Fællesskab anno 2019 - Biennalen for Kunsthåndværk & Design /

Community anno 2019 - The Biennale for Craft & Design


The Biennale of Danske Kunsthåndværkere & Designere - the Association of Craft and Design - is a major exhibition for craft in Denmark with a prestigious prize.

Following an open call for ideas for works on a theme of Community, eighteen were chosen for the exhibition at Nordatlantens Brygge in Copenhagen - an impressive 18th-century, brick warehouse at the centre of the inner harbour. The Biennale is in a gallery space on the attic floor with good light from windows on both sides so low, strong natural light, forms shadows across the space, as the sun moves round the building, but that light emphasises the confident use of deep colour and strong element of texture in many of the works.

Some of these works are about family - about the gift of food at the table or about memories of lost loved ones - and there is a strong sense of exploring - exploring through play and exploring through senses not always associated with design - specifically taste as in flavour - as well as the obvious senses that mean we can appreciate carefully designed shapes or the choice of a colour in beautiful and well-made object.

These are exceptional and unique works, formed, in large part, from common and everyday materials but, primarily, they are works that express individual imagination so are about communicating ideas … in some cases complex ideas. Shape and form and colour, choice of material and even technique of crafting those materials are all used as a way to communicates and become as valid as language and spoken words …. what Pernille Stockmarr identifies in the catalogue as "archetypal forms that make up a common primeval source of inspiration."

Several of the projects were produced together with other artists and the biennale is clearly an opportunity to share experiences and increase debate and discussion …. more than appropriate given the theme for the exhibition of Community.


Jury of the Biennale exhibition in 2019

Anni Nørskov Morch, exhibition curator of Koldinghus 

Maria Foerlev, owner of design gallery Etage Projects 

Pernille Stockmarr, curator at Designmuseum Danmark


Prize Committee for the Biennale in 2019

Pernille Stockmarr, curator at Design Museum Denmark 

Christina Zetterlund, freelance curator and lecturer at Linnaeus University in Sweden 

Peder Rasmussen, ceramist


Yellow at Officinet

An exhibition at Officinet - the gallery in Copenhagen of Danske Kunsthåndværkere & Designere - to show the works of the Danish artist Torgny Wilcke and the English artist Simon Callery.

Both artists have used the colour yellow for a common element and both use what are essentially functional every-day materials - for Callery heavy canvas and Torgny Wilcke timber and corrugated metal strip for roof covering.

Both work on a large scale with a strong presence in the space and both hint at potential practical uses for their works … the wall pieces by Simon Callery reference storage and the large floor pieces by Torgny Wilcke have been used for seating so they are challenging boundaries between art, craft and design.

Both use proportions to bring order and to assume control of the space in the gallery. 


the exhibition continues at Officinet,
Bredgade 66, Copenhagen
until 24 March 2019

Danske Kunsthåndværkere & Designere /
Danish Association of Craft and Design

Torgny Wilcke

Simon Callery


TRÆ, SAKS, PAPIR / Wood, paper, scissors

Karmstol, Stitched wood and a Skammel and Massive weaving


Knitted wood

Massive weaving and Folded wood

Knitted weaving and Folded wood

Knitted wood

An important exhibition of recent work by the furniture designer and architect Else-Rikke Bruun has just opened at the gallery of the Association of Danish Crafts and Designers in Bredgade .

There are several strong themes running through the works shown here but perhaps the most interesting and surprising idea is about not just defining space but also exploring shadow as a strong component as if it is itself a material element in the design.

Five screens in wood - the main works - define space but also occupy space and very considerable care was taken to set the lighting and to use the natural light of the gallery so strong shadows on the floor dissolve the sharp edge between the vertical of the screen and the horizontal surface of the floor and views through the screen and light coming through the screen from the other side change as you move round the space.

After completing her training as an architect Else-Rikke Bruun studied Arabian architecture for three years and here not just the fragmenting of light but also the use of precise geometric forms show the influence of Arabian architectural forms. Walking around the exhibition Else-Rikke explained that she is fascinated by patterns and the way we look for patterns and geometric pattern has a strong role in architecture of the Middle East, North Africa and southern Spain.

Influence from Japan is acknowledged both in the way the screens and the arrangement of faceted blocks of wood in the chair and in small panels reference the Japanese art of folding paper - two panels in wood are titled Origami panel - but also there is the sense of a Japanese aesthetic in the calm and measured division of space - a key feature of the way the pieces have been arranged in the gallery.

All the works shown are made with incredible precision so they also have the quality of fine engineering - particularly in the way separate pieces are linked or joined together or have different forms of hinge: all the screens can be articulated to adjust the angles of the parts or the alignment of the whole screen and Knitted wood folds back in on itself.

Another strong theme is inspiration from textile art and that is shown directly in the titles of three of the works … Stitched wood, Massive weaving and Knitted wood. This is not just about how elements interlock - Veneer has what are in fact giant warp and weft in cut plywood - but, as with woven textiles, the visual character from a distance is different from the complexity and subtlety that is revealed as you move closer.

Four of the works exploit the properties of laminated wood and develop different techniques for cutting to shape, bending, linking or interlocking plywood.

Use of colour is important but generally subtle … the screen titled Massive weaving uses spray paint so colour is strong on the cross-cut ends of the battens but fades out along the length. This work was developed with the colour artist Malene Bach. Generally subtle except that Knitted wood has a strong colour on one side that counterposes the shadow as you look through the interlocking curves.

The exhibition is the culmination of over a year of work specifically but actually develops and builds on themes that were first shown by Else-Rikke Bruun in the craft Biennials in 2015 and 2017.

Immediately  before the exhibition Else-Rikke Bruun had a residency at Statens Værksteder for Kunst / Danish Art Workshops in Copenhagen and in a longer review here both the development of the main ideas and themes of the exhibition and the role of the workshops in giving artists access to space and equipment to realise their work will be discussed.

Stools in Oregon pine were made by Anders Petersen Collection & Craft in Copenhagen.

Karmstol, the chair in the exhibition, took, as a starting point for its design, round-headed niches at each end of this gallery. It is not strictly site specific but does hint at just how carefully-considered this work is with strong references to the design of Classic Danish chairs while experimenting with both form and construction techniques. It is an important piece that blurs our artificial boundaries between art, craftsmanship and utility and will be the subject of a separate post.

Danske Kunsthåndværkere og Designere

Else-Rikke Bruun

 30 November 2018 - 20 December 2018
Officinet, Bredgade 66, Copenhagen

Mød Vikingerne / Meet the Vikings


A redesign of the exhibition space at the National Museum in Copenhagen for the display of their collection of Viking artefacts was opened officially yesterday.

A first small square gallery has an introduction to this new display with images of three warriors and larger than life images of the king Harold Bluetooth and Tova his queen with the reconstruction of a throne. There are important items from the museum collection but displayed along with rubber portrait heads.

In the main gallery beyond, one long wall has further large figures of characters from the Viking period with a merchant, a housewife and so on and with each given a pen portrait or short back story.

My first reaction was that I wasn't sure if I was being introduced to Vikings warriors who were the first competitors from an early version of the Roskilde Festival naked run - but with fancy head gear - or to hipsters who have been living in Vesterbro since 875 AD and to kings and queens who were unbelievably attractive people who had just had a sauna and scrubbed up well before going to the equivalent of a casting session at HBO or Netflix but in the 9th century.

But actually, although I'm being sarcastic, I'm not about to launch into an attack although there has been some heated discussions in the press over the last couple of days about how authentic the costumes are or if some artefacts have been shown together when they are not contemporary and much about where on their bodies Viking men had tattoos … or not.

These costumes and setting for the reconstructions are by the Danish designer and author Jim Lyngvild although the museum has been quick to emphasise that these are based on current academic reassessments although much has to be speculative because, for instance, fragments' of rich silks brought back from the middle east have been recovered from excavations but few garments.

However, on balance, it is a good attempt to make us, the visitor, look again at our view of Viking life and Viking culture and particularly if that view is confined to stories of long ships and warriors wearing horned helmets who headed off on raids to plunder and pillage.

The story here draws attention to trade, culture and governance and looks at just how far Danish traders travelled and just how much was brought home from not just Baltic neighbours but through trade and conquest of Northern England; from settlements in Ireland and then south through areas of France and by the Viking traders travelling through the Mediterranean to trade with the Middle East to bring back valuable goods from as far away as Persia.

But the exhibition is also careful to point out that the vast majority of the population stayed at home with the wealthy taking care of large estates farmed by peasants and servants. The role of women was more nuanced than we might assume for with men away trading or fighting, aristocratic Viking women may have had a large degree of freedom and power. The exhibition also looks at recent ideas on the role of women in these expeditions abroad. Women would have travelled with the fighting ships to form new settlements and although some may consider the idea of shieldmaidens as a myth, some warrior graves have been identified as female graves.

I learnt a lot. For a start Viking men seem to have been fastidious about grooming and in one excavation of grave goods they even found silver ear spoons. I actually looked but IKEA seem to have dropped them from their catalogues sometime since the 10th century.

the new exhibition is at Nationalmuseet, Prinsens Palæ, Vestergade 10, Copenhagen

Nationalmuseet  / National Museum


Brooches that were part of a hoard from Hornelund near Varde. The fine filigree work and the form of decoration with vine leaves indicate that they are by Danish goldsmiths and date from the second half of the 10th century. 

Hoard from Terslev in Zealand with silver weighing nearly 7 kg including an astounding 1,751 coins. Buried in second half of the 10th century. A large bowl may have come from Persia showing the huge stretch of Viking maritime trade.

Sword from 800-900 AD found in Søndersø Lake in Northern Jutland. It has elaborate decoration with silver thread and fragments of the scabbard suggest it was not lost in battle but was possibly part of an offering of thanks.

Bagsider / Flip Sides


For the Golden Days Festival this year the theme was The B-sides of History so, for this exhibition, the curators at Statens Museum for Kunst took that literally and present the backs of paintings and drawings in their collection.

And it is fascinating.

The exhibition is relatively small and shown in an almost-square gallery space just off the Sculpture Street with views out over the park so there is pleasant natural light and it is well worth spending time here to look at the works and read the well-written and thought-provoking labels and information panels. 

A number of paintings and drawings are shown in double-sided display cases - so that you can examine both sides - but most are turned face to the wall and they are grouped under four themes:

  • process, technique and conservation

  • recycling

  • back or front?

  • traces and signs

The first group looks at materials used to make a work of art and it is fascinating to see how considerable craftsmanship went into producing the ground for the painting or drawing particularly for paintings here on panels or on planks of wood but there are also examples of important studio techniques like pricking holes in an initial drawing so that pounce or black powder could be used to either transfer the outline or to reverse the image.

Several works show how a drawing or painting could be abandoned and the other side used for a different work.

In a few examples the view of the back shows that both sides of a work were in fact to be seen - particularly for doors that covered an altarpiece that would have an image to be seen when the door was closed and a second image that was revealed when the door was open and it flanked the main central panel. However several works play clever games with that idea so a work by Cornelis Gijsbrecht is the solid door of a cabinet but painted as if it was glazed and with the contents of the cupboard as an image and with some items painted as if they were stuck to the inside of the glass. The back of the door has a painting of the back of what was stuck to the glass. One work, also by Gijsbrecht, shows what appears to be the back of a unpainted wooden frame held with wooden pegs and with nails and the back of the canvas but the whole thing is painted.

For the social historian or simply for anyone curious about how paintings can be dated and their attribution confirmed, then the back of a painting can reveal huge amounts of evidence from plausible to incongruous techniques that do or don’t tally with what the painting on the front is telling us to makers labels for the panels or canvases the artists bought ready made to the labels from auctions or the labels and notes pasted on the back by collectors or by galleries.  

the exhibition continues at Statens Museum for Kunst until 10 March 2019


The reverse of a Dutch painting - a half-length portrait of an old man painted in the late 17th century on two planks of oak. The planks include sapwood, which is unusual and the curators conclude this suggests the at the panel was not of the highest quality. Note how the edges are bevelled to hold the panel in slots on the inner edge of the frame.

If a work is to go to an exhibition with several venues so might need a more controlled environment, then the gallery produces special frames where the work is sealed in a ‘micro climate’.

A painting of Board Game Players by Pieter SymonszPotter (1597/1600-1652). On the back is a drawing of a castle or manor house and the seal of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf with the name of the artist.

Labels on the back record that the painting by Carpeaux was shown in exhibitions at the Petit Palais in Paris and the Musees de Nice.

The label on the back shows that A View from the Temple of Athena on the Acropolis from 1844 was painted by Rørbye on millboard from Robert Davy, a London frame maker and restorer, but as Rørbye is not known to have visited London then the board may have been bought from a foreign dealer and possibly while he was travelling.

A trompe l’oeil by the Flemish painter Cornelis Gijsbrecht with what appears to be a canvas in a frame but all painted.

Painting of working horses cut down and used for a new work.

Untitled work from 1945 by Asger Jorn (1914-1973) The artist had returned from Paris and his style of work was going through a period of transition so, in effect, abandoning a work to paint a new work on the back might be seen to reflect this. The photograph on the left shows the painting on the front.

Flammespor / Scorched traces - ceramics by Charlotte Nielsen



Ceramic works by Charlotte Nielsen that are fired using raku techniques that traditionally means rapid firing at a high temperature and rapid cooling so the fired clay takes on the colours and the sharp look of weathered and rusted iron. These incredible pieces are inspired by ironwork with ribs and spirals that make the pieces look like worn machine parts. 


Danske Kunsthåndværkere & Deignere
Bredgade 66
14 July until 18 August 2018



This exhibition was shown first in Milan in April 2016 as one of the events of the annual design week in the city. As with the comparable exhibition last year - Mindcraft15 - it was curated and the display was designed by GamFratesi - the Danish Italian design partnership of Stine Gam and Enrico Fratesi. It was organised by the Danish Arts Foundation and the Agency for Culture and Palaces.

There are works here from 17 designers or design studios and the pieces demonstrate not only a very high level of craftsmanship but the works in different ways explore boundaries we seem to impose between craftsmanship and product design and art. Materials include ceramic and wood and textiles but there is also a light installation and music.

The main theme is the imagination and the intellectual process of design - that balance between understanding the materials and the techniques to be used but then wanting to push boundaries - to question, to inform, extend and develop ideas and challenge our preconceptions about how something should look and question what we want and why and how we value art and craft works and how we use objects. It’s about alternatives and discovering new possibilities.  

Gam and Fratesi suggest that the display of the pieces on revolving stands represents exploring the idea itself … from that moment of conception and how a design evolves first in the imagination and then through a number of stages. In part, the stands represent the different areas of the brain thought to be responsible for that process but also by turning they set up different views of each piece and different relationships between one piece and the next to stimulate an interaction.

There is a short introduction in the catalogue by Tor Nørretranders who has written on human consciousness and about how we make sense of the world around us. He makes an important point about the relative roles of the subconscious and the conscious part of the mind in the process of making anything so how both instinct and reasoning are used in that sequence of designing and then making. 

He also makes a link that I had not thought about before … in talking to the visitor, he suggests that when looking at and appreciating a piece it is important to "Thrust your immediate intuition, your like or dislike, your non-conscious, hands-on direct experience."

Surely that is also what the maker does, literally with hands on, during the process of throwing a pot or blowing molten glass or cutting into wood with a chisel or when selecting the right glaze or exactly the right colour for a particular thread … and that is they are making an assessment or a value judgement, part instinct, part training and part experience, part broader knowledge of materials or historic context, to decide what looks right and what feels right for what they 'had in mind' … or what they designed or planned or had drawn before they started to make.

Maybe that is why a work by a craftsman, the maker, is generally more highly valued than anything made by a machine - not so much that it is unique but that each piece is the product of continual checks and balances and decisions through the process of production. 


Mindcraft16 continues at Designmuseum Danmark in Copenhagen until 8th January 2017


deal with it by Rosa Tolnov Clausen


Den Nya Kartan - Form Design Center Malmö



An initial report by Jenny Nordberg, begun in 2013 and completed through 2014, looked at how small-scale production of furniture, ‘gadgets’ and other design objects could be part of a sustainable community within Skåne, a clearly defined and relatively small region. The report considered ethical values in consumption and looked generally at production and at manufacturing skills surviving in southern Sweden. In part it seems to have followed a growing desire that more food should be produced locally. 

One aim of the consequent project is to reduce transport costs for both materials and for finished goods but also it was hoped that focusing design and production locally would also mean that there would be fewer intermediaries in the commercial chain. 

Early in 2015 twenty-four designers were selected along with twenty-four manufacturers to collaborate in the project. They were chosen in part for their curiosity about the project but also for their openness to trying new business partnerships.

Many of the designers had worked both locally and internationally and the manufacturers ranged in scale from craftsmen, who are generally geared up to small production runs, to companies organised for larger-scale production. Each partnership was given freedom to determine what they would produce and how and much came down to developing personal as well as working relationships.

This project has also been about testing the form of collaboration, between designer and manufacturer, and aimed to establish a more equitable financial arrangement that moved away from the normal pattern of royalties for rights to reproduce a design to agreements where the designers and manufacturers share the expenses incurred in development and initial production but then also share the revenue.

Items or objects produced through the project cover a wide range of materials and manufacturing techniques including blown glass, ceramics, metal work, leather work and textiles and a wide range of items from stacking boxes to storage jars to lighting to jewellery and a champagne table.

That last item emphasises one curious aspect of the works presented. It would appear from the introduction to the exhibition that the designers and manufacturers were given freedom to choose what they would produce. Jenny Nordberg, who also curated the exhibition, commented on this:

“As a curator, I imagined that most people would design and produce saleable inexpensive items to show that it actually does not need to be particularly expensive by local production. There, I thought wrong. It has instead been mostly projects where both designers and manufacturers wanted to challenge themselves and show the breadth of their skills. Many of the projects … are unique, conceptual, luxurious, on the verge of unfeasible and overall, just amazing.”


Biophillia - Stoft & Zol Art

Unisex-kimono-kofta - Liv Andersson & Biommiga Gredelina

Vaporware Fluid

Andréson & Leibel och Humi-Glas (samt JFKemi)

Spegelrör  Petra Lilja & Wallåkra Stenkårlsfabrik


Petra Lilja & Wallåkra Stenkårlsfabrik


Milan Kosovic & Thomas Alexandrsson


Sophia Lithell & Herman Andersson Plåt


Patrik Bengtsson & Genarps Lådfabrik


It is not clear if this shows that designers or manufacturers were concerned primarily to showcase their skills but that seems unlikely given the well-established careers and reputations of most. Possibly they wanted to use the opportunity to produce things they would not normally be able to work on. It could be more of a problem, in terms of ongoing viability and the possibility of extending the project, if they all felt that reasonable financial returns would only be possible through producing more expensive items or if they thought that their potential market would not be interested in buying just basic items. Perhaps it is simply that, at this initial stage in this project, more basic designs - so everyday household items such as tableware - actually need a much larger production run to return a profit.


All the designs are available through the web site.

the exhibition continues at Form Design Center in Malmö
until the 15th November and then transfers first
to the National Museum in Stockholm and then in 2016 to Vandalorum in Värnamo.

Den Nya Kartan - The New Map

Hjemlighed .... homeliness



Ten designers, architects and craftsmen have come together to exhibit their work in a private apartment in Lavendelstræde - a street in a tightly built up area of historic buildings just to the east of the city hall in the centre of Copenhagen.

It is an amazing apartment spread over two upper floors and the attic space of the tall, narrow 18th-century house with a striking mixture of original parts, including the roof structure, but with modern features such as an open metal staircase, a long wall of modern kitchen units and an area of glass floor between the attic bedroom and the kitchen and dining room on the level below.

The kitchen area opens onto a large roof terrace with views over the Copenhagen skyline looking towards the tower of Vor Frue Kirke. 




This is not just a chance to see a very striking apartment but, of course, to see the works displayed in a home, in the rooms of the apartment, along with books and furniture and kitchenware of a very real domestic setting.

Perhaps we have created false divisions between craftwork, such as tableware, that we can use in our homes, and the works of artists working in the crafts that we see as gallery pieces. These works, in this exhibition, were not, specifically, designed and made to be contained in an art gallery or museum - although many of these artists have their works in museum collections - but they can and should be seen and appreciated in a home. These pieces stimulate comment, attract admiration, stimulate discussion, stir people to decide if they love, like or even dislike the pieces. Owning and enjoying original art and craft pieces is not exclusively the prerogative of the public gallery or the private wealthy collector but original works of art or of craftsmanship really do have a place enhancing our lives in our homes.

Works shown here range from ceramic multiples through printed cotton squares displayed on a clothes drier on the roof terrace, to a bench in smoked oak supported on upturned stoneware vessels and there are monumental architectural urns in stoneware. Porcelain lights over the main table are a homage to the iconic Danish PH lights and striking jewellery in braided or plaited white plastic beads, forming deep ruffs for the wrist or ankle but set in a framework of a house, reflect the title of the exhibition. The one odd work, and only odd because it was large and set diagonally it fills and dominates the space of the bathroom it is displayed in, is a long narrow glass case with an arrangement of single socks with no pair.

This piece, Finds by Morten Sørensen, illustrates really well one very important role of art which is to point out or isolate something that either we have not thought about or points out an absurdity or a universal experience that we rarely even think about. Other works show how artists experiment with materials and forms pushing boundaries that really should not be there and multiple works are a really good way of emphasising subtle differences or step changes or variations.

toPHøj in porcelain by Anne Tophøj

Indretning in stoneware by Marianne Nielsen and Kristine Tillge Lund


I tid og utid by Anne Tophøj and Theis Lorentzen

Base in oak, aluminium and stoneware by Anne Dorthe Vester and Maria Bruun


Architects, designers and artists taking part include:

Anne Fabricius MøllerAnne Tophøj, Anne Dorthe VesterMaria BruunJohan Carlsson

Katrine BorupKristine Tillge LundMarianne NielsenMartin SørensenTheis Lorentzen


Hjemlighed ... an exhibition at
Lavendelstræde 8, 1462 København K
continues until 15th September.

Kunstforeningen af 14 August at Paustian



Works by twenty artists selected by Kunstforeningen af 14 August are currently on display at Paustian at Kalkbrænderiløbskaj in Copenhagen. 

As well as furniture, sculptures in glass, ceramics and jewellery, the pieces shown here include a table textile by Margrethe Odgaard, a woven Alpaca textile by Karina Nielsen Rios, a framed textile, Flag Domestic, by Vibeke Rohland, a bench seat by Rud Thygesen and baskets by Bent Vinkler.

The exhibition continues through until 5th September.