Axel Salto Stentøjsmesteren / Axel Salto stoneware master


A major exhibition of work by the artist, designer and ceramicist Axel Salto (1889 - 1961) opened in February at Øregaard Museum in Hellerup - just along the coast to the north of the city.

Salto studied painting at the Royal Academy and graduated in 1914.

By 1916 he was living in Paris where he met Picasso and Henri Matisse and on returning to Denmark he produced, edited and wrote for a short-lived but influential journal Klingen / The Blade that was published between 1917 and 1919.

He was a member of the Grønningen group of artists and one of The Four with Svend Johansen, Vilhelm Lundstrom and Karl Larsen who exhibited together between 1920 and 1929.

In the 1920s he began to design ceramics and his stoneware pieces were produced in the workshops of Carl Haller at Saxbo keramik in Frederiksberg and he also produced designs for porcelain by Bing & Grondahl with his work shown at the Paris exhibition in 1925.

This exhibition shows a full range of his ceramic works from small stoneware bowls with incised decoration or bold moulding with Japanese-style glazes to large-scale works with scenes from Classical mythology or stylised nature.

Paintings and strong and very confident ink and line-work drawings, including designs for the ceramics, show clearly the style Salto developed from his training as a painter.

He also worked with the book binder August Sandgren and a selection of designs for end papers are shown in an upper gallery which have a distinct feel of the 1930s with deep colours and stylised and small repeat patterns.


the exhibition continues at Øregaard Museum until 23 June 2019

Kunsthåndværkermarkedet / The Craft Market on Frue Plads in Copenhagen



In the middle of August each year, there is a craft market on Frue Plads - the square next to the cathedral in Copenhagen.

Organised by Danske Kunsthåndværkere & Designere / The Danish Association of Craft Workers and Designers, this is an opportunity to see and to buy some of the very best ceramics, glass and textiles made in Denmark. These photographs of ceramics were taken this time last year and show the quality and the range of works sold here.

The current series of posts on this site is looking at aspects of how colour and texture are used in Danish design and Danish architecture and it seems curious that, on the whole, the current fashion for both buildings and for interiors in Denmark is for muted colours and, generally, very little or very restrained use of texture but in ceramics you find such strong forms or shapes and incredibly confident use of colour and texture in works that push both the material and the glazes used to new levels.


Kunsthåndværkermarkedet / The Craft Market 2018
Thursday 9 August 12 - 19
Friday 10 August 10 - 19
Saturday 11 August 10 - 16


KADK Afgang Sommer’17


This weekend is the last opportunity to see the exhibition of the projects and work of this year's graduates from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation … a densely packed show of the talents and the phenomenal imaginations and skills of the students who have just completed their courses in Copenhagen.

There are profiles of the students and photographs and descriptions of their work on the KADK site.

The exhibition ends on 13th August. 

KADK, Danneskiold-Samsøe Alle, Copenhagen

Liquid Life - Biennalen for Kunsthåndværk & Design 2017

This is the last two days of the Biennalen ... an exhibition of some of the very best of Danish craft work.

What is astounding here are those very qualities that are not normally associated with Danish design … or at least not with common preconceptions about Danish design from the late 20th century. So here there is strong, bold use of colour and texture and the exploration of ideas that challenge perceptions and preconceptions. 

The theme Liquid Life - about how precarious modern life can feel - is from a text by Zygmunt Baumann and taken from his book Liquid Life that was published in 2005.

“Liquid life is the kind of life commonly lived in our contemporary, liquid-modern society ... The most acute and stubborn worries that haunt this liquid life are the fears of being caught napping, of failing to catch up with fast moving events, of overlooking the ‘use by’ dates and being saddled with worthless possessions, of missing the moment calling for a change of tack and being left behind.”

With an amazing diversity of both materials and techniques - with works in ceramic and glass, with textiles, jewellery, furniture, book binding, fashion and photography - and with many of the artists combining several materials and in some works several specialist skills - these works are the response that these observations by Zygmunt Bauman inspired in thirty seven artists, designers and makers ........... a response and an antidote.


Liquid Life - Biennalen for Kunsthåndværk & Design 2017

Museumsbygningen, Kastelsvej 18, Copenhagen until 27 May 2017



note: select an image by clicking on it and that will take you into the gallery where the title of the work and the name(s) of the artist(s) can be found

more photographs

Mindcraft16 ... ceramics

Works by four ceramicists were selected to be included in the Mindcraft16 exhibition at Designmuseum Danmark.

They could hardly be more different showing four very different approaches to working with clay but all four makers are exploring what they can do with clay, testing boundaries and challenging preconceptions about ceramics. 

read more

the glassmaker Rick Gerner


In the Autumn there were two opportunities in Copenhagen to see the work of Rick Gerner: at northmodern he was one of eighteen young designers from Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi Designskolen (the Danish Royal Academy schools of design) who showed their work in an area called Talents and Schools and then, in September, graduate students from the Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi School of Ceramics and Glass on Bornholm showed their work in an exhibition, Silica Visions, at the Round Tower in Copenhagen.

Rick Gerner is from the Netherlands and started his design training there but began to question if his studies, and the approach to what he was doing, was right for him and right for what he wanted to achieve. He discovered glass making; realised that the very direct, hands-on approach of training within a craft discipline, rather than dealing with design as simply a stage in the production process, was what he really wanted to do and he transferred to Bornholm.

Understanding that, you can see in his work the enthusiasm and the determination of the convert … there is a focus and an intensity in his work but also the sense that he is testing and pushing the boundaries as he tries to understand the material he has chosen to work with.

He has gone back to basics; not just looking at glass itself as the raw material - looking at what can and cannot be done with molten glass in the process of making a glass vessel - but he has also analysed how he uses the tools needed to gather the glass; form it into shapes and crimp or cut or finish the vessels he has formed. He has made the tools he needed and for his graduation project he has photographed and analysed how he uses those tools. 

This is like a young writer exploring the sounds and rhythms of the words of their language or a professional musician finding what they feel to be exactly the right instrument for them to play and then exploring and experimenting and finding the limits of what they can do with the sound and with the strengths and the limits of that instrument. And, of course, all young craftsmen, learning their trade, test the boundaries and develop an understanding of what they can and cannot do with the materials they are working with - Rick Gerner is only unusual in that he has analysed and photographed and written about that process.

He works with a straightforward glass that has tones of green with slight variations in that colour - minerals and chemicals have to be added to make glass that is sharply clear or deeply coloured or to make it perform in different ways in its molten or finished state - and this basic quality gives his finished work a warmth with slight irregularities and slight inconsistencies that bring the pieces to life. It is the impurities that gives the glass the qualities that show it was made by hand and not formed and moulded in perfect regularity by a machine but it is also the irregularities in glass that give it its reflective qualities. 

Of course, perfectly consistent glass - with each piece produced being exactly the same as the first and the last - has distinct qualities and distinct benefits for certain work but the character and the qualities of the glass are different to the glass made by Rick Gerner. Surely, this is comparable to the differences between stoneware and porcelain in ceramics; between copper and steel in metalwork or between raw linen and fine cotton in textiles. That is not to make a judgement based on quality or intrinsic value but simply a distinction between different types of material that vary between a softer irregularity or a sharper and more consistent regularity. And it’s not to say that one is better and the other worse … just different. The individual materials have inherent qualities that the designer has to understand and exploit.

The shapes and forms in the glassware produced by Rick come directly from the methods and techniques of the production itself and so there are links back to the shapes and forms of decoration in ‘honest’ and straightforward glassware from the late medieval and the early modern period of the 16th and 17th century. Back to that period when the glassmakers of the Netherlands and the north German states and, further afield, in Bohemia, began to develop successful glass industries that produced everyday glassware for the table. But the forms and decoration developed by Rick Gerner are only similar because the material and the techniques he uses are much the same now as then but he is bringing to his craft his own tastes and his own distinctly contemporary eye. As said so often now on this web site, this is not about reproducing historic designs but about starting with well-established craft skills and taking them in a new direction that has to be appropriate and relevant to modern life and modern needs.

Rick Gerner


Silica Visions - Round Tower, Copenhagen

Silica Visions is an exhibition of work by the students who have graduated this summer from the ceramic and glass course of the Danish Royal Academy design school at Nexø on Bornholm.

The quality of the work is impressive but what is so amazing is the diverse approaches to the materials and the extensive experimentation with techniques.

In some, strong sculptural form is the result while in others, with fractured surfaces, the pieces seem close to their origin as minerals while in the work of others, smooth trails of colour or globules of material emphasise and exploit the high temperatures required to produce all these works. 

Obviously, each student is only represented by one or at most a few pieces of their work but does indicate where, right now, their interests are focused and it will be intriguing to track careers and fascinating to see who, if anyone,  moves into commercial design work and who, in the coming years, set up studios or workshops.

Of course the exhibition is not in the Round Tower itself but in the large gallery space above the church and reached from an upper level of the tower. There is generous space to see the works and the natural light from the windows can create beautiful and at times quite dramatic effects.

gallery of images

Silica Visions continues until the 27th September

Lotte Westphaell at the craft market


The ceramicist Lotte Westphaell trained at Kolding and now has her studio in Silkeborg.

Her distinctive and elegant pieces illustrate several major points about design and the design process that have been discussed on this site but are well worth repeating.

These are slabs pots but not the normal style of slab pots that immediately spring to mind. Raising the sides of a vessel by pinching the clay and pulling it upwards or by forming the sides with thin rolls of clay then smoothed together or forming a flat single sheet of clay and then raising it around a flat and usually circular base … making a slab pot … as techniques predate moulding or throwing pieces on a potters wheel. It would be wrong to see such pots as crude or basic and in skilled hands those techniques can be used to make thin and well-shaped and well-finished pots but here the clay is a fine porcelain body in a mixture or recipe that Lotte has developed for this phase of her work and the finished work is an incredibly refined and elegant slab pot.  And phase is the right word because on the stall at the craft market it was possible to see several pieces that reflected stages in more than three years of development.

What makes the finished ceramics so elegant and so astonishing is that the partly-dried sheets of clay for the sides are slashed and the strips of darker clay inserted and the sides rolled thinner again so that the design is actually not applied as it might appear to be but is an integral part of the material of the piece. The tall sides are then built up by butting together thinner strips and, as any potter will tell you, the most difficult part and the most vulnerable part likely to be revealed in the firing is any joins. Here the join also has to be precise as the style of the finished work has an exacting graphic quality. The strips added to each other reminded me of ikat and textiles where strips or woven ribbons are sewn together to form a larger piece. When I suggest that, Lotte Westphael smiled and said that actually she has studied in Japan and suddenly it was obvious that the finished works do have that fascinating design aesthetic that can be seen independently and with clear but subtle differences in Denmark and in Japan. The colour palette of the finished works could be typically Danish or, on the other hand, typically Japanese.

What these ceramic works show so clearly is a complicated relationship between the interests and the evolving style of the artist; a design concept that evolves and develops over a sequence of works and designs for pieces that rely on the confidence to push both the material and the techniques used in new directions or to new boundaries or limits. To use phrases like confidence or courage when talking about design might seem odd to someone who does not design or does not make but actually that sense of focus combined with the determination to realise an idea is at the core of much new design work. Courage? Well yes. For most potters the works they sell are their only income. So safer to stick with making what people have bought before. Confidence? Well yes because, for instance here, the clay in the early stages of the production is not self supporting so the sides are set out around a former but as the clay dries it shrinks so remove it too soon and the piece collapses or try to remove the former too late and it won’t come out. Hours of work can be lost.

A kiln will take days and days of work in a single firing. Get that firing wrong and that time and that potential income is lost. Few potters would talk about those aspects of their work to a customer … particularly in the environment of the craft market … but this clearly is a good example of one of those points where design skills, technical skills, the understanding of what the materials can or cannot do and the imagination to try and realise new ideas all come together.


Lotte Westphaell, Anedalvej 1b, Silkeborg

ceramics at the Frue Plads market

Ane-Katrine von Bülow, Møntergade 6, Copenhagen


The annual craft market on Frue Plads in Copenhagen provides an amazing opportunity to see a huge range of styles, forms and colours of ceramics of the highest quality. 

To start with the mundane … pottery is simply carefully selected earth that has been formed into a shape that is dried; possibly decorated - with incised, applied or painted decoration - and usually, but not always, covered with a glaze and then fired in a kiln at a greater or lesser temperature, depending on the nature and qualities of the clay and the effect planned, for the finished work to form a resilient and long-lasting piece. 

But then the reality, or at least the reality here is that the ceramics produced are personal and dynamic. For a start, the ceramics reflect the quality of the clay chosen - fine and regular and able to form a thin and precise shape and fired at a high temperature - or heavier or even with an inherent colour ranging from pale grey through to deep brown depending on minerals present in the clay. And texture varies from almost impossibly smooth to almost gritty clay used for robust and organic work and the forms that are possible range from almost impossibly delicate to strong and sculptural and the finish from precise regularity through to an almost-free irregularity. Colour for a glaze or for painted decoration applied to the surface can be anything from a thin wash, reminiscent of a water-colour painting, to a depth of colour that is almost so thick and so deep that it is almost tangible and designs can be anything from fine graphic lines to the boldest and strongest shapes and patterns.

Perhaps it is this almost infinite number of permutations for form, colour and texture that make ceramics so attractive not least because each piece reflects the taste and the interests of the individual ceramicist and works are often the product of a long period of experimentation with the careful development of a technique to create the form or pattern envisioned.


Anne Rolsted, Kagerupvej 22, Regstrup

Charlotte Nielsen, Reerslevvej 20a, Ruds Vedby

Karin Patricia Jensen, Anna Queens Stræde 5, Helsingør

Bente Brosböl Hansen, 1685 Klåverröd, Sweden

Finn Dam Rasmussen, Haredalen 4, Tisvildeleje

Jytte Strøm, Torupvejen 109, Hundested

Helle Vestergaard, Kigkuren 8d, Copenhagen

Nelly Gaskin, Gammeltotv 2a, Skælskør

Birgitte and Hans Börjeson, FulbyGl Skole, Dansbrovej 2, Sorø

Note there were over 130 stalls at the market so the selection here is simply of images that give an impression of the huge range of styles and forms of work shown at the market. Also the event was packed with visitors and there is an amazing crowd dynamic where, as soon as you find some space and an open view of a work, at least six people, thinking you must have spotted something good, step in front of the camera to get a closer view themselves of what must be really interesting … because someone is photographing. And of course it is not the most appropriate time to talk to a maker/designer when they have to focus on those people actually buying … but several names were noted down for visits to studios later in the year.

Names highlighted here in bold green type should give a direct link to the artists own site and details but the web site of Danske Kunsthåndværkere & Designere has an excellent gazetteer with links and images.

work in wood at the craft market

Monomade in Denmark


The craft market on Frue Plads is not an obvious venue for craft pieces in wood … the cabinet makers' guild hold regular exhibitions for major pieces and also general design shows and markets such as northmodern or the Finders Keepers market are a good place to find handmade one-off or small run pieces in wood made by craftsmen.

However there were two stalls at the Frue Plads market that had work in wood and both illustrated simple but important points about good design.

Monomade in Denmark was founded by the architects Kira Snowman and Uffe Topsøe-Jensen and is based in Copenhagen. Their beautifully simple - or, rather better to say, deceptively simple pieces - show how important it is to design with clean lines, careful use of appropriate proportions and using the very best timber to highlight and enhance the qualities of the material itself … the goal is to achieve a balanced partnership between the natural material and the skill of the maker.

The ceramicist Jenni Godtlebsen used shelves and a hanging rack by Vestwood with her amazing cups and plates to show how the the pieces do have a clear functional role in a kitchen as well as being beautiful ceramic works but the juxtaposition of fired and glazed pieces set against the natural wood emphasises that ceramics too are made from a natural material. As with timber, it is the variations and the slight irregularities in the finished and fired ceramics that give the works a warmth and vitality.

ceramics by Janni Godtliebsen with wood peg storage rail by Vest Wood

Kunsthåndværker Markedet … amazing art and/or beautiful utility?

mugs by Janni Godtliebsen


A significant proportion of the ceramic works on show at the craft market were clearly decorative and that’s fine … the potter as ceramic artist or maker. Glass at this level of design and craftsmanship tends to be more practical so there were certainly wine glasses and jugs at the market but still plenty of presentation pieces. Many of the stalls had flowers or fruit in their vases or bowls but this was presumably to make the display as attractive as possible rather than suggest clear practical use. 

Believe me, this is not a criticism of the designers and artists but may simply reflect the practical approach of the Danes to buying table ware and glass and ceramics for their dining rooms and kitchens. There is probably a clear division in people’s minds between decorative work and practical table ware. I was just curious that although there were mugs and so on, which were clearly to be seen as something special … a gift or a treat to oneself … it would have been difficult to go around the market and buy enough tableware to set a table for a full dinner.

Perhaps this is not the right venue for that … the Kunsthåndværker Markedet does show the work of some of the best craft artists in the country but on the other hand it does deliberately call itself a craft market and not an art fair.

read more

Kunsthåndværker Markedet


Kunsthåndvæker Markedet - the annual craft fair on Frue Plads in Copenhagen - will open on the 11th August and continue on the 12th and 13th.  Frue Plads is the square across the north side of Vor Frue Kirke in the centre of Copenhagen.

Organised by the association for crafts - K&D or Danske Kunsthåndværkere & Designere - there will be more than 130 stalls at the market. The list of major designers and makers from across Denmark who are showing their work is strong for ceramics and glass and jewellery but there will also be work by basket makers, textile designers and graphic artists.

This is an amazing opportunity to see and to buy some of the very best craft work from Danish designers and makers.


Kunsthåndvæker Markedet, Frue Plads, Copenhagen

Thursday 11 August 12.00 -19.00

Friday 12th August 10.00 - 19.00

Saturday 13th August 10.00 - 16-00

Georg Jensen and Kähler at northmodern


Two well-established and well-known Danish companies exhibited at northmodern this year and there was an interesting and very marked contrast in the way each approached the presentation of their products.

The silversmith Georg Jensen opened his first store in Bredgade in Copenhagen in 1904 but the company now has major stores and retail agents Worldwide selling a phenomenal range of silverware, glassware, tableware and jewellery and commissioning work from a wide range of designers. Their display for northmodern was in the main entrance and dramatic with a long pergola in scaffold draped with ivy and a series of long tables set in line and covered with pink linen with products from Georg Jensen set out like the trophies of weapons and and foliage and prizes found carved in swags around fireplaces or painted on panels or along cornices in great palaces and country houses. The display was primarily about self-confidence and justifiable pride in the products of the company … not the place to decide which design you might or might not buy.

Georg Jensen


Kähler trace their origin back even further to a family-run pottery established in Næstved in 1839. Their stand at northmodern was also about pride in their product and about continuity and customer loyalty. At the centre of the tightly-packed stand was what appeared to be a very efficient desk with computer screen and so on for placing orders … very much the long established role of the trade fair as being a place where manufacturers and buyers from retailers meet and do business. 

A display like this shows clearly the importance of a strong back catalogue and the importance of well-established customer loyalty to a brand but it is also an important opportunity to showcase new designs … here a new range from Kähler called Kaolin designed by Cecilie Manz.


Handmade in Hundested


In the area Hand Made at northmodern there were two craft workshops sharing a large stand under the heading HANDMADE IN HUNDESTED. Hundested is a small harbour on the north-west coast of Zealand and in fact the workshops are neighbours on the quay.

Nanna Backhaus Brown and Andrew Brown are glass makers producing a wide range of bowls, vases, decorative works and lamps in coloured glass. Their display included a workbench with their tools and films of the work process to show, in particular, how rods of coloured glass are used in gathers and then blown to form fine and intricate linear patterns in the final pieces.

Backhaus Brown


From the neighbouring workshop in Hundested - Egeværk Møbelsnedkerie - cabinet makers Lasse Kristensen and Mette Bentzen showed their work. Again there was a workbench and tools and again incredibly refined and beautifully finished examples of their work. 



One of the chairs, A Touch of Mac, was designed by Hannes Stephensen and made in the Egeværk workshop as a collaborative piece for the Petit - the Cabinetmakers’ Autumn Exhibition held at Øregaard Museum in September and October last year. This is chair number two, the piece shown at Øregaard being now in Paris for the major annual event Maison & Objet.



Other pieces showed their approach to adapting designs to the specific requirements of their customers helping them to choose appropriate timber and finish and able to customise the size of furniture or make specific pieces designed for a specific space. 

Both trained in the workshops of PP Møbler but are are now teaching their own apprentices with three currently attached to the workshop.

Egeværk Møbelsnedkerie