Through the Mink’s Eyes – Design, Process, Production

Design is all around, shaping our daily lives and behaviour. The meaning and goal of design varies greatly, from creating a commercially successful product to influencing social progress. Some design covers both of these aspects, but in most cases, it is the end user or target market who has the greatest influence on the form and appearance of the design. A significant change in focus can be discerned in most design today, where respect for human impact on nature is used as a guiding principle and the role of experience is paramount. The importance of the designer’s social responsibility is also ever increasing, as well as the end user’s role in effecting change.

The exhibition Through the Mink’s Eyes is centred on the design process from concept to final product. The exhibition explores the design and development of the Mink Camper (known as Minkurinn in Icelandic) as an example of Icelandic design and production, where the design is thought through from start to finish. The idea for the look and form of the Mink comes from the American Teardrop Trailer of the 1930s. About four years ago, this idea came to Ólafur Gunnar Sverrisson and Kolbeinn Björnsson, leading them to work together on structural prototypes for the trailer. In collaboration with the Swedish design studio Jordi Hans Design, the idea was then developed further and worked on by industrial designer Kaesar Amin as his industrial design master’s project at the University of Jönköping. The interior design was in the hands of industrial designer Emilía Borgþórsdóttir, with Ólafur Gunnar Sverrisson overseeing the design as a whole. The Mink is manufactured by Mink Campers ehf. in Hafnarfjörður.

One of the guiding principles in the design process of the Mink was to create the best possible connection to nature, based on the traditional outdoor camping experience, where modern comfort and luxury are woven in seamlessly. Despite its modest form, the trailer is equipped with all the comforts which good accommodation has to offer, such as a kitchenette, internet connection, sound system, heating, a well-made bed and, last but by no means least, a good view that can be enjoyed from inside the Mink. Nevertheless, it was essential that the trailer evoked the primal feelings associated with camping. The title of the exhibition then alludes to the round eyes on the side of the camper itself, allowing the traveller to view nature from a certain angle – seeing it through the Mink’s eyes.

The exhibition showcases everything from initial sketches to drawings of the final product. The necessity of giving thought to every detail in the design process, as well as allowing solutions much needed time to mature, can be clearly seen in the exhibition. The aim is to demonstrate how an idea evolves in collaboration, as different knowledge and perspectives merge into the final outcome. An important part of designing the Mink was interdisciplinary collaboration and conversation between experts from different professions, where every single participant contributed to the idea development and the overall process. Another vital factor in the look, making and philosophy of the Mink is man’s connection and closeness to nature.

The exhibition Through the Mink’s Eyes is about product design, about new ideas built on an old foundation, about the experience of closeness to nature, about luxury and lifestyle but also simplicity, about technology and progress, communication and interdisciplinary solutions. It is also about how an idea is developed through a process from an initial idea until the Mink was born as a full-fledged prototype, ready to bring more units into being, through production.

Exhibition curators and designers: Elísabet V. Ingvarsdóttir and Magnús Ingvar Ágústsson.