Pétur Örn Eyjólfsson
Under normal circumstances we would undoubtedly have preferred to meet over a good cup of coffee, but, due to recommendations from the Icelandic government, Pétur Örn Eyjólfsson and I agree that it is safest to get together through a computer screen. We are, like so many others, working from home these days, and Pétur says that he has almost forgotten what a normal working day is like for him, without the everyday challenges posed by a worldwide pandemic and the ban on public gatherings. "I find it best to start early in the morning, working on ideas and drawings. Then, around one or two o'clock, I’m ready for more practical things, like answering emails and having meetings."
After almost two decades living abroad, Pétur, along with his family, moved back to Iceland at the end of 2018 and founded a new design studio, ErrOrr. The name, he says, refers to the important approach of seeing mistakes as an opportunity. "It's often the case when you look back over the process involved in a particular project, that you realise there were a lot of mistakes, and that they were often the biggest factor in moving things forward and shaping the outcome."
After a college degree in photography, Pétur took the decision to study architecture. "Something opened up for me, some kind of connection to architecture – that it could be more creative and visual than I had thought and not just about building regulations, standards and stress." He says that until then his view of the role of the architect had been shaped by a rather limited idea of the field. "My dad was an architect and I was brought up with a certain view of the profession, and it took me a long time to perceive just how complex the role of the architect could be," explains Pétur. "In many ways, it is a flexible, open and creative discipline, which has provided the space for me to work on diverse projects on a variety of scales."
During his studies at KADK in Copenhagen, Pétur met his main collaborator through the years, Søren Oskar Duvald. Together they ran a design studio alongside their studies, which later evolved into the studio ÖRN DUVALD in 2013. The collaboration has engendered various projects, everything from architecture and installations to product, lighting and furniture design. Their most recent product, Blue Knock Down, White Knock Down – a chair built from Solid Textile Boards and two steel pipes – was premiered at the exhibition Re-think, Re-use, Re-duce at the Danish Architecture Centre - BLOX in Copenhagen. The duo continue to work together extensively and Pétur goes on regular work trips to Denmark. "I have always been a collaborator and almost everything I have done is shared with others," he says, explaining that most of their work has come about through design collaborations, exhibitions and private commissions. "In the end, it is just a fact that you work longest on things you enjoy."
‘In the end, it is just a fact that you work longest on things you enjoy’
Pétur Örn Eyjólfsson, 2020
"Although I don't know whether it's better or worse to have folklore, dramatic highlands, glaciers and waterfalls as part of one's baggage, still this backdrop is in some way woven through you, whether you like it or not."
Pétur Örn Eyjólfsson, 2020
For Pétur, the flatness of the Danish landscape brought up memories of the dramatic Icelandic nature that he had previously taken for granted and he says he is happy to have returned home where he experiences nature as a larger part of himself. "I always feel like there is such a short gap between opportunities in Iceland, that there is more activity and people are up for trying new things. And although I don't know whether it's better or worse to have folklore, dramatic highlands, glaciers and waterfalls as part of one's baggage, still this backdrop is in some way woven through you, whether you like it or not."