Katrín Ólína 

The illustrator, product designer, artist and storyteller 

Having studied industrial design in Paris, Katrín Ólína worked in the European design studios of Philippe Starck and Ross Lovegrove. But at the same time she also nurtured her love of drawing, and made a name for herself applying graphics and illustration in the fields of industrial design, interiors, fashion, print, animation and product design. Her interior design for the Cristal Bar in Hong Kong, for example, involved graphic imagery over-layed on every surface.

Returning to her native Iceland in 2007, Katrín decided to explore her ideas about mythology, symbolism and storytelling further. She is now a multi-disciplinary graphic artist with a rich visual language that builds on research, experimentation and creative drawing processes, and fuses the hand-drawn with technology, the two-dimensional with the experiential, and the real world with the imaginary. 

For example, Katrín recently designed a printed carpet depicting a fictional magician she created called Miklimeir. To complement this, she created a series of furniture pieces called Friends of Steel. Both are based on her constantly evolving, personal imaginary world that provides fuel for much of her creative work.  

A selection of furniture pieces from Katrin's Friends of Steel

She is also collaborating with the University of Reykjavik on a new interactive environment that uses artificial intelligence to bring her imaginary characters to life, and is currently working on a series of books to take her research and thoughts about her creative process further. 

Katrín believes that much of a creative’s multi-disciplinary thinking is driven by the speed of technological development, which provides great opportunity for learning, but also throws up uncharted territories. “I get hugely inspired by anything like science, natural history, art and design – I feel so many of the disciplines are heading in a similar direction and I want to try and capture that and work with that through my storytelling,” she explains.

The move towards cross-disciplinary creative work is also linked to an increasing focus on the process and narrative, believes Katrín. “We’re being flooded by information, so this [the creative process] is what people are interested in right now, because we all want to know where things come from.”

Luise Vormittag, Container 

The Photographer, illustrator, performer and set designer 

Having studied photography, fine arts and graphic design at one point or another, Luise Vormittag – aka multi-disciplinary art and design practice Container – has continued in the multi-skilled vein she mined from the start. 

Originally working in illustration with co-founder Nicola Carter, who has now left the studio, Luise found herself increasingly employing a multi-disciplinary approach to projects, using “whatever medium is available”, as she now describes it. 

Container was tasked with designing four rooms at Copenhagen’s Hotel Fox, plus an ‘artcar installation’ for the launch of Volkswagen’s Fox car

One early project that defined this approach was a commission from Volkswagen to design a hotel room for its VW Fox car launch in Copenhagen. It included murals, fabrics, with collage and other media thrown in. Volkswagen also asked them to create an ‘artcar installation’. Commissions since have ranged from set design for a Topshop press show and staff party to a limited edition design for electric car G-Wiz, and more recently a window installation for advertising agency The Assembly. 

“Sometimes I think it’s really good to be able to work in this multi-faceted way. Sometimes you start feeling a bit of a jack-of-all-trades and master of none,” Luise admits, although she puts this down to creative self-questioning. 

Her all-embracing approach has recently developed into the experiential realm, as she increasingly focuses on installations, performances and other events. 

Container and Chantal Young designed the set for Topshop’s annual press show, conference and staff party. Among the attractions was actor/dance troupe the Lady Greys

Acknowledging an inherent generalist approach of knowing “a little bit about lots of things”, Luise nonetheless turns to the specialist on certain areas of projects. 

“There’s always the need for generalists to work together with specialists. As a generalist you have more of an overview, but you need the specialist to help you do it properly,” she argues.

She also believes that an increasing focus on the experience is driving a need to approach the creative process in new ways. Designers and creatives should no longer think of the discipline first, but develop a project with the participant’s experience at the forefront of consideration – that then dictates the medium.

Ad agency The Assembly commissioned Container to create a window display for it