The Icelandic idiom means Ten Drops, referring mostly to coffee but sometimes wine.
And it’s an essential philosophy of Minarc, the award-winning design firm best known for blurring boundaries between inside and out. In this issue, you will also find an intersection of cultures, Iceland and Southern California, where principals Erla and Tryggvi first arrived nearly two decades ago.
In Iceland, natives share a formidable bond to the natural environment, but also to neighborliness, becoming essential to one’s livelihood during long, harsh winters. Across continents, Minarc creates spaces with this inclusive community vision — to be lived in, shared — from a stargazing hotel lobby on a UNESCO Heritage Site to a sunlit multi-gen home in LA.
Also in this issue, functional minimalism gives way to new ideas like Plús Hús, a sustainable Accessory Dwelling Unit created as a solution to California’s housing crisis. The structure is not merely a teeny homage to cool Nordic design, but a resourceful blueprint for new California urbanism where dreams begin in the backyard.
The YIMBY moment has arrived. The name stands for “Yes In My Backyard” and is a grassroots movement to make housing affordable and accessible to far more people. Some of its biggest advocates in California include Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, while YIMBY-ism is rapidly spreading throughout the country in places like Boulder, Minneapolis and Austin.
The YIMBY movement aims to help end the housing shortage and ease the skyrocketing number of homeless people. In Los Angeles alone, the homeless population exploded from 32,000 to roughly 55,000 in just six years.
And even when people do find housing, skyrocketing real estate values mean they’re often pushed farther and farther from the centers of cities, forcing long commutes. Those hours on the road not only rob people of time, they also dramatically increase carbon emissions.
Minarc has designed Plús Hús to offer homeowners a way to become an agent of social change, starting in their own backyard. With recent Accessory Dwelling Unit legislation, homeowners can now legally help alleviate California’s housing shortage, and Plús Hús offers a low-maintenance, environmentally responsible way to do this.
The 320-square-foot home comes delivered completely flat-packed and is assembled on site, easing delivery and construction processes as well as overall cost.
During the 14th annual HD Awards ceremony in New York at Cipriani 25, Hospitality Design (HD) magazine announced its project and product winners. Nearly 1,000 submissions from across the globe were considered in 23 categories, including Luxury and Upscale Hotels and new categories like Restoration, Wellness and Nightlife. Minarc won top prize in the Upscale Guest Rooms/Suites category for the new Ion City Hotel!
Iceland is one of the world’s prime spots to see the aurora borealis. Here’s a quick guide to one of the world’s most dazzling natural performances.
1. The Northern Lights often appear to shoot out of mountains like lava from a volcano, but that it’s merely an optical illusion. The closest that the Northern Lights ever come to Earth is 80 kilometers above the Earth's surface. In comparison, a plane flies about 10 kilometers above the surface.
2. Auroras are relatively dim, and the redder lights often marks the limit of what the human retina can detect. Cameras, however, are often more sensitive, and with a long-exposure setting and a clear dark sky, viewers can get some spectacular shots.
3. The Vikings believed the fiery ring was a bridge to the afterlife.
4. You have to look north to see the Northern lights. (Doh!) Make sure you know which direction is north. The Aurora is quite unpredictable and can be fleeting. When the sky is dim, it can look like a wispy gray or white cloud so be careful not to miss it.
5. The floor-to-ceiling windows at Minarc’s Ion Adventure Hotel are designed for optimal aurora borealis viewing.
Knitting in Iceland is serious stuff. The country’s famed wool — sourced from sheep originally brought to Iceland by the Vikings more than 1,000 years ago — is known for its combination of inner and outer fibers and distinctive natural colors.
Minarc has taken that passion for the traditional craftsmanship and reimagined it through a contemporary design at Ion City Hotel. There, knitting stitches are magnified to create a graphic pattern used on blankets throughout the hotel.
Minarc has taken the concept even further by fixing the pattern onto the ceiling, which, in turn, casts an even larger pattern of the stitching onto the floor.
Ion City Hotel was recently featured in The Australian, which notes, “Scandi-chic guestrooms offer moody views and ready access to the city’s cafes, bars and restaurants.”
Architectural Digest recently described Ion Adventure as an “architecturally striking, rural retreat [where] gray-and-green-tone interiors reflect the Nordic landscape.”
Winged Victory: As of June, Icelandair has brought back its international service from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Reykjavik.
Our first Plus Hus has broken ground in Santa Monica, the beach city where Minarc is based.
In other tiny-but-mighty news: Cities across the US are banning single-use straws.
Zero-waste confirms its place in the lexicon as an eponymous bistro pops up in NYC.
The heat is on at The Nordic Museum in Seattle, which recently opened with a century-old pop-up sauna as part of its exterior.
We create sustainably built, high-functioning homes designed for people to connect — with others, with the outdoors, or just with themselves.
At our latest project in Mar Vista, we've designed a home that will go up two stories and down one. The 8,000-square-foot house will include seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms and a basement level that features a screening room, gym, au pair living quarters and a wine cellar. Like all of our homes, the outside is just as important as what goes on within: Here, glass walls disappear to invite gardens, the pool area and courtyards as completely livable environments.
The thermostat is perennially set to 70° in Southern California, so only warm, open spaces will do. This is the philosophy of principals Erla Dögg Ingjaldsdóttir and Tryggvi Thorsteinsson, who decamped from Iceland to Los Angeles some 20 years ago, creating a portfolio of projects that distinctively soften modern edges and encourage togetherness. Their designs honor a respect for nature and a bond toward community, which are ingrained in Nordic sensibilities, shaped by long, dark winters. Today, it’s the award-winning Southern California blueprint for Minarc’s new wave of sustainable, connected living.
We are makers, builders, designers and dreamers with a passion for collaboration in creating sustainable, human-centered spaces. Together, we bring a diversity of experience and knowledge to every phase of each project.