Hafsteinn Júlíusson is a product designer from Reykjavik, Iceland. After completing his BA in product design in Reykjavik he moved to Milan to study interior and industrial design. Hafsteinn has now resided back in Iceland where he founded his company HAF, an innovative workshop experimenting with new concepts in experience, product and food design.

HAF is a brand, a kind of family run yet ambitious business. How does a young designer finance himself?

Well, the reason for us founding the brand HAF was really random. After I published my works we got a lot of positive feedback. People wanted our products, which were just ideas and prototypes at that stage. So my family helped me out for the first production and step-by-step we built up our business. We also had great support from the Icelandic government. The fact that the team consists of family and friends makes it all more personal and fun.

How do you go about the initial development of a project?

The main ideology of HAF as a brand and a creative workshop is to be cross-disciplinary each time we try to face something that is totally new to us. That brings the surprise element and a fresh approach, which is really important. We often collaborate with other designers. For Wheel of Nutrition we teamed up with the Portuguese designer Rui Pereira. Since Portugal is known for its tradition in porcelain production we also thought of producing there. It is a fair-trade production that means a great deal to us.

How do you interpret function in your work? Are you interested in making things or in making ideas?

For sure I am much more interested in ideas and the process rather than in style or certain craftsmanship. We are producing experiences, not only things. My design is about the concept behind the products and the story it tells. All our products have some kind of positive meaning or message. We are not going to design a new chair just to make a new chair. Our latest project has dealt with the creation of a new Christmas experience for the city of Reykjavik. We illustrated in 3D the traditional Icelandic trolls and projected them on various buildings downtown. Children, tourists and citizens enjoyed it greatly; we created a whole new mood in the city.

You come from a privileged country, Iceland. After some years in Milan you have just moved back. Is that giving a new perspective to your work?

Yes, once I was back I realized all the privileges we have here in Iceland hence the nature and creative freedom. Icelandic design has been growing really fast especially after the big bank crisis. And now we build our future on solid foundations: intellectual creativity and energy.