An art teacher for around 20 years, Sveinbjörg Hallgrímsdóttir had a long held ambition to start a design company. Based in North East Iceland, Sveinbjörg established Vorhus Living in 2007 which produces a wide range of original design items and homeware products. Aiming to produce beautiful, environmentally friendly items, Sveinbjörg’s designs are inspired by Icelandic nature and wildlife. The company name is also linked to this theme which loosely translates as ‘the house of Spring’.
Observing the successes of companies in Denmark and Finland, Sveinbjörg felt Iceland could also have success in applying original designs to textile and household products. These countries share peripheral locations, beautiful landscapes, natural resources and manpower. Sveinbjörg has proven herself right as the company now employs four people, sells online and at retailers throughout Iceland.
In her approach to business, Sveinbjörg is careful to work with a range of suppliers where she can source quality at the right price. It can take time and experimentation to find the best supplier that works well with companies on the scale of Vorhus Living. “You have to have a similar price to others. If your price is too high products won’t sell, even if you have the quality,” Sveinbjörg explains.
For Sveinbjörg, her creative approach is instinctual rather than being led by fashion. “Fashion doesn’t stay for long…I look for beauty…I work with my own instincts,” according to Sveinbjörg. She describes how one of her most popular ranges ‘garden party’ was conceptualised: “I sat by my window and I could see the trees with red berries and a lot of birds eating. I had wooden plates leftover. I took a plate and drew on it. Later on I could start to cut and that was the start of the garden party,” Sveinbjörg explains.
Sveinbjörg also emphasises the importance of building networks, both through social media and face to face. For example she connects with her customers through Facebook, traditional advertising and attending design fairs.
Vorhus Living designs were all originally based on Sveinbjörg’s own work. She has recently also begun collaborating with other designers. Sveinbjörg’s own designs are branded Vorhus Living by Sveinbjörg and other designers working with the company can release their own lines under the Vorhus name. This approach aims to help the company to grow and sustain itself, as well as assist new designers apply their ideas and bring new products to market.