Högni Stefán Þorgeirsson has repurposed hundreds of thousands of kilos of scrap wood that would have otherwise ended up on a junkyard into bespoke, high-quality furniture.

Högni Stefán Þorgeirsson has been drawn to old wood for as long as he can remember. So, when Þorgeirsson, then still a self-employed hardwood flooring expert, was contracted to lay flooring in the restaurant of a new hostel in Reykjavík, Iceland in 2010, he turned to the owner with a bold suggestion.

Arctic Plank turns scrap wood into high-quality, bespoke furniture

Photo: Gunnar Freyr

“Why don’t we make the floor coverings out of wood from old shipping pallets?”

The hostel owner had come to Þorgeirsson’s with his own decoration ideas and drawings, but he loved the suggestion to repurpose used shipping pallets, so much so that he also hired Þorgeirsson to create a vast yard patio out of recycled wood.

That was the beginning of Arctic Plank, founder and owner Þorgeirsson explains. “It started from there. After that, people started calling me; hotels, restaurants and private homes who had heard about the hostel project.”

Arctic Plank turns scrap wood into high-quality, bespoke furniture

Photo: Kex

With its focus on turning used wood into bespoke, high-quality furniture, Arctic Plank is unique in Iceland. Þorgeirsson has a steady supply of wood thanks to a deep partnership with Reykjavík’s Port Authority; another resource has been two local fishing companies that recently decided to discard all their shipping vessels. “I now own three 60-ton boats made from solid oak,” he says. “I take them apart piece by piece and make furniture and floor coverings and other items out of the woods from these boats that have served the fishing industry in Iceland for the last 70, 80 years.” In a sign of how much city authorities value what Þorgeirsson is doing, Reykjavík’s municipal government has also provided him with a space to store all this wood.

Arctic Plank turns scrap wood into high-quality, bespoke furniture

Photo: Kari Sverris

Since launching in 2010, Þorgeirsson has done projects not just in Iceland but also in the United States and Europe, and he estimates that he has saved hundreds of thousands of kilos of perfectly usable wood from ending up in a smelter or junkyard. The range of items he’s made from this old wood is wide – from floor coverings and wall panels, to kitchen cabinets, dining tables and sofas. “All my customers have loved the story behind the wood – the aspect of giving wood a second chance, a second life,” he explains, adding that he’s never had to convince a client to give old wood a chance, so to speak.

The Arctic Plank founder’s next project is to build entire, durable houses made out of old, scrap wood. “I’ve been doing my research and testing the project,” he explains, adding that he managed to find a glue producer in Norway who sent him a glue – made specifically to hold recycled wood together. “And all the stress tests are coming back really positive.”

To do this, he’ll make cross-laminated timber out of the scrapwood or, as Þorgeirsson puts it, “a sandwich” of multiple layers of wood that can be used instead of concrete in construction.

The significance and novelty of this new Arctic Plank venture cannot be overstated. “Using this type of wood to build a house – it’s not uncommon; it’s unheard of,” Þorgeirsson says. “Because everyone just buys new wood.” He adds that he hopes to finish the first house in 2024.

But even if the project to create entire houses out of recycled wood currently looms big in Þorgeirsson’s agenda, he emphasises that Artic Plank will not let go of its original focus either. “To use wood from old ships and piers and repurpose it into beautiful flooring and furniture.”

Pointing out that in Iceland alone between 70,000 to 80,000 cubic metres of wood are thrown away every year, he says: “I want to take this material and make something beautiful out of it. It has not served its lifespan by ending up in a smelter or a junkyard.”

Arctic Plank turns scrap wood into high-quality, bespoke furniture

Photo: Kex

Web: www.arcticplank.is
Facebook: arctic.plank
Instagram: @arcticplank

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