Andres Pelaez recently graduated from the Iceland Academy of the Arts with a BA degree in fashion. He moved from Guatemala to Iceland in 2012 and says that the past three years have been quite a journey.

Being from Guatemala, where earthquakes are very common, Andrés Peláez wasn‘t alarmed when the earth shook under his feet on the day he arrived in Iceland to live and study, on August 30th 2012. „I just thought it was the country saying hi to me,“ he says smiling.

And the country has welcomed him so warmly that he has no intension of moving away after his graduation next month, where he‘ll be awarded a BA degree in Fashion Design from the Iceland Academy of the Arts (i. LHÍ).

But how did he end up in Iceland, studying fashion design?

“My ambition is to get an internship at some of the big fashion houses that I love, either in London or Paris.” - Andres Pelaez.

“My ambition is to get an internship at some of the big fashion houses that I love, either in London or Paris.” – Andres Pelaez.

“In 2011, I was going on a vacation to Iceland but as I was researching for my trip, I started looking into the Fashion Design bachelor’s programme at the Academy so I brought my portfolio with me. I even skipped the Blue Lagoon on that trip to go for an interview at the Academy.”

Andrés’ application was accepted so he was able to begin his studies the following year.

He laughs, knowing it sounds just a tad crazy. “My parents were a little bit shocked about the place I chose, and that I didn’t want to go to one of the fashion capitals in the world but when I showed them the programme, they understood. And then they visited Iceland and loved it, even though it was February!”

He says he liked the programme at the Academy. “Because it’s very competitive, considering what‘s on offer out there, and very up to date. Some of the courses there I haven‘t seen in other programmes so LHÍ has a lot to offer. But the most important thing for me was that it‘s more artistic than influenced by international trends, more creative than commercial.”

Our interview is interrupted by a courier delivering documents that Andrés and his boyfriend have been waiting for. “Ah, yes. Today, we’re registering for cohabitation,” Andrés says, beaming. A big step so now, I want to know more about this boyfriend, Siggi.

“His full name is Sigurður Júlíus Guðmundsson,” Andrés says almost flawlessly. “And he works in IT, but he’s also very much an activist and is actually former vice president of Samtökin ’78 (e. The National Queer Organization).”

In fact, the two of them met at one of the Samtökin’s organized events shortly after Andrés moved to Iceland and have been living together for almost two years. “We‘re opposites, I don‘t know anything about computers and media and he, although he has an understanding of fashion, is not much involved in it so at the end of the day we don’t talk about work, which is great!”

Still, we need to talk about fashion and design. “Soon after I started my studies, I discovered that my designs are very influenced by architecture. My BA thesis is actually about similar practices in fashion and architecture and my graduation collection is inspired by 1950’s couture designers and modern architecture, where I like the structure and clean, smooth surfaces.”

Andrés says that if he hadn’t become a fashion designer, he very likely would have become an architect. He agrees with what has often been said, that Iceland lacks architecture but he still loves some of the latest designs, such as Harpa concert hall and he shows me a book by his new, favourite architect, Pálmar Kristmundsson who designed e.g. Höfðatorg and a building called Árbrog, which was one of the inspirations for Andrés’ clothes designs.

Noteworthy about Andrés’ designs is that they don’t reveal much flesh, in times when there’s constant debate about how revealing and daring clothes should or shouldn’t be.

“I would say two things about that. First, I create clothes for women and see the body as a canvas that I create clothes on. I wouldn’t want to disrespect the human body by flashing it. Second, I try to keep in mind the person I’m designing the clothes for, who is she? And then try to create something for her. So, the body is my canvas and I create on it, without making the body an actual part of the collection.”

“Being gay in Guatemala is still a taboo…I told my brother a few years before I came here and he was very supportive…My father didn’t talk to me for two months afterwards…”

Andrés has settled well in here but is still open to going abroad to further his career. “My ambition is to get an internship at some of the big fashion houses that I love, either in London or Paris. I would also like to study a bit more, specialize in something but that would have to be somewhere else, in one of the fashion capitals.”

For now though, he’s happy where he is. “Basically, it’s just easier to be gay here in Iceland. Being gay in Guatemala is still a taboo thing, even though the society is getting better and it’s not dangerous or anything. And I was lucky enough to have great, supportive friends. I told my brother a few years before I came here and he was very supportive and we actually grew closer because we could finally be completely honest with each other.”

But it wasn’t until Andrés had moved to Iceland that he came out to his parents. “I did it in summer 2013, and it was difficult, I admit. I’m not sure if they knew it but didn’t want me to confirm it. Also, we’re Catholics so it was a bit tricky. But I wanted to share this part of my life with them, I never talk about them having to accept it because I don’t need their approval. My father didn’t talk to me for two months afterwards but we’ve come a long way and now they’re fine with it.”

They even visited Iceland again last Christmas and met Siggi. “Just a few days before they arrived, they asked especially whether they could meet him, so they did and they really liked him. At the end of their stay, we had a big dinner with both our families and I almost needed someone to pinch me when I looked around and saw them all together. And my parents have said: “We‘re so happy you‘ve created your life here, it‘s so much better than the life you would have had in Guatemala,“ so I consider myself very lucky. ”

The graduation from the Academy takes place on 20 June; two years, nine months and 20 days since that earthquake greeted Andrés. Perhaps it was an omen of how Iceland would shake up his life?

“Everything I‘ve done in the last two, three years, I see it as a journey. And a lot has happened but the biggest change is that my entire life has become a little bit more relaxed since then.”

Photos (except the upper one of Andres): Birta Rán Björgvinsdóttir

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.

Locations:

Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.

     

    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      Landsbankinn
      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      Dohop
      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      Macland
      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

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        Ísey skyr
        - once tasted never forgotten

        Our Story
        Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

        For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

        Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
        This is our secret and you are in on it

        You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

        Núðluskálin
        - noodle bar

        Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

        All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
        We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
        Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

        Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

        Seatours
        - adventure cruise

        Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
        and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

        The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.

        600x400-seatours-tasting

        This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.

        600x400-seatours

        The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

        Birds, possible to spot:
        -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
        -eider ducks
        -shags
        -kittiwakes
        -fulmars
        -white-tailed eagle

        The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
        Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

        Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

        Contact Us


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