Katrín María Káradóttir, Programme Director of Fashion Design at the Iceland University of the Arts and Steinunn Gunnsteinsdóttir, Sales and Marketing Representative of Atlantic Leather, collaborated with international partners to hold a conference and workshop in Iceland on the use of sea leather and innovation in fashion design.
The conference, which took place during the second week of September 2019, was part of FishSkin, an international collaborative project funded by Horizon 2020, the EU’s largest Research and Innovation programme. Seen as a means to drive economic growth and create jobs, Horizon 2020 has the political backing of Europe’s leaders and the Members of the European Parliament. The aim of the FishSkin project is to develop methods for sustainable and responsible fish skin production, as an alternative to the industrial production of leather.
The Iceland University of the Arts and Atlantic Leather collaborate with designers and researchers from Central Saint Martins, London College of Fashion, The National Museum of Denmark (National museet), The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (Kulturhistorisk Museum), Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Israel, Kyoto Seika University in Japan, Israel-based Production Company Kornit Digital, Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research and Ars Trinctoria, an Italian leather industry research centre. These partners form a diverse network of fashion designers, scientists, technicians and craftspeople from various countries. The group’s research agenda is aimed at the possibilities of innovation in the use of fish skin as a sustainable leather alternative.
The group stayed in Iceland from September 9th to September 13th. The conference started with an open introduction of the project in the lecture hall of the Department of Design and Architecture at the Iceland University of the Arts. Subsequently, the group visited the Icelandic Ocean Cluster. For the remainder of the week, the group resided at the Icelandic Textile Center in Blönduós where Lotta Rahme, a Swedish specialist in traditional fish leather tanning, gave a workshop in traditional methods of tanning and handling of marine leather. The group also visited the factory of Atlantic Leather in Sauðárkrókur where Gunnsteinn Björnsson, General Manager of the company, gave a tour of the facilities and the production taking place there. Furthermore, round table discussions and meetings took place, both in Blönduós and Sauðárkrókur, where the group discussed the future prospects of the project and planned the next steps.
The group will reconvene in Italy in February 2020, and again in Japan in August later that year. It’s exciting to see the development of this urgent project unfold, not least given the urgent benefits of innovation towards sustainable industry.