Greenland is best known for its unique indigenous culture, as well as its astonishing nature and wildlife. Both are represented in prints made by the small business, Inuk Design. All prints are originally hand drawn by graphic designer, Liv Aurora Jensen, who runs the company with her husband, Peter Jensen.

Inuk Design produces a range of home products, from tableware to pillowcases and clothes, printed with Arctic-inspired designs. Its small store in the Greenlandic capital of Nuuk is a trove of original craft inspired by Greenlandic culture and nature.

‘Inuk’ means ‘human’ in Greenlandic. For Liv, Inuk Design has helped her reconnect with her own Greenlandic heritage. Born in Qasigiannguit in northern Greenland, she moved to Denmark at seven years old with her Danish father. Greenland has a shared history with Denmark dating back several hundred years. It was ruled by Denmark until 1979, but is today a self-governing country within the Kingdom of Denmark.

Inuk Design: Promoting Greenlandic culture through design

“I never felt at home in Denmark. When I moved to Denmark, I lost my language and my culture and I fell out of touch with my family,” says Liv. She decided to move back to Greenland in 1987 but, unable to speak the language, found it difficult to reintegrate with Greenlanders. In fact, she recalls, it was like starting over completely. Luckily, Liv had her creativity to rely on: “Moving back here was a long, difficult and emotional journey. During that time, I have subconsciously drawn my way back to the culture by drawing memories from my childhood,” she says.

Things became easier when Liv met Peter. The pair began working together in 2001, became a couple and got married the following year. Liv describes Peter as “a gift – someone who believed in me and my creative skills,” and Peter adds that Liv is “a very skillful graphic designer.” “My wife doesn’t draw every day but when she does, it’s almost as if she falls into a trance,” he says. “She will create a complete drawing in one go on a small piece of paper – without making any mistakes.”

Inuk Design: Promoting Greenlandic culture through design

International recognition

Inuk Design’s unique homage to Greenlandic culture and nature has attracted international success, with Liv exhibiting her work in cities like Reykjavik, Copenhagen, Düsseldorf, Paris and Toronto. This year, Inuk Design was awarded two awards by the German Design Council – the German Design Award and the Iconic Award. “The two German awards mean a lot to me,” Liv says. “It’s an amazing recognition that makes me incredibly happy and proud, especially because it was the German Design Council who found me online. I hadn’t reached out to them.”

Inuk Design is helping to spread positive representation of Greenlanders and their culture within Denmark, while the small shop has welcomed tourists from all over the world who have taken an interest in the designs. “We have had tourists from places including Germany, Brazil, Japan, USA and Canada,” Liv says. “When they see the designs, it’s like they connect with it somehow. And when I ask what makes them interested in my products, they’ll tell me that they recognise their own culture in the designs. This makes me feel overwhelmed with joy. This design is unique, and yet it appeals to people of all ages and nations.”

Inuk Design: Promoting Greenlandic culture through design

Home is where the heart is

Even though they live in a remote community, Peter and Liv are outward-looking and have always felt at home on the international scene. “We have travelled quite a lot and whenever we travel, it’s like our own culture becomes stronger and more visible,” Liv explains.

Inuk Design: Promoting Greenlandic culture through design

Peter Jensen and Liv Aurora Jensen from Inuk Design.

Living in such an isolated place isn’t always easy for the business. Greenland has a small population, meaning they can’t order thousands of products at once, as they are not sure to sell quickly enough. Products must be manufactured ethically and sustainably abroad, and either flown or shipped to the country, which can take some time. Liv adds that there aren’t many traders in Greenland – making it a somewhat lonely profession.

Inuk Design: Promoting Greenlandic culture through design

Nevertheless, the couple wouldn’t want it any other way, and so they find solutions to the practical challenges. Inuk Design’s webshop, for example, ships worldwide. “I guess we could move to a major European city, such as London or Paris,” Liv reflects. “But our hearts belong here.”

Inuk Design: Promoting Greenlandic culture through design

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