Inboxes are rarely a source of inspiration, but recently I opened an email from Copenhagen-based designer Maria Bruun and architect Anne Dorthe Vester, who were writing to Pamono just share a recent project. Right away the images drew me in. Although I couldn’t understand at first what I was looking at, the subdued pastels surrounding the earthy and platonic objects were like eye candy. And then there seemed to be some eggs and flour in the mix. “What is this loveliness?” I wondered. So I wrote back.
It turns out that the duo had created some beautiful, handcrafted objects, and then teamed up with set designer Pernille Andersen and photographer Benita Marcussen to produce a visual story of the work. Here’s more from our conversation:
WC: How did this project originate and what was the goal?
MB & ADV: The photo series Objects of Use Vases was actually the end of a long process. Since 2012, we have been working on creating abstract artifacts at the intersection of furniture, architecture, and design—all created with an intense focus on the crafted detail. We started with a minimally functional furniture series, called Objects of Use, which was displayed in Copenhagen earlier this year at the gallery Etage Projects. Our focus was on combining materials—oak, brass, stoneware—with a scenographic setup that challenged the viewers’ perceptions and asked the question, “Is it art or is it furniture?” In spring 2015, this project received The National Solo Prize at the Spring Exhibition at Kunsthal Charlottenborg [in Copenhagen].
Our work often focuses on abstractions, like idioms, functional hybrids, and on the aesthetics of materials and form in relation to surrounding spaces. And after working with less-functional objects for some time, we decided to elaborate on the idea—on how to make the non-functional function again, and from there expand the story. So after the Objects of Use exhibition, the Objects of Use Vases came into play, with the exact same expression, quality, and material detail. The photographic series of the Vases sprang from the idea of visualizing the story and, at the same time, showing how visual storytelling can give a new dimension to objects.
WC: What was the process of collaboration like among you, Anne Dorthe Vester, Pernille Andersen, and Benita Marcussen?
MB & ADV: In this fine collaboration, we gave Pernille, the set designer, total freedom to play and to carry out her creative visions for the Objects of Use Vases. The aim was to create the perfect scene to express and accentuate the story of the vases. Pernille has a tailored eye for communicating stories with a playful, sometimes absurd material expression. We found that her work, together with [photographer] Benita’s outstanding and precise focus on light and material detail, could add a new layer to our work. As we all have a different approach and expertise in art as a form of communication, this was a perfect collaboration, and it gave us a new perspective and foundation for future collaborations.
WC: What would you like the world to know about craft production in Denmark today?
MB & ADV: Denmark has a long tradition of craft production. Throughout the years we have received wide recognition and awards for our precise expertise in crafts. In recent years, there has been an enormous focus on optimizing production processes and outsourcing, which has led to a neglect of quality. We believe, however, that the future holds a major focus on craft processes in many aspects. With our work, we want to make unique objects that tell meaningful stories and project the creative process. Luckily, there are still a lot of skilled craftsmen in Denmark who care about this, and we have the great pleasure of working with some of them.
WC: What are you working on next?
MB & ADV: Right now we have the pleasure of working at The National Danish Workshops, and we are currently working on three exhibitions for 2016. We have a solo exhibition for the Spring Exhibition at Charlottenborg, an exhibition were we focus on scenography and fragments in architectural scale. In addition, we are developing a project for the upcoming Fuorisalone in April 2016 in Milan. The project Relief is a series of spatial cabinets, which are based on architectural elements, specifically the arch and the relief. And to dot the ‘i’, we are very pleased to take part in the group exhibition If it’s a Chair for Patrick Parrish Gallery [in New York] in May 2016. For this exhibition we are working on a bench, with focus on material and detail.
We’re going to keep up with ria Bruun and Anne Dorthe Vester and their collaborators. And I hope you enjoy their unique, visual story as much as I did.
* All images courtesy of Anne Dorthe Vester, Maria Bruun, Pernille Andersen, and Benita Marcussen.
Wava CarpenterAfter studying Design History, Wava has worn many hats in support of design culture: teaching design studies, curating exhibitions, overseeing commissions, organizing talks, writing articles—all of which informs her work now as Pamono’s Editor-in-Chief.