An Exceptional Scholar and Designer

EINAR THORSTEINN was born with both unusual artistic abilities and also high sensitivity to engineering. He graduated from the University of Technology in Hanover in 1969 and then worked in the Studio of architect Frei Otto, who was the world’s pioneer of lightweight buildings. For example, he created the technical foundations of the transparent tent that was built over the main fields of the Munich Olympics in 1972. Frei Otto was posthumously awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize for his work.

During this time, Einar Thorsteinn also got in contact with Buckminster Fuller, who designed the geodesic dome of the USA pavilion for the Montreal Expo in 1967. Gradually, Einar Thorsteinn became a great scholar in the theories underlying these two areas of design and built many dome and tent buildings in Iceland and elsewhere.
In order to become a creative designer in these areas, Einar Thorsteinn had to dive deep into various laws of nature and mathematics. His best tool for his research was to make models resembling crystals. Linus Pauling, the main scholar specialising in crystals, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his pioneering research in this field. Einar Thorsteinn corresponded with him, discussing issues surrounding crystalline structures. Like Fuller, he came to Iceland three times for scholarly exchanges with Einar Thorsteinn.

In 2000 Einar moved to Berlin to work in Olafur Eliasson’s Studio. There he assisted the artist in the design of numerous sculptures, many of which are based on Einar’s spatial research. Einar worked with Eliasson till 2012, when he moved back home to Iceland.

In 2011 Hafnarborg, The Museum of Hafnarfjordur, created an exhibition of Einar Thorsteinn’s work. It was initiated by Olof K. Sigurdardottir, the director of the museum. She hired Goddur, a Professor of the Art Academy of Iceland and architect Petur H. Armannsson, as curators. They also edited the 96-page exhibition volume: “Hugvit2 (The Genius of the Mind)”. In the preface, Ms Sigurdardottir says about Einar Thorsteinn: “His works reflect his great knowledge and unique vision of the laws of nature…” On the work of the curators, Ms Sigurdardottir says: “They have been able to create a picture of a designer and no less, of a thinker…”. In an article in the exhibition volume, Armannsson says: “Einar Thorsteinn is undoubtedly one of the most distinguished and most imaginative thinkers that the Icelandic nation has produced” and “He is the space age man of Icelandic architecture …”.

Trausti Valsson