Over the past ten years, Danish craft has received a considerable number of international awards and recognition as the avant-garde of design. Contemporary Danish craftspeople often work within the cross-field of art, craft and design. They combine centuries-old traditional techniques with storytelling and modern high-tech approaches; a combination that leads to extraordinary and innovative products. »When defining what crafts are today, the majority of literary focus is oriented around aesthetics and meaning, as the field seeks out its cultural relevance for its evolving audience. Indeed, crafts are gaining prominence and meeting the market needs of a growing number of quality conscious consumers who seek products with substance. But to what extent the needs are served on the other half of this market paradigm is not given much scrutiny, unless it serves the interest of economic growth? »Danish craft traditions are at the core of production and marketing at both Royal Copenhagen and Holmegaard Glassworks. But what role do the craftspeople play? FOKUS met with Creative Director Niels Bastrup of Royal Copenhagen and Managing Director Peter Normann Nielsen of Holmegaard to talk about branding, product development and the conquest of new markets in a global world where designer names might make a difference. »In ceramicist Martin Bodilsen Kaldahl’s artistic 3D experimentarium at Danmarks Designskole, tree branches and highway interchanges combine to form countless fantastic forms – and the digital universe proves an endless source of inspiration for developing new expressions in the world of clay. »In close partnership with Dutch designers such as Hella Jongerius and Marcel Wanders the internationally acclaimed ceramics producer Royal Tichelaar Makkum has successfully launched a range of innovative product series – all in sublime quality and with roots in the crafts tradition.
Managing Director Jan Tichelaar, who was a guest speaker at Danish Crafts’ Kur07, talks about developing designs that are both pleasing and surprising, and says hat he would not dream of moving production abroad for purely economic reasons.
»The young design firm Muuto is the first Danish design firm to receive funding from the Danish venture capital fund Vaekstfonden. Muuto aims to gain a strong foothold in the USA, Japan and Australia, even before the end of 2007, with a crafts line designed by the leading young designers in the Nordic countries. »By investing in the design firm Muuto, the Danish venture capital fund Vaekstfonden hopes to highlight the design business in general and inspire other investors to invest in design and crafts. »Much has been said and written on the significance of design for the development and growth of society, but most of it is inconclusive. The advisors and decision-makers who imagine that we can design our way to wealth have no clear notion of what design actually is. Indeed it is a difficult concept. »Matilda McQuaid, who has spent 13 years researching high-tech textiles at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York, highlights the significance of crafts in innovative design processes. »Corsinel – a line of special underwear for colostomy-patients - took three years to develop. An intimate knowledge of materials was essential to the quality of the finished product. »Cultural research and development have been highly significant to Denmark’s production and growth and we have much to learn about creativity and innovation by studying successful creative environments both in Denmark and abroad. These might be Danish filmmakers, London art colleges or small but influential groups of architects. Innovation, risk-taking, creative and artistic education and research environments and cooperation between public and private companies are prerequisite if Denmark is to make the most of its opportunities internationally. »Trend- and lifestyle researcher Henrik Vejlgaard predicts an increasing demand for crafts and aesthetics. The demand comes from new, young hyper-individualists who go experience-shopping looking for unique items. »Dutch designer Hella Jongerius operates in the intersection between design, craftsmanship and state-of-the-art technology. Formerly a member of Droog Design, Jongerius is staking out an international reputation for cutting-edge innovation. Here is what she has to say about her special passion for crafts. »Danish designer Louise Campbell sees change underway. We have trouble seeing who we are and we are beginning to discover that the standardization entailed in megatrends is risky. »Contribution to the conference, Ingenuity and Critique: an exploration of curatorial practice and critical writing in the crafts, October 3, 2004, at Harbourfront Centre, Toronto »Murray Moss, owner of moss, one of New Yorks most influential design stores explains why we experience a revival, redefinition and reinvention of craft. »Ursula Munch-Petersen, one of Denmark’s foremost designers, fears that craftsmanship and the Danish design tradition are on the verge of slipping through our fingers. »We are up against a world where design is stereotyped. Perhaps arts and crafts will save us from this uniformity. These are the words of Snorre Læssøe Stephensen, head of the Institute of Product Design at the Danish School of Art and Design. »We met writer Christian Bundegaard to talk about the status of Danish arts and crafts and gain a fresh view of things. »Danish crafts artist Ole Jensen is already somewhat of a classic. He has just joined the State Fund for the Arts as chairman of the committee for arts and crafts and artistic design. We asked Ole Jensen to give us his thoughts on what makes arts and crafts unique. »Internationally renowned Danish designer Erik Magnussen, who in September garnered the National Bank of Denmark’s award of honour, has no doubt: Without arts and crafts, no Stelton thermal carafe. »