“This was the first apartment I went to look at, and I bought it – there was no need to complicate things”, says Margeir. First and foremost he was looking for the right location, but also an apartment where he could set up a studio and make as much noise as he wanted without having to worry about the neighbors. For a man who owns a successful IT company, that might seem a strange priority, but when you have dedicated almost half of your life to music – becoming one of Iceland’s most active and influential DJ in the process – it makes all the sense in the world.
Built in 1907, and surrounded by some of Reykjavík’s most emblematic buildings, the majestic corner house where Margeir lives stands on the intersection between two different sides of downtown Reykjavík. The first is an area that mostly conserves its original buildings, which went up during a time when the city was growing so fast that it doubled in size in just a few years, and no established regulations regarding how or where houses should be built existed. The other is a recently transformed residential area, with high rise apartment buildings that follow a clear grid, and that in no way resembles the hobbit-like side of Reykjavík that so many love and find fascinating.
When Margeir moved in, the apartment was being transformed into more of an open-plan living space, and he decided to continue that process, creating a bright kitchen that is now part of the main living area, while closing off other areas to create an extra bedroom.
Living in a house with almost 100 years of history can sometimes become a challenge. All the changes that have been made to the apartment since Margeir moved in have led to some unexpected surprises. For instance, the discovery of an extra space hidden above a false ceiling where the old kitchen use to be, which he has now turned into a sleeping area for his son. Margeir says that once you start moving things around in an old house like this, you realize how respectful you have to be. “Some of my earlier neighbours decided to tear down a structural wall a few years ago, and as a result a door in my house would not close. I had to look for a good carpenter and ask him to fix the door, by adding a few centimeters where needed, and now it is a completely custom-made door for this particular apartment,” he says. “I kind of like the idea that I will not find another door like this anywhere. I could have gone and bought a new one and had it installed, but when you live in an old house it makes no sense installing something brand new when you can fix the existing things, even though it takes more time and possibly money.”
When Margeir bought the apartment a few years ago, he was looking for a home for himself and his two sons. Now he has a family of five living there regularly, as he has an infant daughter with his girlfriend. A growing family is not the only reason this apartment might one day become too small for him; looking around you realize that he is also a dedicated art collector. “I took a very conscious decision around 15 years ago to start buying art. I decided that I would buy one piece every year, and up to now I have managed to do so – sometimes right at the last moment. A few days before the year was over, I would go and buy the piece I wanted, and that has now turned into a sort of December tradition.” Taking a whole year to meditate on which piece to buy might just be the right way to collect art, because Margeir now has an impressive collection by many of the best-known contemporary artists in Iceland.
“I knew I only wanted to collect contemporary art and was never interested in any of the older artists, just as I am only interested in playing contemporary music.”
“For me owning art is important and has been for many years, and I much prefer people giving me money, rather than presents, for birthdays or big occasions, as I can later invest it in a piece of art I like. I also think it is a very important part of raising my children – having art around the house, and educating them so that later on they may develop their own interest in buying and owning art”. And art is not the only thing his children are exposed to, because his home also features some pieces of furniture that are now considered to be design classics. Margeir explains he always tries to buy second-hand rather than new, and that he normally has difficulty finding new things to buy, preferring to restore his existing furniture.
In the last three years, Margeir has been bringing his life as a DJ especially close to home, using his own street as the venue for what has become a regular party event at Reykjavík’s Culture Night. It began as an idea for a small party to celebrate his birthday, using his balcony as a DJ booth. But somehow the idea grew out into the street, with a local building contractor even lending the use of his crane, making it possible for all party guests to gather under a watchful eye of huge mirrored ball, hanging right above their heads. Three years on, it is still going strong, and even Margeir’s sons have got in on the action, setting up a small lemonade booth next to the huge stage where their father performs. In the end Margeir’s 40th birthday party developed into what is by far the biggest house party held in Reykjavík, and the good part is, everyone is invited. Make sure not to miss it next time – and bring your yoga mat with you, as an outdoor yoga class might also be part of the programme.
Text: Auður Gná // Photography: Íris Ann