"... even a black beach sparkles"

Evening Standard


Iceland has a population of only 330,000 scattered amongst natural wonders of glaciers, geysers and fjords. Yet its small community is über creative, producing stellar talents: from fashion designer Steinunn to rock band Sigur Rós. Now, its brilliant Northern Lights are flashing onto interior design.

At a time when there is little good news from this beleaguered nation, Ragna Erwin launches Arctic, a new brand, which pays tribute to her country’s luminous natural beauty. The first collection includes leather, fabrics, rugs and throws of understated chic inspired by, and some made, in Iceland. ‘The light is different in texture and colour from anywhere else in Europe,’ says Ragna. ‘The grass is greener, the sky bluer, even a black beach sparkles.’

Arctic is a pioneer in creating luxurious leather for the home from salmon skin. Usually discarded after a fishing haul, the skins are tanned using hydroelectric power and thermal water and then carefully hand-strung in a small cottage factory near the Arctic Circle. The result is a fine leather, durable enough for upholstery and yet, soft for cushions. Timeless and elegant, with an emphasis on impeccable finishing, it is available in seven colourways from shimmering silver and pearl to storm and purple.

Iceland’s natural bounty together with Ragna’s instinctive appreciation of quality and craftsmanship sees wild reindeer hide transformed into sensual rugs of muted hues. Icelandic sheep, left to graze wild in the mountains, yield warm and sumptuous sheepskin rugs. Keen to foster local employment, they are tanned using the same pure method as the salmon skins.

As a designer living in Hafnarfjördur, a quaint fishing port south of Reykjavik, Ragna’s passion for nature runs through her work like a leitmotiv. Arctic’s new fabrics include wool, jute, linen in plains and patterns such as a delicate samphire. There is even bamboo yarn, which is made from pulped bamboo grass and turned into elegant throws.

Ragna’s aim was to revive traditional skills and use Iceland’s eco-friendly resources where possible. This hinterland propels the collection and brings real meaning to its comfort, texture and style.

  • Arctic UK Showroom
  • (Chase Erwin)
  • Ground Floor, Centre Dome
  • Chelsea Harbour Design Centre
  • Lots Road, London
  • SW10 OXE

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