Tryggvi Thorsteinsson and Erla Dögg Ingjaldsdóttir Minarc Design Studio

Article Image 1

Tryggvi Thorsteinsson and Erla Dögg Ingjaldsdóttir, Principals Minarc

Oct. 29, 2015

Iceland natives Tryggvi Thorsteinsson and Erla Dögg Ingjaldsdóttir came to America years ago with a simple yet lofty goal: Change the world for the better. While earnest and admirable and held by many, too often this is a goal left relatively unrealized. Such is not the case for Erla and Tryggvi. Throughout their careers, these accomplished designers and long-time partners have not only maintained a continuous focus on bringing innovative ideas forward in clear connection to sustainability, but have remained fiercely driven and confidently idealistic throughout.

Minarc is an award-winning design studio recognized internationally for its modern, innovative, and sustainable design solutions. Inspired by the pure, austere beauty of their native Iceland, principals Erla Dögg Ingjaldsdóttir and Tryggvi Thorsteinsson were drawn to Santa Monica, California and the wide-open spaces and rich light that sustain their vision—one which blurs the line between indoors and outdoors through an abundant use of natural light, creation of exterior living spaces, and incorporation of architecturally captured views of the natural environment.

Their aesthetic is influenced by the scarcity of materials and high performance design required in their homeland. They established their company, to design modern structures and produce a panelized system that is very efficient and easy to assemble.

The system is manufactured locally eliminating waste both in fabrication and on site construction. The building process is different but “It does not change the design possibilities.” mnmMOD houses provide no waste on site, no termites, no mold, no framing correction, no dye, or formaldehyde. Their building solution is cradle-to-cradle certified, energy efficient and has a high insulation value. Every assembly element passes evaluation for high recycle content, energy efficiency and local availability. Simplicity is a key factor, as a limited number of assembled elements are utilized, eliminating custom onsite fabrication.

The panels are made of a polystyrene foam core, framed by galvanized steel and wrapped in a waterproof membrane. There is no wood used in the construction but all steel. Panels are flat packed, shipped and assembled by as few as two workers with a screw gun.

“Flexibility in the design remains in the hands of the designers, no matter the vision or site condition. Yet, every mnmMOD dwelling benefits from quality materials and features that are essential to true sustainability.” Says Erla.

Erla and Tryggvi have amassed considerable professional success while growing the award winning and internationally recognized Santa Monica, California design studio, Minarc, which they co-founded in 1999. The Sustainable Quality Award for Excellence, Watermark Award, Green Dot Award, and The Sustainable Quality Pioneer Award are among the many commendations they have received, testaments of their dedication to helping usher in an age of truly sustainable building practices. Nevertheless, this noteworthy list of accomplishments has done little to satiate their deeply-held desire to always do more, and always do better.

Thus, in 2007 they began developing mnmMOD, a  highly efficient, sustainable and environmentally responsible building material for use in residential home construction. Utilizing mnmMOD in the home building process renders obsolete many long-standing and often grossly wasteful building practices such as wood framing, while simultaneously minimizing the resulting home’s carbon footprint, increasing its efficiency, and eliminating the common concerns of mold, termites, and deterioration.

When not actively working to shift the home building industry paradigm towards a waste-less and sustainable future, Erla and Tryggvi are outside enjoying the natural environment they care so deeply for. In addition to being accomplished travelers and avid cyclists, they are also the doting parents of three wonderful daughters who have only further strengthened their resolve to leave the world a better place for generations to come. Existing as a beautiful representation of one of the great Mahatma Gandhi’s most prolific statements, Erla and Tryggvi truly are the change they wish to see in the world.




Related Content


Current Notices

Giving to the CAED

Power of Doing Campaign

More on CAED support

CAED Connections

Connections 2020

Connections Magazine

Faculty Resources for Remote Classes

CAED Faculty Resources image

Updated resources and links for our faculty who are teaching and working remotely.

CAED Tech Team