JUST OFF the main street in Reykjavik is a little studio belonging to Fabio Del Percio and Anna Giudice, a product designer-artist duo originally from Italy. A little over a year ago they made the move to Iceland to explore the culture of this Nordic isle, and have been turning heads ever since. The local art scene might seem far removed from the Italian way of life, but Fabio and Anna have used their distinctive styles and range of projects to interact and engage with the community.

Fabio and Anna met in Italy ten years ago, and share a background in architecture and design.

A: I studied as an architect, but have done more interior architecture and design. I am a normal architect, but I really don’t like to build new houses. I also studied graphic design; I find it is more creative. I prefer also interior design.
F: I studied at a school for upholstery and furniture design, and we have been working in these fields more or less for the past ten years.

Iceland has provided a new cultural outlook and insight for their work.

F: You can find opportunities here, because it’s quite an open-minded culture and community. The art is more experimental.
A: Ah, yeah. I think the Icelandic have art inside them! Everybody understands - the art, and the art of other people. In Italy, obviously there is a lot of art, but institutional art. It is not very common to have art just like this with everybody. The Icelandic are crazy, completely crazy!
F: Yeah, in a good way.

Anna recently held a shared exhibition on the Faroe Islands.

A: The theme was ‘Utlendingar’ – ‘foreigners’ in Icelandic. But we changed the final letter; it was ‘UtlendingUR’. The pieces are about being a stranger to yourself. We are three girls, one from Faroe, one from Iceland, and one from Italy. We also had an exhibition of the same name in Reykjavik, and I presented two videos and a performance. In Iceland and the Faroe Islands people are very curious. This is not very common in Italy, but here they wanted to interact with the performance. I lay under a blanket on the floor while visitors came and prodded me. Ophelia was my inspiration, because she is crazy. Ok, she is not crazy, but a lot of people thought she was. A journalist told me, ‘Ah, it’s the first performance for 5 years in Faroe!’.

Fabio’s work has also been encouraged by his experience in Iceland.

F: Icelandic hay inspired me because farmers use white plastic to cover the stacks. It reminded me of poufs. In the countryside and in between the big cities you can find hay. The Hey* poufs [from Hver Design] were exhibited at the 2011 Milan design festival. Then Design Milk featured me on their blog, and I also presented them here in Iceland at DesignMarch last year.
A: I think after Milan it went viral; a lot of people from Japan and America called up to ask about the work.
F: I also helped the designer Fiona Cribben to explore ideas she had about shoes and design. Sometimes it’s very difficult to create something with leather; you never know how it will take. It is stronger than other materials and you have to sew it in the right way. We linked the process of doing it in this way, and the idea you have in mind. The result was good.

Any plans to work on a collaboration together?

A: Yes, for DesignMarch, Iceland’s annual design event. I try to capture sound and make graphic art from this. Together we would like to have a project integrating sound with furniture. For the moment it is just an idea, but we would like to explore it.

What about future plans?

F: We both still have some projects in Italy. So this also gives us the opportunity to travel.
A: I would like to stay in Iceland forever, but travel for work and for art. We are both learning Icelandic as well. It is not easy - the grammar is unbelievable!
F: It’s full of rules... There are so many exceptions that they become the rule! It’s a challenge.
A: There is a free newspaper every morning, and Fabio reads Icelandic at breakfast. It’s very funny.
F: We want to do more work for people in Iceland. We also want to understand the community and join it ourselves.
A: It’s a unique world here. It’s very strange. I like it. I like the connection with the musicians, the artists, and the Icelandic style itself.

Fabio: Hay*
Anna: 7vicocrema

Interview: Siobhan Frost
Edited by: Rebbeca Ryan

One of Fabio's furniture pieces Hey*, from Hver designA video and performance that tells the story of madness and death. (Anna is under the blankets). Faroe Islands, 2011. By Anna GIUDICEArtwork against the Berlusconi government, its policy of sex, money and power. Reykjavik, 2011. By Anna GIUDICE