Pattern Pulp

Creative City Tour: Reykjavik, Iceland


Today we’re featuring Reykjavik through the eyes of Megan Herbert. Herbert is an illustrator and writer living in Reykjavik, Iceland. She writes television and film scripts, designs gift-wrapping paper, and produces two and three-dimensional artworks laced with narrative. You can read her ramblings and see her scribblings here.

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1. Tie Mural – 32 Laugavegur

How-To-Tie-A-Tie Mural. Genius. Once the winter darkness has descended upon this northern rock, even the most elementary of dressing procedures can trigger mass confusion. Office workers of Reykjavík, regard ye carefully. Located just across the road from clothes Mecca Ein Vera and local record haven Smekkleysa.

2. Tíu Dropar – 27 Laugavegur

Tíu Dropar is the home of delicious baked goodies, an unparalleled latte, and an olde-worlde charm that has hipsters and grandmas alike tripping over their bowling shoes to secure a table. Lovely wallpaper and antique maps of Reykjavik adorn the walls too. Pff. As if you needed another reason to go there.

3. Theresa Himmer’s Lava Drop at Aftur – 23 Laugavegur

Teresa Himmer’s shimmery sequin-scapes pepper the walls of downtown Reykjavík. This single lava drop flags stop three of our walking tour. Aftur is the favoured fashion house of Icelandic style queens partial to the gargantuan-heels-spindly-legs-voluminous-tops genre. And oh my, do they ever do it well here.

4. Turn left down Klapparstígur and you will pass the site of much mourned bar Sirkus, closed in 2007 to a chorus of drunken shanties of regret. In its place is another of Theresa Himmer’s glittering offerings, the Glacier. Wander past this towards our next stop…

5. Bókin, Klapparstígur 25-27

Once upon a time there was an eccentrically devoted second-hand bookseller who loyally and lovingly stacked books onto carefully arranged shelves as surely as night followed day. And then, one day, he stopped. And commenced to construct rickety towers of pre-loved tomes on every available inch of floor space, in windows, on tabletops, anywhere he could really. Bókin is the result. Bless.

6. Turn onto Hverfisgata and head down the hill. You will pass a green space whose surrounding walls feature the work of the local graffitiatti. My personal favourite is the Stigis painting. Buildings piled upon buildings piled upon buildings.

7. Hardfiskur stack at Kolaportið

On Saturday or Sunday, follow Hverfisgata all the way downhill to Kolaportið, a market of the true trash and treasure variety. Food does not abound. Unless you are after root vegies, frozen seafood (including whale, gasp!), or hardfiskur, Iceland’s answer to jerky. It is fish air dried and unadorned and much like Vegemite or Facebook, you either like it or loathe it. Here is a pretty patterned mountain of the stuff.

8. Just around the corner on Tryggvagata is the Tollhúsið, where customs officials charge locals obscene amounts for the privilege of receiving mailed goods. I can only hope the funds were funnelled into the creation of the marvellous tiled mural out the front. It is truly lovely.

9. Around the corner on Austurstræti you will find Jacobsen. Many go there for crazed all-night parties and star-studded DJ line-ups. Personally, I prefer the Metropolis-esque stylings of the building’s shell.

10. Army of drink bottles at Friða Frænka – Vesturgata 3

I learned in Icelandic class the other day that Frænka doesn’t mean ‘aunty’ as I first thought, but rather ‘non-specific female relative’. Somewhat less catchy, I’m sure you’ll agree. Nonetheless, it is packed with all sorts of treasures. ‘Pon two storeys, replete with many glories.

11. Vopnaburið – Hólmaslóð 4

I feel compelled to reveal my connection with this particular place of abounding goodness and last stop on my Reykjavik walking tour.  Follow the harbour all the way around… past the moored fishing vessels getting fresh paint jobs, past the Sea Baron and his lobster soup… to the heart of the Fishpacking District and you shall find Vopnaburið (meaning The Armoury) – my own store, which I run with my man, Sruli Recht. This is one of my illustrated shields, featuring a traditional Icelandic embroidery pattern. Do come and visit.

The full set of photos can be viewed here.

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