For ten years Hugrún Árnadóttir and Magni Þorsteinsson have designed, manufactured and sold their designs all over the world under the label Kron by Kronkron. This includes roughly 1,200 varieties of shoes; a collection which forms the basis of their exhibition at the Museum of Design and Applied Art, which opens during DesignMarch.
“Shoes must have been in the cards for us right from the get-go. Magni and I both had a special passion and fascination with unusual shoes when we were younger, and I even collected weird shoes, though not once did it occur to me that I’d be doing this for a living,” says Hugrún when asked how the couple’s big shoe adventure first began. “The last ten years have been like some crazy marathon run, and frankly kind of a ridiculous one at that. You’re always so busy working on whatever’s going on right now, and getting ready for the next big thing, that you hardly ever have time to look back at what’s come before,” she says, admitting that when she and her husband first went into shoemaking, they had no idea just how much work would be involved. Not that either of them have any regrets whatsoever. The design and production process behind every single pair of shoes is incredibly complex and time-consuming, clocking in at roughly eighteen months from first concept to store window. Each pair can consist of up to 30 or 40 individual elements that must be purchased from separate manufacturers based variously in Italy, Spain and Portugal.
Hugrún explains that the couple’s chosen profession is one that demands great expediency. While most shoe designers are guided by practical considerations – making the simplest and most commercially viable shoe, usually by using cheaper materials, reducing product variety and circumventing craftspeople – Hugrún and Magni aspire to make resilient and timeless shoes that proudly display the handiwork of their creators. Behind every detail of every shoe, there is a highly qualified specialist in his or her field. From day one, the couple have sought out the perfect specialist for every job, even if such micromanagement can cause more than merely technical headaches. “When you find the right craftspeople – that’s when the adrenaline kicks in. These people burn with passion for what they do. And that’s what connects us – that passion. Magni and I know from personal experience how it feels to go the road less travelled, and for us it is important to be able to connect all these people and give them projects to work on. It’s really what keeps you going.”
Considering the sheer number of elements that have to come together in order to make one pair of shoes, the fact that the Kron by Kronkron exhibition will feature 1,200 pairs seems mind-boggling, almost overwhelming. Hugrún concurs, noting that several large moving trucks were required to transport the collection to the museum. “I guess you never paint the same thing twice! It is kind of amazing how many shoes we’ve designed and made, but we’re not in this business to turn a buck. We’ve always ignored the commercial aspect of what we do, and instead created our own world that’s really more of a reflection of who we are ourselves. Anyone who’s set foot in one of our stores will know that. We’ve created a vibrant world, full of colours, and not really connected to fashion. Kron by Kronkron has a signature look, but every single pair of shoes we’ve made is also very independent in time – timeless. Our customers are all so different, and we’ve heard from them time and time again that buying our shoes is like buying a work of art. These aren’t just shoes; they’re much more than that. We want people to forget their everyday world when they come to our stores, and this exhibition is, in a way, reflecting the world we’ve created over the last ten years.”
Words Sunna Örlygsdóttir / Photos Anna Maggý og Kári Sverriss