One of the main, if not the main, draws for the over two million people who visit Iceland annually is unquestionably the otherworldly beauty of its nature. Majestic volcanoes and ancients glaciers tower over expansive moss-covered lava fields while thundering waterfalls, glacial lagoons, and hundreds of natural geothermal pools dot its stunning landscape. And while nothing compares to witnessing the beauty of these sights in person, there is now a pretty unique and authentic way to experience them.
Enter Nordic Angan, or the Icelandic Herbal Fragrance Library.
Located in the quaint little town of Mosfellsbær, just seven miles east of Reykjavik, Nordic Angan is a one-of-a-kind “scent exhibition” that was two years in the making by friends Sonja Bent and Elín Hrund Þorgeirsdóttir. Their goal was to capture “the scent of Icelandic flora by distilling plants and trees to extract the essential oil.” And the result is fascinating.
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The Library features a “Forest Shower” installation inspired by the Japanese therapeutic practice of Shinrin Yoku or “forest bathing.” One aspect of it is to take advantage of antimicrobial essential oils, called phytoncides, that trees release into the air in order to protect them from germs and that have a number of health benefits for people. To replicate the experience in Nordic Angan, Bent and Þorgeirsdóttir use ultrasonic sound waves that break down the essential oils into microparticles, and that then turns them into a fine aromatic, cold mist that visitors can walk through and, in this way, experience the richness of Icelandic forests through their olfactory sense.
Bent and Þorgeirsdóttir have extracted the essential oils from wildflowers, plants, bark, and trees sourced from all over Iceland. Their ultimate goal is to build a fragrance library of Arctic nature. Together with the Forest Shower installation and the interactive exhibition space, Nordic Angan also sells essential oil blends, incense sticks, and other products made with natural ingredients from Iceland that, we think, make for perfect souvenirs from the Land of Fire and Ice.