Asa Iceland is an Icelandic jewellery brand creating elegant, modern sterling silver jewellery inspired by the rugged landscape of Iceland. The brand was founded by Ása Gunnlaugsdótir, who has been fascinated with art and craftmanship since she was a young girl.
Nature has always been an essential part of Ása’s life, and is a vital source of inspiration for her beautifully understated, Nordic designs. We chat with Ása about the importance of creating sustainable jewellery, finding inspiration through travel and launching a bridal collection.
Why did you become a jewellery designer?
“Ever since I can remember, I was fascinated by beautiful things. Art, and anything made by hand, intrigued me. In school, arts and crafts were always my favourite subjects. However, school did not offer much artistic freedom and I’ve often felt that I became a designer to finally get the creative freedom I needed. I’ve always preferred to work on smaller scales and related strongly to the precious materials of jewellery. For me, creating beautiful, wearable objects from my imagination and inspirations feels just right.”
Why did you start Asa Iceland?
“After spending a decade in Finland studying and working, I moved to South-Korea to work as an industrial designer. But after a year I felt the pull of jewellery and designing on a smaller scale, so I returned to Iceland to build a career as a jewellery designer and my own brand. Jewellery has always intrigued me, the rich history behind jewellery making and the fact that the urge to decorate the body has been with mankind from the earliest of times. People have associated jewellery with their beliefs and culture, and believed that certain pieces or forms carry magic or strength. There is a beautiful pull in the history of jewellery.”
"Kids in Iceland have wonderful freedom and can more-or-less run free. Our kingdom was outdoors, as long as we came back home for dinner!"
How has growing up in Iceland influenced your designs?
“I grew up in the fishing village of Hafnarfjörður, close to Reykjavík. I spent countless hours with my grandparents, who taught me to carve, sew, knit and crochet. Kids in Iceland have wonderful freedom and can more-or-less run free. Our kingdom was outdoors, as long as we came back home for dinner! My friends and I played in the moss-covered lava fields surrounding the town, jumped between fishing boats in the harbour or took our fishing poles to catch a small haddock from the pier. So, nature has been an essential part of life from early childhood and continues to be vital to my creations.”
Values are hugely important to us at JewelStreet. What are your core brand values at Asa Iceland?
“Sustainability, versatility and quality are my mantras in all my designs. I have a close and strong connection to nature and have the greatest respect for the environment. I want my jewellery to reflect this by creating versatile and wearable pieces that will last. I also take great care in all production methods and choices of material for my designs, only using fully recyclable precious metals and precious stones that are of certified origins.”
"I do my best work in the early morning hours in my downtown studio in Reykjavík, especially on the dark winter mornings we have in Iceland."
What environment do you need to create your best work?
“I do my best work in the early morning hours in my downtown studio in Reykjavík, especially on the dark winter mornings we have in Iceland. There is a quiet stillness in the air that invites reflective thought and creativity. That’s when I like to take the ideas sparked on my travels and move them from paper to prototype.”
Where do you source inspiration for your designs?
“I am genuinely interested in different cultures and new experiences. My longing for authentic experiences has led my travels through Europe to Asia and Africa. For me, travelling is a way to nourish my spirit, and I often find inspiration during my journeys, whether it is a safari in Kenya, meditating in Mumbai or on one of my countless hiking trips in the highlands of Iceland.”
"I often find inspiration during my journeys, whether it is a safari in Kenya, meditating in Mumbai or on one of my countless hiking trips in the highlands of Iceland."
Are there any Asa Iceland clients you are particularly proud of?
“Our products are fairly well known in Iceland and through the years we have had many clients we are proud to have dressed. Recently, we are particularly proud that Iceland’s First Lady has become one of our clients. On a more personal note, I am very proud of the wedding bands that I have made for friends and family. I normally don´t make wedding bands, except for people close to me, and I am so proud to say that all the couples I have made rings for are still together and going strong.”
"This spring we will launch our first our first collection of wedding bands based on one of my most popular and exclusive patterns."
How do you want someone to feel when they wear a piece from Asa Iceland?
“I want my jewellery to empower its wearer, to magnify their personality and be a form of expression. I want them to feel the mystique and power of the Icelandic wilderness, the strength of the glaciers, and force of the waterfalls and volcanos. But also, the tenderness of the delicate fauna that endures in harsh environments.”
What drives you?
“The decision to start my own company and brand was sparked by the strongest urge to create a path for my vision and to have the creative freedom that I have always longed for. Building a brand is a passion to create an identity for your design and give it a global platform.”
Do you have any new collections in the pipeline?
“Through the years, I have been getting more and more customers requesting wedding bands, so this spring we will launch our first collection of wedding bands based on one of my most popular and exclusive patterns.”
Asa Iceland is available to shop on JewelStreet here.