the danish chair - an international affair

 

chairs in the collection of Designmuseum Danmark in the display that was designed by Boris Berlin and completed in 2016

Designmuseum Danmark have just published a book about chairs in the collection of the museum. Most of the chairs are from the 20th century and most are Danish although there are several chairs that were made in the 19th century -  an English Windsor Chair, an American Shaker Chair and Chinese chairs - that have been included because their forms of construction influenced Danish designs - and there are some modern international designs including chairs from England, Italy, Austria, Germany and the USA that help to set the Danish furniture in a wider context.

Essentially, the book takes the form of a catalogue with separate entries for nine stools and for 104 chairs with each on a double-page spread although for 31 of these the entries continue over to a second double-page that is used for historic photographs of the chair or for reproductions of working drawings.

Descriptions for each chair are succinct with most of the entries just over a hundred words although several are shorter and only two of the chairs have a text that goes into a second paragraph.

This certainly gives the book a clear and tight discipline.

Because this is not a continuous narrative text, it reads more like good museum labels and that is appropriate as the book accompanies a new gallery for the collection of chairs in the museum that was designed by Boris Berlin and completed in 2016.

With a relatively unusual format - the book is 150 mm wide and 270 mm high - the initial impression is that this is a handbook or even a pocket guide but at 32 mm thick and printed on heavy, good-quality paper this is a hefty book so would need a large pocket.

Although it is tall and narrow,  the double spread of facing pages gives a good and attractive square format. My only criticism of the book is that several interesting historic photographs and illustrations that have been placed across two pages are broken and distorted by a tight gutter.

Christian Holmsted Olesen, the author of the book, is a curator at the museum and wrote a seminal book on the work of the Danish furniture designer Hans Wegner - Wegner - just one good chair that was published as the main catalogue for an exhibition at Designmuseum Danmark in 2014. His introduction here is short but wide ranging and puts chair design in the much wider context of Danish design in the 20th century.

His aim is to show "how the so-called Golden Age of Danish furniture design was shaped by the study and refinement of historical furniture types," so the chairs in the book are not presented chronologically or by country but grouped by type … by form of construction. Types here are slightly different from the categorisation of form types in the museum gallery - presumably to be less specifically Danish and slightly more obvious for the foreign reader. The most straightforward change is that Shaker chairs, Chinese chairs and steam-bent chairs and the Klismos type of chair and Round Arm chairs - all types specified in the museum display - have been re-arranged in the book and those groups given new names. There is a new category for "Peasant chairs" - here including the influential Shaker chair from the collection and the well-known Church Chair by Kaare Klint and the People's Chair by Børge Mogensen - and the rest are divided between Bentwood chairs and Frame chairs.

In the book the categories for form or type are:

Folding stools and chairs
Low easy chairs
Peasant chairs
Bentwood chairs
Frame chairs
English chairs
Windsor chairs
Shell chairs
Cantilever chairs

Each section is prefaced by a list of the specific chairs of that type or of that form along with the useful outline sketches that were developed for information panels in the exhibition.

The book concludes with profiles of nine prominent and influential Danish designers …. Kaare Klint, Mogens Koch, Ole Wanscher, Børge Mogensen, Hans Wegner, Finn Juhl, Arne Jacobsen, Poul Kjærholm and Verner Panton.

Again, these are short accounts but authoritative - presumably for the general reader who wants more information for context - and finally there is a short but again useful list of recommended books for finding out more.

review of the museum chairs

The Danish Chair an international affair
by Christian Holmsted Olesen
Designmuseum Danmark with Strandberg Publishing 2018

layout and cover design: Rasmus Koch Studio

  

Designmuseum Danmark
Strandberg Publishing
Rasmus Koch Studio

Pictograms used in the introduction to the exhibition for a diagram of the types of chair and to represent the specific chairs in each type are used here as stylish end papers to the book and then as a quick-reference index at the start of the section on a type or form of chair … here Low easy chairs. Most chairs have a double page spread - so here the Windsor Chair by Ole Wanscher from 1942.

There are historic drawings for some chairs - here the Y or Wishbone Chair by Hans Wegner and historic photographs including the assembly hall of Kvinderegensen in Copenhagen - the university hall of residence for women with the chair designed by Rigmor Andersen in 1931.

The last section of the book has short accounts of the lives and the training and work of nine designers “who shaped their field.”

 

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.

A longer review of Træ, Saks, Papir will be posted here  

Danske Kunsthåndværkere og Designere

Else-Rikke Bruun

 

the exhibition continues until 20 December 2018 at
Officinet, Bredgade 66, Copenhagen

Koglen / The Artichoke by Poul Henningsen 1958

 

Koglen / The Artichoke was designed in 1958 for the then newly rebuilt pavilion on the Langelinie promenade.

There are 72 leaves or petals to the light arranged in 12 lines of overlapping leaves or petals of graded size diminishing from top to bottom and angled out and down to control the light and obscure the light source to cut out glare.

With four sizes - of which the largest has a diameter of 840 mm and is 720 mm high with a weight close to 28 kilo - the lights have a dramatic impact - even in the largest space. The original lights had a copper finish although options now include versions painted white or with leaves in polished steel and, to mark the anniversary, there is a numbered edition in brushed brass.

Louis Poulsen

The Sympathy of Things

 

Perhaps it seems odd to recommend here a programme on BBC Radio about design when it was not specifically about architecture and design in Denmark but The Sympathy of Things that was first broadcast at the beginning of November raises what seems to me to be incredibly important general points.

The two programmes were presented by Amica Dall and Giles Smith of the architecture collective Assemble and they explored ideas about the designed and manufactured world and considered a wide range of problems about our relationship to the things that surround us everyday from "pavements and handrails to hairdryers and cereal bowls" and, along the way, asked the head of design why IKEA don't make toilets.

In our concerns about sustainability and in our growing uneasiness about global production, we may have reached a point of self doubt that is comparable to the conflict of feelings and soul searching about early factory-produced goods that, in the late 19th century, lead to the formation of the Arts and Crafts movement not only in England but also in Denmark and in other European countries.

We still seem to have an odd or at least an unresolved attitude to the relevant roles played by artists, craftsmen and designers and can be ambivalent about the benefits or not of mass production so now is certainly the time to consider and discuss this as we tackle issues like our use of natural resources, pollution from production and the growing impact of transporting goods from countries that have had low labour costs as the dominant economic model in a profit motivated society.

An important point made in the programme was that "there wouldn't be anything mass produced without the knowledge about how to do it by hand" but the problem is that as more and more is mass produced in remote countries, our skill base and, personally, our direct understanding of materials and how we use them is being lost.

Giles Smith suggested that “Learning to make things and to engage in richer more active relationships with materials can help you locate yourself in the world and witness your reliance on other people's skill and labour.” Is that indulgent … an attitude that is only possible in a wealthy country … or should it be a wakeup call for a World that seems increasingly disconnected?

 

The Sympathy of Things Part 1
The Sympathy of Things Part 2

Assemble

SHARING - an exhibition to celebrate completion of work on the entrance court of Designmuseum Danmark

 

Major work on the entrance courtyard of the deign museum in Copenhagen has just been completed.

The gate piers and ironwork across the street frontage of the 18th-century courtyard have been rebuilt; cobbles across the area relaid; the entrance and ticket area for the museum has been moved out to a pavilion on one side of the courtyard along with a small coffee shop.

Five free-standing display cabinets have been constructed so that objects from the collection can be brought out from the museum to the forecourt and the first exhibition in this revitalised space has opened.

For the first exhibition here on the entrance courtyard, new design is now being shown under the title SHARING. An information panel explains the ideas behind this major project and is quoted here in full ……. 

The works in these five new display cases on the entrance courtyard are ….

CLAYDIES
Ceramics by Karen Kjældgård-Larsen and Tine Broksø

KASPER KJELDGAARD
Dele al familien / Parts of the family 2018

MARGRETHE ODGAARD
Blå red violet / Blue Red Violet textile by Kvadrat

KIBISI / BIOMEGA Bjarke Ingels, Jens Martin Skibsted, Lars Holme Larsen
Elcykel / E-bike OKO Night Glow 2017

ASTRID KROGH
En firkant af universet / A Square of the Universe 2018 LED

L1310953.jpg
 
 

MONO - Snedkernes Efterårsudstilling / the Cabinetmakers’ Autumn Exhibition 2018

Piqué
designed by:
Hannes Stephensen
produced by: Snedkersind v/Kristian Frandsen

Sunrise
designed by:
Lise og Hans Isbrand
produced by: MoreWood Møbelsnedkeri ApS

 
 

The Cabinetmakers Autumn Exhibition for 2018 has just opened at Thorvaldsens Museum in Copenhagen.

SE - Snedkernes Efterårsudstilling - The Cabinetmakers’ Autumn Exhibition - is an association of 81 designers and manufacturers. Each year their board select a venue for their exhibition and set a theme along with any specific rules for a particular year - often to do with dimensions but this year also stipulating colour - so each work will be restricted to just one colour with the choice limited to either the natural colour of the material itself or to one of the strong and distinctive colours used in the original decorative schemes of rooms in Thorvaldsens Museum.

Each year, guest designers and guest manufacturers can apply to show their work. 

When setting the theme for this year, MONO was suggested to imply a range of associated ideas through monochrome, monolith, monopoly and monologue.

A subheading for the exhibition - furniture shaped by craftsmanship and insight - is important and significant: these pieces highlight the skills and the experience of the cabinetmakers who, in some pieces, take their chosen materials to new extremes and, in all the works, push their workshop techniques to the highest level of quality. So the exhibition is in part about the style and the form of each work but because, the cabinetmakers also represent a long and well-established craft tradition in Denmark, these pieces are about understanding the materials, to know what can be done and how, and to use incredible skills to shape, finish, join, refine or reduce the parts that make each work.

There are forty one works in the exhibition. Most were produced in a partnership between a designer and a cabinetmaker or furniture manufacturer - in many cases a  partnership that is now well-established over many years and over several projects shown at the Autumn Exhibition although several pieces were both designed and made by the same person.

The exhibition is also an opportunity to experiment or to produce designs that might otherwise not be commissioned … the aim is not only to challenge the skill of the maker but also to challenge the preconceptions of the visitor.

 

the Autumn Exhibition continues at Thorvaldsens Museum until 9 December 2018

Thorvaldsens Museum
SE - Snedkernes Efterårsudstilling

Cupola drejestol / Cupola swivel chair
designed by:
Niels Gammelgaard
produced by: Northern Layers

En stol / A chair
designed by:
Foersom & Hiort-Lorenzen
produced by: Kvist Industries A/S

Introvert position
designed by:
Andreas Lund
produced by: Toke Overgaard

Rum / Encircle
designed by:
Troels Grum-Schwensen
produced by: Malte Gormsen

2Gether
designed and made by:
Steen Dueholm Sehested

Bloom
designed by:
Hannes Stephensen
produced by: Egeværk

Beside
designed by:
Line Depping
produced by: Skagerak Denmark A/S

Guldlok / Goldilocks
designed by:
Monique Engelund
produced by: Sune Witt Skovhus

 
 

MONO - exhibition catalogue

 

The catalogue for the Cabinetmakers’ Autumn Exhibition in 2018 at Thorvaldsens Museum in Copenhagen has a general introduction to the exhibition by the selection board and then for each work there is a double-page layout with a full page black and white photograph for each of the works.

These monochrome images are dramatic and chime with the theme of the exhibition but also give a strong emphasis to the form of each work.

Some pieces have a descriptive or evocative name - so Calm or Look don’t touch and a cabinet for the display of special possessions has the title Ego - while other titles are more straightforward, with works described as Chair or Table and Chair.

Of course the catalogue sets out the name of the designer and the name of the cabinetmaker or the company who realised the work and each entry includes the materials and the dimensions of the piece.

There is also a short paragraph on each work to set out any thoughts that inspired the design or to talk about technical details - many of the pieces use material in an innovative way or the construction is much more complicated than is immediately apparent - and there is a translation in English.

Graphic design is by Studio Claus Due and the black and white photographs were taken by Torben Petersen.

Snedkernes Efterårsudstilling / The Cabinetmakers’ Autumn Exhibition 2018

Thorvaldsens Museum

Studio Claus Due

 

Arne Jacobsen at Designmuseum Danmark

the newly repainted and rearranged display in the Jacobsen gallery at Designmuseum Danmark - the chair standing on the floor is The Ant designed in 1952 and in the case above, against a reproduction of the design Spirea from 1954, the Cylandline range from 1964-1967

The House of the Future designed by Arne Jacobsen with Flemming Lassen for an exhibition in 1929

 

Sometimes it can be as interesting to look at the display cases and the style of the information labels and the lighting in a museum as it is to look at objects on display … and, for obvious reasons, more so when you are in a design museum.

At Designmuseum Danmark they have a space dedicated to furniture designed by Arne Jacobsen. I'm not sure of the date of this display but I would guess that it is over twenty years old.

It is a substantial structure and is itself quite a design item so I can see exactly why it should be kept.

The space is actually square and is on a main through walk down the right-hand range of the museum but under a false ceiling, lit to throw light down into the space, there are three curved areas with raised platforms to make the space circular and that is where furniture by Jacobsen is displayed and there are two large shallow display cases recessed into the walls plus wall space for photographs and panels. These curved platforms pick up shapes in the House of the Future that was designed by Jacobsen in 1929 - in partnership with Flemming Lassen - and as the display includes a copy of a drawing for that house so the echo must be deliberate.

The advantage of this form of display is that the furniture is lifted clear of the floor, giving the pieces at least some protection, but the pieces can still be examined up close and raised up so anyone interested can see some of the details of the construction particularly on the underside.

 

earlier in the summer:
the chairs for St Catherine’s College Oxford; the chairs for the SAS Royal Hotel and a Grand Prix designed in 1957 and The Giraffe for the dining room of the SAS Royal Hotel

photographed this month:
desk and chair for Munkegård Elementary School; The Egg, a Swan Chair and The Drop for the SAS Royal Hotel designed in 1958; an Ant Chair from 1952 and the Skovsneglen / Paris Chair by R Wengler designed by Jacobsen in 1929

 

Display case with flatware AJ designed in 1957, a lamp for St Catherine’s College and the Vola range of taps from 1969

Cylinda line - ‘hollowware’ designed in 1967 and produced by Stelton

Jacobsen is without doubt one of the most important designers from the classic period of modern Danish design in the 20th century and is certainly the Danish designer who the most foreign visitors will know at least something about so I can see exactly why he is given this special treatment.

A recent remodelling of a space further along the same gallery pulls together in one place some of the works in the collection by Kaare Klint but presumably it is felt that to separate out other individual Danish architects or designers for the same treatment would be too greedy on space and make the museum displays rather too fixed in the works and the themes that they explore.

The Jacobsen gallery has just been redecorated and looks good for its fresh coat of paint and for the replacement of photographs that had begun to curl at the edges. What is more interesting is that some of the furniture has been moved around and new pieces brought in so chairs designed by Jacobsen for St Catherine's College in Oxford in the 1960s have been removed. These were less obvious key pieces in the history of Danish design although they show the most refined and most sophisticated use of plywood for furniture in any designs by Jacobsen. They have been replaced with a chair and a desk and a sample of the fabric designed by Jacobsen for Munkegaard Elementary School in the early 1950s.

The main chairs that Jacobsen designed for the SAS hotel in Copenhagen remain - the Egg, the Swan Chair and the Drop - all still in production sixty years later - but the Giraffe Chair that Jacobsen designed at the same time for the dining room of the hotel has gone back to store which is a pity because it shows a very different style and form of chair but just one that did not receive the same popular acclaim as the other designs.

My one criticism of the display is that it shows the ever-present Danish understatement and modesty about what Danish design did and does achieve.

The display cases show the cutlery and the glassware and lighting and so on that Jacobsen designed for the SAS Hotel and there is the absolutely remarkable thing. Arne Jacobsen designed the SAS Hotel, and the air terminal that was originally in the same building, in a style and with a method of concrete pouring that was barely known in Scandinavia and untried at the time in Copenhagen so just for the building design and construction a huge challenge. It is known that Jacobsen had a small drawing office - certainly very small by modern standards - and the core team was actually working in an office in his own home outside the city in Klampenborg in a way he had developed in both the first and the second house as well as this the third house he designed for himself and his family. Yet at the same time, and in a remarkably short period, he designed not just a complicated and challenging building, but also all the furniture including six chairs, at least two of which became truly iconic designs and four of which used innovative materials for an almost unique form of shell design (the first chairs were made with expanded polystyrene)  and he designed carpets, upholstery textiles and all the tableware needed for a large hotel and all equally innovative and all in a period of about five years.

This work by Jacobsen for the SAS Hotel is often described as a good example of gesamtkunstwerk - total design - but even in Denmark that should be taken to be a bit of understatement. Surely the hotel and its interior should be lauded as one of the most incredible personal achievements by any architect in the 20th century.

Designmuseum Danmark

 

MONO - Snedkernes Efterårsudstilling / the Cabinetmakers’ Autumn Exhibition

 

This year the venue for Snedkernes Efterårsudstilling / the Cabinetmakers’ Autumn exhibition is the Thorvaldsens Museum in Copenhagen and the theme is Mono … each work will be restricted to just one colour with the choice of colour limited to either the natural colour of the material itself or to one of the strong and distinctive colours used in the original decorative schemes of rooms in the museum.

The works are also restricted in size to a maximum foot print 90cm by 90cm although the height is limited only by the height of spaces within the museum.

Below is publicity material published earlier in the year with the call for submissions to be considered by the exhibition selection committee. 

MONO - ’furniture with a maker’s touch’ opens on 2nd November 2018

 

MONO - a piece of furniture with a craftsman’s understanding
For Mono, this year's SE exhibition, furniture will be created that demonstrates an engagement and passion for shape, colour and material. Furniture that individually and together expresses quality but also a rhythmic, narrative and simple whole.

With MONO we want to create an exhibition consisting of single-coloured / MONOchrome furniture, furniture that emphasises the individual designer's personal message / MONOlog, and this in conjunction with Thorvaldsenś MONOlithic sculptures and Bindesbøll’s beautiful building

Background:
There are two strong personalities that emerge when you say Thorvaldsens Museum. Bertel Thorvaldsen, to whom the museum was built and whose works it contains and Michael Gottlieb Bindesbøll who is the architect of the building. Both of them, through their work, represent great craft knowledge and a pursuit of the perfect. In addition, Thorvaldsen and Bindesbøll were incredibly adept at using the past in a new and modern way, Thorvaldsen through his new interpretations of ancient history and Bindesbøll through his personal way of using inspiration from Pompeii and Herculaneum.

This year's theme invites:
That the craftsmanship is challenged, perhaps through a new interpretation of the Danish furniture tradition.

That the inner "furniture thread" comes into play, preferably by combining new and old technology. Like Thorvaldsen and Bindesbøll, we strive for the perfect.

That through the materials, the form and the colour, the aesthetic and ethical presence of the furniture is reconsidered.

The goal is for newly thought-out furniture that expresses craftsmanship but also creates a narrative and simple exhibition in interaction with the two great masters.

Requirements for dimensions, materials and colours:
The furniture must have a maximum of 90x90 cm in the floor. The height is free but the furniture must be able to stand everywhere in the museum.

The furniture must be monochrome (one colour) and this can be either the wood's own colour or one of the colours from Thorvaldsen’s museum:

 
 

Louisiana Jubilæum 1958 / 2018 - the chair and the lamp designed by Vilhelm Wohlert

To mark the sixty years since the Modern Art Museum at Louisiana opened, the Louisiana Chair and the Louisiana Lamp have been re-released.

Both were designed by Vilhelm Wohlert who, with Jørgen Bo, was the architect for the museum and the chair and the pendant lamp can be seen in the museum restaurant that has been refurnished for the anniversary.

Louisiana Butik

 
  1. the Louisiana Chair displayed with the tall bar stools in the Butik at Louisiana

  2. the Louisiana Lamp in the Butik

  3. the chairs designed by Vilhelm Wohlert in the museum restaurant

  4. the taller stools with back rest in the museum restaurant

 

Practice Futures

 

A major exhibition, Practice Futures, has opened at KADK - the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation.

The full title of the exhibition is Technology in Architecture, Practice Future, Building Design for a New Material Age, and this is an import examination of that area, if you see it in terms of a Venn Diagram, where the disciplines or professional expertise of architecture, engineering, techniques of construction and the development and the technology of materials meet and overlap.

Fifteen research projects are presented here from international PhD students working in six major European research departments and working with fourteen established partners including major architectural practices, engineering companies and construction companies.

These ongoing studies are reassessing well-established materials such as timber and concrete and rediscovering or reassessing or developing techniques to shape, bend, finish and join materials to achieve new forms of construction such as large scale, computer-controlled extrusion or printing and the development of new materials for large-scale building projects. 

This is about new tools and new approaches for reassessing traditional materials and established craft techniques but also about using computers to assess complex information; to solve unconventional design problems and to control systems for constructing new forms and new types of building. 

Projects presented here are prototypes to demonstrate customised solutions to realise challenging new construction projects that not only have to take into account the need for high energy conservation but also have to tackle rapidly-developing problems or social pressures from population growth, and, as a direct consequence, find new solutions to the demands of cities that are growing at an unprecedented speed. This is construction design trying to deal with political and economic constraints and with the added and pressing demands of global climate change.

KADK Udstillingen og Festsalen
Danneskiold-Samsøes Allé 51-53
1435 København K

the exhibition continues until 7 December 2018

 

Sustainable Chairs - Nordic Design Competition

hjemmeside_nordic_chair.jpg
 


Organised through The Nordic Council of Ministers, there is a competion to design a sustainable chair that takes into account sourcing of materials and production and distribution but also considers use and disposal … a complex and demanding design brief.

The closing date for submissions is the 3rd October 2018. A short list will be drawn up with a maximum of ten designs from each of the Nordic countries. The winner from each country will be shown in the Nordic Pavilion at COP24 - the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Katowice in Poland in December 2018.  

There are details on the web site of Danske Kunsthåndværkere and Designere

 

CHART Architecture - the Pavilions

FRAME
designed by Malte Harrig, Karsten Bjerre and Katrine Hoff

 

In the two large courtyards of Kunsthal Charlottenborg are five pavilions … the setting for what is called CHART SOCIAL.

These pavilions or CHART ARCHITECTURE are the winning designs from an open competition held earlier in the year for young architects and architecture and design students.

 

 

OPEN RESOURCE
by Dennis Andersson, Mikkel Roesdahl and Xan Browne

THE MANY CHAIRS PAVILION
by Sofia Luna Steenholdt, Joachim Makholm Michelsen, Emil Bruun Meyer and Casper Philip Ebbesen

TIGHT KNIT
designed by Jan Sienkiewicz

SUM OF US: A CLOUD OF HUMAN EMOTION
designed by Sean Lyon in collaboration with Space 10

 

Dansk Møbelkunst at CHART DESIGN FAIR

 

Dansk Møbelkunst are one of twelve galleries exhibiting at Den Frie in Copenhagen for CHART DESIGN FAIR. They showed some superb and unusual or rare modern furniture and, as always, of the very highest quality. There was a pair of chairs designed by Kaare Klint in 1931 and called Mix. Edvard Kindt- Larsen may have collaborated in the design of these leather-covered arm chairs that were produced first by the cabinetmaker N C Jensen Kjær and then by Rud. Rasmussen.

Also shown was one of the high-backed chairs designed by Arne Jacobsen for the top table in the hall of St Katherine’s College in Oxford and a set of three of the bed-side drawer units originally in the Royal SAS Hotel in Copenhagen.

Den Frie

Dansk Møbelkunst

 
 
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LOKAL at CHART DESIGN

 

The Finnish gallery LOKAL were at CHART DESIGN at Den Frie. They showed several pieces by the company Nikari who have their workshops in the historic settlement of Fiskars to the west of Helsinki.

Edi Table by the Norwegian design studio Claesson Koivisto Rune was designed in 2015; the Café Skandi stool by Kari Virtanen is from the same year and from 2009 the Nikari Linea Chair is by the Swiss-born designer, carpenter and teacher Rudi Merz.

Nikari were established in the 1960s and have built up a reputation for making furniture of the very highest quality. They follow the well-established practice of cabinetmakers in Copenhagen in that they work closely in partnership with a number of the best designers on specific projects and these will certainly be the collectors’ pieces of the coming decades. However, furniture should be chosen because you really like it and it fits with what you want for your home … good furniture used everyday enhances our lives. If furniture holds its value or even appreciates then that is surely just a bonus?

Looking at the Linea chair carefully you can see features and details of the techniques of the carpenter that are distinct from Danish designs and these differences are important … marketing furniture from the Nordic countries in a co-ordinated campaign, where possible, does make sense, but only if it does not erode the distinctions that give the different designers and the different companies their personalities and clearly discernible styles. To produce a generic ‘Nordic style’ could, in essence, be done by any designer anywhere but nurturing distinct national talent gives the ‘brand’ - if that is what you want - a stronger and a much more dynamic future.  

Nikari

Abstracta by Kasper Akhøj from Galleri Feldt

 

Galleri Feldt were at CHART DESIGN at Den Frie gallery in Copenhagen with a fascinating show of the display system designed by Poul Cadovius in 1960. 

It was a modular system with metal tubing connected by knuckled joints to form cubes of different sizes to create a flexible display system for exhibitions. The joints were the key to the system - each with up to six prongs in eight different shapes. Cadovius even used scaled up frames to construct geodesic-style domes that were used at the Copenhagen Furniture Fair in 1961. 

A module of the system is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art - donated by the business man Charles Mauro after he negotiated with Cadovius to manufacture and sell the tubing and the links or joins in the USA. 

In 2006, when travelling through the countries of the former Yugoslavia, the Danish artist Kasper Akhøj was intrigued by what seemed to be an almost ubiquitous display system surviving in shops and department stores but also used on the street for market stalls. 

Then, and on subsequent trips over the following twelve years, he pieced together the story of how the Danish system was produced first in China and sold to the Yugoslavian state and then was manufactured in various forms in Yugoslavia … the spread of the system reflecting the complex political situation and an uneasy relationship with the concept and then the reality of consumerism in a communist political system. Akhøj  acquired pieces and their packaging and part of the collection was on show at Den Frie.

Galleri Feldt have produced a pamphlet - a folded poster - with text by Ronah Sadan setting out the story. To quote the conclusion ……

… the history embedded in the structures Akhøj produces, imbues them with ontological instability and, by extension, turns them into symbols for the vulnerability of artistic agency: as Abstracta’s fate ultimately eluded Cadovius’ control, the fate of Akhøj’s work - and of works of art in general - is ultimately not in its originator’s hands.” 

Løsninger - exhibition of work by graduates from the School of Architecture, Design and Conservation

 

 

There are just a few more days to see the work of the 232 architects and designers who graduated this summer from the schools of architecture and design at Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademis Skoler for Arkitektur, Design og Konservering - KADK or the Danish Royal Academy of Architecture, Design and Conservation.

 

the exhibition is open every day to the 19 August 2018
KADK
Udstillingen og Festsalen
Danneskiold-Samsøes Allé 51-53

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. 

Clayform
Den Danske Keramikfabrik

 

Helene Vonsild at Frue Plads

 

The textile designer Helene Vonsild was at the market on Frue Plads with a wide selection of the designs that she markets through her company 1+1Design. 

As well as commercial designs for textiles she uses fabrics she designed for Kvadrat to produce a range of cushions and bags. 

A shoulder bag with an adjustable strap in dark grey rubber was interesting because it illustrates well an important aspect of good design that is not discussed enough. 

The straps for the bag, with a series of slots and with notches along each edge, is an industrial product used for tree ties … a robust strap to hold a young sapling against a supporting stake … so strong to prevent the tree moving and snapping in wind but soft so it does not rub the bark of the tree with any movement and adjustable so it can be moved outwards as the tree grows or as a new and thicker stake becomes necessary.

Fixed to the bag with the right size and the right colour of button it could hardly be better for an easily-adjusted shoulder strap. This is a designer using ingenuity ... seeing an existing product in a new way for new uses or identifying a problem and finding the best way to come up with a solution.

1+1Design