Iceland Mag

11 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Art & Design

English quality design on sunny Skólavörðustígur

By Sara McMahon

  • The draper. Aaron Bullion designs and sells his products from his workshop on Skólavörðustígur, down-town Reykjavík. Photo/Björn Árnason

Aaron Bullion, an Englishman who has lived in Iceland on and off for ten years, is the creative director behind Reykjavík Drapers Union, a small manufacturer of hand-made, high quality goods. The design company was set up in 2013 and predominantly uses local materials, such as fabrics from the marine industry, for its products. Iceland Magazine visited Aaron in his workshop which is situated in the middle of Skólavörðustígur street in central Reykjavík.


When did you move to Iceland?
“The first time I came here was for a study trip. I was studying spatial design at the time and our tutor was Icelandic and she brought us here. I moved here for love soon after, but I decided to stay on after the break-up because by then Iceland had become home. I frequently go back to London but don’t really recognize the place that I left whereas Iceland had become a place I was familiar with, so it was easy for me to stay.”
Tell us more about the brand and your products:
“Reykjavík Drapers Union was set up last year. It was really set up to manufacture quality carrier goods such as bags, card cases, purses, wallets and so on. We intend to grow and eventually extend to other countries but we want to keep the base here in Reykjavík. We’d like to manufacture the products where we sell them and use materials local to each district.”

When did you open the workshop?
“We opened our workshop last September and have been keeping a low profile. We wanted to know whether the public would respond to our products without any encouragement from advertising or social media and so on. And we’ve got the response we’d hoped for.”

How did you go from studying spatial design in London to designing high-quality bags in Reykjavík?
“I was working on several housing projects here in 2009 but following the economic crash work was very thin on the ground. I wanted to make a collection of shirts so I learned how to sew and I carried on making things.”

Do you like being located on Skólavörðustígur?
“I love it! It’s the heart of Reykjavík. The street, which is based around arts and crafts, is always busy but not too busy. New and valued shops are adding to the street dynamic and there’s a constant flow of people who are genuinely interested in local, handcrafted goods. And maybe I’m imagining it, but it always seems to be sunny here.”


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