson
Visual Communication: Kolbrún Þóra Löve

FiloSkin – Valerio Di Giannantonio

Will our textiles be made out of living matter in the near future?

By way of careful and practical biomaterial research FiloSkin is a speculative project that proposes a thread made of H. Pluvialis, a certain microalga that is capable of producing oxygen, filtering CO2 from the air and respond to changes in the environment by taking on different colours.

We can imagine a future where this thread is what textiles are made of, forming intricate biomaterial networks, capable of interacting with our bodies through a symbiotic relationship with the skin. If FiloSkin would become a reality it might serve to mitigate environmental problems while adapting humans to future pollution conditions.

Do It for the Gram – Sigríður Birna Matthíasdóttir

Do It for the Gram is a design project concerned with ‘the second self’ and fashion on the internet. The second self is a term that encompasses the ways in which we present and perceive ourselves in virtual spaces while conventional fashion serves to facilitate how we express and perform our physical bodies.

How the body is dressed or undressed is equally important in the virtual world as in the physical world. However, the virtual body is a technological body – a cyborg – and is therefore manipulated and perfected much more easily than the biological body. Furthermore, the physical world is not immune to events taking place in the virtual world. On the contrary, the physical is always at stake in, and subject to transformations by way of, the virtual.

Deb[eat]e: Would You Like Some More Human? – Elín Margot Ármannsdóttir

Deb[eat]e is an event-based platform designed to provoke debate on the future of our food. Each event revolves around a shared meal, a menu and other food related props that narrate the subject of the debate in a future scenario. This platform connects stakeholders of our food systems; creating exchanges, exploring prospective collaborations while communicating the discussion with a broader audience.

Deb[eat]e: Would you like some more human?  is inspired by cultured meat. Instead of slaughtering animals for meat, cultured meat is produced by cultivating animal cells. What if human cells are cultivated, thus creating cultured human meat? Humans would become a source of food. The human body also offers milk, blood, bacteria and yeast that can be used in cooking. Products of the human body are at the centre of each of the bites on offer.

Find us online:

Bon apétit!

The Arfist – Ásta Þórisdóttir

The Arfist is a one woman search and rescue team, promoting self-sufficient food production – using weeds. She is a specialist in finding, identifying, harvesting and utilising plants commonly considered undesirable. The Arfist visits people in their home gardens and neighbourhoods, facilitating weeding sessions and explaining how to embrace the undesired.