The Studlar Columns cardboard wall has pinpointed key concepts of modernity and put them together in a design which is functional, flexible, foldable, and environmentally friendly.  Shipped in flat-packs of 15 coloured and white box units, Studlar Columns makes design meet DIY half-way. In providing its owner with the tools while leaving room for creativity, it invites to a radical change of the terms and conditions in the distribution of artistic commodities. 

“In the studio spaces at college there is a constant fight over the separators used to mark one’s corner. Despite them being ugly and difficult to use there never seems to be enough of them. That was the trigger for this construction. The idea was to produce light, affordable screens with which we could easily divide the studio into sections.” says Fridgerdur Gudmundsdottir at The Iceland Academy of Art and Design.

Apart from literally and metaphorically putting modern life in a box, the product brings together two significant elements of Icelandic life and culture. The boxes are unmodified replicas of the boxes used by Kassagerdin-Central Packaging, Iceland’s biggest producer of boxes for the fishing industry. “It was fascinating to go into the factory and use these enormous machines for a completely different purpose.” says Gudmundsdottir. Secondly, the construction owes its name and shape to the characteristic Icelandic Basalt Columns, a rock formed under eruption in ancient times which now constitute a captivating feature of the Icelandic landscape. 

Apart from being loved by the art students, the ‘columns’ have since been embraced by a number of people for a range of purposes. An Icelandic architect is currently using the ‘paper rocks’ to separate spaces in his office, while a clothes shop uses them for a 90 degree changing room. “It invites to creativity beyond the assembling as you can paint on it, draw on it, and attach things to it. When you’re done, you recycle it and make something else.” smiles Gudmundsdottir.

A success nationally, Gudmundsdottir is now looking to launch the ‘Icelandic rock’ overseas. “The architectural trend of the past 10 years has been to open up spaces, to strive towards open offices and living environments. I think we are now witnessing a closing of these spaces through a visual separation of different areas with different purposes.” she says.   

The article was published in the Forum AID Awards Supplement 2009