Shopping for local treasures anyone?

Hús Handanna Icelandic Art & Design shop is an ambitious business venture: a shop originally set up to promote local arts, crafts and design. It was opened in June 2010 by an organisation called MAKE by Þorpið. The shop was meant to be a platform for the local group of MAKE designers to sell their products.

The name of the shop is a play on words. The title of the novel, House of spirits by Isabel Allende, can be translated as:  Hús andanna. So, Hús handanna, (same name, + one h) literally translates to “House of hands”.

Today, designs from Austurland are still prominent in the store. The gallery displays a selection of paintings and ceramics by local artists, handcrafted clothing, and items made from local resources such as reindeer leather, antlers, and wood from the forests of Austurland. The shop also includes work of designers from all over Iceland. Local food products are likewise an important and tasty part of the store’s selection.

Since 2016 the Tourist Info for Austurland in East Iceland has also been located in Hús Handanna. Not surprisingly, the shop´s stock increased in maps and souvenirs relating to Austurland.

Lára Vilbergsdóttir has been a part of the management of Hús handanna from the beginning.

“We are located on the busiest crossroads in the eastern part of Iceland. Everyone travelling around the area passes by here. We want to welcome our guests and provide a personal service – fitting to each individual´s wishes, and giving information on hidden secrets and local treasures – in the spirit of the image we are creating for Austurland as a destination for travellers.”

At the Information centre a “storytelling” map covers a whole wall. There, one can find extra titbits about stories from the area. Guests can look at the map on site while enjoying light refreshments.

“We want to share our lifestyle with our guests” Lára says, “the slow-paced, fun and inclusive lifestyle of Egilsstaðir and Austurland.”

Text: Sigga Lára.

Photo of Lára: Kox.