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Tuesday, 08 September 2009

The Armoury [Vopnabúrið] + Interview with Sruli Recht

Dear Diane and Shaded Viewers,

The Armoury [Vopnabúrið] has opened amongst the retrofitted once-rusting ships and abandoned private fisheries of Reykjavik's Fishpacking District. The new store presents for acquirement Sruli Recht’s arsenal of non-products and the illustrated topo-graphic narratives of Megan Herbert. The Armoury is situated in this isolated area to control client visits so as to allow for a one-on-one interaction with our attendants and to provide them all the time and attention needed.

The collection of Sruli Recht non-products is a gradually growing arsenal of accidents caught somewhere between product design, weapons manufacturing, corroded tailoring and shoe making. Based in Reykjavík, the Armoury presents from the Sruli Recht studio one new “non-product” every month from umbrellas to bulletproof scarves, tables, bags to belts and boots, and incorporating such materials as concrete, diamonds, skin and wool. The first series of illustrated topo-graphic narratives from Megan Herbert are motivated by old Czechoslovakian telegrams, transmitting distressing and beautiful massages. Each shaped timber shield is formed from layers of historical paper, intricate paper cuts and illustrations to tell a story - for people's anguish is one moment in time.

Everything used in putting The Armoury [Vopnabúrið] together was reclaimed from the now abandoned construction sites around reykjavík - from the dried and weather worn-shipping palettes to the long wood scaffolding, old metal frames, steps and wheeled bases.


Martin Kullik



- What takes an individual to shop at "The Armoury"?

Probably determination. We are a little out of the walking centre of town, so to shop here you would be on a mission to find us. We set up out here in order to keep visitation under control, mostly because of our own experiences in other stores. When I am in another store I often find myself waiting to ask questions and feel that the attendant doesn't provide me with what I need or doesn't know what I want to know. The Armoury is set up so that a client is given all the time and information they need, making the experience more personal. The store is in an area called Grandi which used to be the area that the fish were dragged up from the boats. There are very few companies out here still operating directly in the fish catching industry... it is mostly large companies selling or fixing boat parts and nets, or processing fish into oil. Recently some small businesses have moved out here and a younger creative field has been growing. So we dubbed it the Fishpacking District, which is what the Grandi area is known as in Icelandic. So for an Individual to want to shop here there would probably have an established interest in what we are doing and our product line.

- How do you intend to create curiosity?

The store sticks out from the rest of the buildings in the area; that in itself provokes curiosity. Fifty per cent of our walk in customers are looking for rifles... no doubt a response to the name. Together our stock is quite varied, and that really provokes the strongest responses from people coming here or looking for us; it sells my non-products - Umbrellas, wallets, belts, shoes, typefaces, scarves.  Right now we are beginning to leak the early prototypes of the upcoming bag collection - men's and women's bags from concrete, horse-skin, lava stone.  It also has the few garments that we still make. The product design in the store carries a slow dark subtext layered within the function or material in the construction, i.e.. The Umbuster, The Damned bullet proof pocket square, Garrotte necklace, and serves as the platform to present each of our upcoming product releases such as our upcoming eye frames, glass-pens and jewellery. The Armoury sells the illustration work of Megan Herbert, in flat form, on objects, her wallpaper line and gift wrap paper selection. Megan's illustrations take the viewer on a different narrative as she uses old telegrams and message papers, crossing them with her ink work.  This work is mounted on shields, painted on matriarchs dolls and marries themes of anguish, beauty and daily world events.

- Do you see potential in Reykjavik?

Always.  I always see potential.

- What does your associated brand, emblem and logo represent?

Well there is the store name VOPNABÚRIÐ which translates to The Armoury, and in that sense it implies a storehouse or a place to stock up in. Most of the things I make imply some passive allusion to disorder or violence, and Megan’s illustrations have a similar sense of anguish and dark beauty, so when collected together it seemed a fitting name. I’m not sure it is deeper than that.
The typeface used in the logo comes from the typeface Syrillic used in the Sruli Recht logo, a project developed over time and finalised with Jarred Eberhardt from This typeface was made to play with the visual recognition centres of the brain. Primarily the initial idea was to reduce as much of the letter as possible and allow the eye to fill in the gaps and missing lines based on familiarity and suggestion. Taking what was originally a raw attack at chopping and inverting letters, we reformed a more refined logo typeface, still very similar to the original, but playing more on the repetition of letter shapes - where the T and L are the same shape, so is the E and F. It really is similar to the way people respond to the products; the double take moment where they notice the subtext of what they are seeing.

- How far is the sea?

150m from the store.

- Shop or EShop?

Both. We opened the store to create an uncompromising space to show both mine and Megan's work. In a sense it is my flagship store, a place to present the collections exactly as I see them, and also to serve as a forum to experiment with new ideas, and Megan's gallery/store. I have been selling in stores around the world for some years, and a lot on-line, but it really came time to bring it all together in one space in the town I/we live in. So really it is part store, part showroom and part control group. The store also serves as a testbed for new products and really opens it up to releasing individual objects instead of sticking to seasonal product lines sold only during stiffly relegated time periods and only to wholesale buyers. Instead of having to create an entire product campaign, there can just be a small edition of three bags sitting in the store. That is liberating. Though on the other hand an online store allows for the most reach. In the last year there has been a revolution of designers and houses opening online stores and offering direct sale to the retail consumer through independently run online boutiques.  The restrictions of selling only to other stores, on their desired selection and quantity is only a limitation to designers. E-trade allows the designer to sell what they want when they want, rather than be at the mercy of these brief seasonal sales opportunities and the discretion of store buyers. The online store really just frees us up to present and make available what we want to whoever would like it. Although I was hesitant at first to have an online store, Megan and Ben Frost made good arguments for it to be there. So the web-boutique opened almost one year ago mostly with the intent to provide all the information necessary on one page instead of fielding the emails we were receiving. It really just grew out of that.

- Do you believe in ® and ™?

In a sense yes. Intellectual property is massively under-acknowledged in the creative and associated industries. Actually it just makes me sad to see how many companies, small business and design graduates don’t have the common sense and decency to not take ideas from people, let alone have the good sense to search online to see whether that product, idea or name exists. My experience is that this is a largely continental issue, but also quite a problem here in Iceland. It would be nice if the Trade Mark and ® would actually protect you, but when it comes down to it, small designers really just don’t have the legal reach to do anything more than send letters.

- Do you believe in the economic power?

Absolutely. Though I don’t necessarily agree with it.

- Would you deal your designs for food or other resources?

Well you know, in the event of a nuclear holocaust or some other relative apocalypse what will you have left? The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker will be the most important professions. Just about anyone working with their hands in a non electronic mediated world will be invaluable in their skill base. So yes. If i could trade bow ties for rent I would.



Posted by Martin Kullik at 12:10 AM | Permalink


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