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Design Diaries Studio Minarc 00

Image courtesy Asta Kristjans


The Design Diaries
- Studio Minarc

Interview, Design Diaries

Date 03 February 2021

Established in 1999, Erla Dögg Ingjaldsdóttir and Tryggvi Thorsteinsson’s award-winning studio Minarc derive inspiration from the unassuming, almost austere beauty and otherworldly natural features of their native Iceland—the land of fire and ice. Trailblazers in the creative minimalism movement, the duo continue to craft spaces that not only bring the outdoors in but inspire intentional living and conscious lifestyles. With a focus on a holistic, environmentally aware approach, Minarc has developed a prefabricated panel system mnmMOD to replace traditional wood framing as well as a tiny affordable prefab dwelling called Plús Hús.

“Being from Iceland, we pay very close attention to the relationships between nature, ourselves, and what we create.”
Erla Ingjaldsdóttir

Design Diaries Studio Minarc 01 A

Ion Adventure Hotel in Selfoss, Iceland

Design Diaries Studio Minarc 01 B

Lava Spa at Ion Adventure Hotel

Design Diaries Studio Minarc 01 C

The interiors use driftwood and other natural materials from the surrounding area

Design Aim

Embrace contemporary design and employ innovative materials and technology.

Claim to Fame

Women in Sustainability Leadership Awards for Erla Dogg Ingjaldsdottir; World Travel Award for Iceland’s Leading Boutique Hotel: Ion Adventure Hotel

What You Didn’t Know

Showcased at art exhibitions such as The Istanbul Design Biennial and the Architecture & Design Museum Groundswell in L.A. and Santa Monica.

Member Hotels

Ion Adventure Hotel and Ion City Hotel

Watch Now

Minarc: The Gold-Standard in Modern Sustainable Design

Design Diaries Studio Minarc 02

Ion City Hotel in Reykjavík

Design Diaries Studio Minarc 03

Dropi hanging chair

Design Diaries Studio Minarc 04

Nest light

Who or what are your biggest influences?

Our daughters, daily life, the ocean, music, and nature.


Have you ever changed your mind about anything aesthetics-wise?

We often say that we are glad we are not brain surgeons as our vision is endlessly evolving and our minds are constantly changing based on new technology and to keep it as sustainable and functional as possible each time.


Describe your dream project, real or fantasy.

One that we have not yet imagined, and our dream project would always, always leave us with happy clients.


What’s the last thing you read that made you feel something?

The news. Unfortunately, the current state of the world has us feeling a wide range of emotions. Between Covid-19, California wildfires, riots, and more–we are looking forward to brighter days ahead.

Design Diaries Studio Minarc 05

Wood or concrete?

Beach or mountain?

Modern or classic?

City or Country?

Drama or comedy?

Dancing or hiking?

Design Diaries Studio Minarc 06

Maple, walnut and concrete facade of Drexel house in L.A.

Design Diaries Studio Minarc 07

Windowed courtyards suspend the sense of containment

Design Diaries Studio Minarc 08

The house uses the cutting-edge fabrication methods of the mnmMOD panels

What are you currently working on?

Changing the way buildings are built is always top of mind. mnmMOD, our prefabricated building panel system, was thoughtfully developed in reaction to the limitations and risks inherent in traditional wood framing. They are simpler to build with, more durable, more energy efficient, less waste, and far better for your health than a traditional wood construction. They also cost less in energy bills and maintenance since the panels don’t catch mold or support fire, which of course, is crucial right now for our planet, especially living in California, we very much understand that climate change is real, and it is here. We must all strive to build smarter and do better.


Is there a building or product that strikes you as particularly well-designed or innovative?

Our duty and responsibility as designers is to constantly strive to be better, do more. With this in mind, it is so important to us to be producing sustainable products that leave a beneficial impact on the environment and we are constantly striving to enhance the future of our planet through intelligent design. Form follows function. Most recently, we created our ReFlow, a simple design focused on sustainability and functionality–repurposing the greywater from washing your hands to flush the toilet. This gives the opportunity of using only one plumbing system as well as the continuous conservation of water.                

Design Diaries Studio Minarc 09

Country vacation house in Iceland using mnmMOD

Project images courtesy Art Gray

Featured Hotels


Ion Adventure Hotel

Selfoss, Iceland

Ion City Hotel

Reykjavik, Iceland

Featured Hotels


Ion Adventure Hotel

Iceland, Selfoss

Ion City Hotel

Iceland, Reykjavik
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