Signe Bailey at Frue Plads Marked


This was another brilliant example of ingenuity on show at the market at Frue Plads.

Signe Bailey is a designer who works with ceramics and at the Frue Plads market she showed her tableware, ceramic jewellery and distinctive and very unusual designs including the Platters … a number of spines or spindles in fired clay held in holes in a flexible collar so the angles and spaces adapt to fruit placed on or within the spines.

But I was most taken by the Vue lamp because it illustrates all that is best about good design. 

There are lots of pendant lamps on the market …. most in glass or in metal or plastic and some even in wood or basketwork. The Vue lamp is in thin, self-coloured stoneware and the lamp demonstrates all the best qualities of the material including the fact that it is matt making it seem less intrusive and warmer and much more friendly. It might seem counterintuitive but a hard material like fired clay can look soft.

Obviously it is not transparent - like glass - but here that is seen as an advantage for the primary function of this lamp is as a downlighter when it is set over a table or work surface or it can be hung lower over a side table or close to a chair as a reading lamp.

The shape is deceptively simple and beautifully elegant … in terms of geometry a cone but with gently-curved convex sides; with an open base but cut off at an angle across the top.

But the really clever part is a simple slot that is cut running out from the centre of the top to the highest point of the truncated cone and then half way down the side and this takes the flex for the bulb holder inside the lamp. A retaining ring inside keeps the lamp in position at whichever point it passes through the slot. This means that the lamp can be adjusted - spun along line of the slot - to any position from pointing straight outwards horizontally and through any angle to pointing vertically straight down.

Signe Bailey has her own company - Clayform - but she was also a founding member of Den Danske Keramikfabrik - the ceramic factory on Bornholm - established recently by a co-operative of ceramicists to make available flexible production - in terms of the range of technical production methods and the ability to produce larger quantities - that are not always available to an independent ceramicist working in a small studio.

The lamp is produced in a soft grey or off white but the close link between the designer and the ceramic factory means that lamps in other colours can be commissioned.

The design could hardly be more minimal or hardly more sophisticated and that is an important point that has to be made. The very best of minimalist design is not simple. A designer cannot go straight to simple without going through an incredible and often lengthy process of trial and adaptation and adjustment to take an idea and realise it in terms of what might actually be a complicated or variable function with a form and style that is appropriate to the material and its qualities and then reduce that design to what is essential or rather to take it back to the essence of the idea. A minimalist design of this quality is not simple or quick or easy.

On a very busy afternoon at the market Signe very kindly demonstrated how the Vue lamp can be set at different angles and let me film her. Many thanks for your patience. The Clayform Facebook page has a good video that shows the Vue lamp being made in the factory. 

Den Danske Keramikfabrik