Each year Denmark’s ” Agency for Culture and Palaces ” and the ” Danish Arts Foundation ” sponsor a showcase of new and original Danish craftsmanship during Salone del Mobile in Milan.
Called MINDCRAFT, it brings together both well-established and emerging talents across a wide field of crafts, from product design to textiles and from fashion to sound installation.
The combination of the words MIND and CRAFT highlights the goal of the exhibition series, which is to showcase the capacity and potential of a field that spans from experimental, innovative and conceptual design to the technical proficiency and material knowledge from crafts.
For the second year running, MindCraft has been curated by the Copenhagen based, Danish-Italian design duo Stine Gam and Enrico Fratesi of GamFratesi
This year’s presentation at the Circolo Filologico Milanese ( a 19th century Institute dedicated to studying the origin of written language and books located on Milan’s via Clerici ) was themed around 17th and 18th century ideas about how the human mind works and the thought process behind design.
Seeing the mind as the first project becomes a mental form in itself.
The idea was again inspired by the venue …. ” The Filologico is a place where they think about how things originate. So, we thought of going back to the origins of the first project and the answer was the mind.”
In the centre of the hall, 33 x connected carpet-covered podiums spin gently to show work by 15 designers from a range of disciplines, who are either Danish or live and work in Denmark.
The circular platforms were connected with bands, which in turn connected to five motors that drove the rotation of the discs. This was intended to echo the way that the different disciplines represented within the exhibition are connected to each other.
“At one point people through there was a kind of mechanical mechanism in the brain moving one part to another, and this is actually a very poetic translation of what is real,” said Enrico Fratesi.
The dark patterned carpet, featuring a pattern inspired by blood cells, also covered the walls and fades to a pale pink as it neared the ceiling, was paired with red lighting to suggest the idea of being inside a human organ.
A soundtrack combining sounds that suggest being inside a human organ and more recognisable musical instruments plays in the room and is composed by Irv Johnson.
” We asked what is the origin of a design project, before thinking about the material, before analysing the project, it starts with the mind, so the idea was to try and get a piece of the mind of the different artists into the exhibition and to show what is the mind of Denmark somehow ” … GamFratesi
“So in the exhibition one work can influence the other work and how this perception of this area has been anaylsed by another artist, so going through the exhibition is also moving a different topic in a different way,” ……. GamFratesi
The survey of today’s Danish designers focuses on experimental and conceptual designs with an emphasis on craft and technical proficiency.
The designers and craftspeople selected to take part in MINDCRAFT16 have each interpreted the theme “In My Mind Craft” in their individual works –
MINDCRAFT16 participants included : Benandsebastian // Anne Dorthe Vester and Maria Bruun // Christina Schou Christensen // Rosa Tolnov Clausen // Freya Dalsjø // Dark Matters // Yuki Ferdinandsen // Halstrøm-Odgaard // Ole Jensen // Irv Johnson Music // Marianne Krumbach // Akiko Kuwahata // Cecilie Manz // Nicholas Nybro // Vibeke Fonnesberg Schmidt // Øivind Alexander Slaatto and Henrik Vibskov.
Though these pieces are all different, there is something they have in common – they are all highly crafted and combine conceptual design with traditional and experimental techniques.
Most of the projects were at the intersection between various disciplines – including art, architecture, interior design and fashion, but also set design – making sure that Mindcraft 2016 was again able to engage a wide audience across different media.
Upstairs, a second darkened room was meant to represent the subconscious where each choice influences our future choices and mental processes.
Dark Matters‘ “Undecided Impressions” visual installation focuses on digital patterns and showed their animations on four horizontal screens arranged in the middle of the room at different angles
Together, these fragments form the swirling and often chaotic pattern of impressions we deal with and are shaped by every waking moment of every day.
‘Undecided Impressions’ was inspired by the perceptual process that unfolds in our minds, as we observe the world around us and take in new sensory impressions.
In this mental and emotional process, colours, forms and expression create thousands of combinations in our mind, some fleeting and elusive, while others stand out and leave a lasting impression.
On an individual basis, we discard most of these patterns or combinations while choosing to latch on to a few and stow them away in our minds for future reference.
The visual installation was actually developed in a complementary process with Irv Johnson‘s music composition, “… After ”
The composition represents an unfettered stream of consciousness and was developed in a complementary process with Dark Matters’ digital installation ‘Undecided Impressions’.
…..After builds on the idea of the interactions in our mind between the multi-sensory impressions we take in and between these impressions and our inner thoughts, moods, feelings, experiences and sensations.
The music was present throughout the exhibition, framing and reflecting its overall theme and appealing to the subconscious perspective. Although the music is imbued with specific emotions, these should merely be experienced as suggestions, allowing for the much wider consideration that is implied by the theme.
Rather than being a static composition that is simply looped to achieve a continuous, the music consists of several layers or sequences that are interwoven in a randomized process.
Danish designer Freya Dalsjø reinvented traditional elements such as buttons, sleeves, fastenings, collars and cuffs, employing them in unconventional ways and using materials without taking care of body proportions.
What exactly defines something as a garment? Fashion designers are faced with certain constraints, some defined by the human body, some based on unwritten but time-honoured traditions and cultural expectations.
‘I New It’ takes all the usual elements that make up a garment – buttons, sleeves, fastenings, collar, cuffs – and puts them together in a way that is not constrained by the proportions of the body. Unconstrained, the process can now lead to innovative shapes and unconventional material combinations in a piece where intricate embroideries add a soft note to an angular and unconventional expression.
‘I New It’ explores what happens when the traditional approach is turned around, emphasizing process over outcome and testing the ability of the body to adapt to the framework of the design. Instead of a linear design process that follows a given method or a set of rules, Freya Dalsjø explores how designers can change the design process to give themselves the freedom to experiment.
Another Danish fashion designer, Nicholas Nybr, came up with an installation that celebrates idyllic long summer evenings in Denmark while prompting people to consider the effects that fear and alienation may be having the country.
In response to a feeling that fear and alienation is affecting the political climate and changing the Denmark he knows, Nicholas Nybro chooses to embrace his Danish identity and celebrate the qualities he is proud of.
In the two pieces that make up Denmark on my Mind, this is represented by a symbolic celebration of idyllic summer evenings in Denmark where the light gradually shimmers and fades but never quite gives way to darkness.
The two pieces transform the body’s silhouette, as dress and body fuse into one and are transformed into a sculpture.
The main material is raffia, which is sewn onto the fabric in dense rows and subsequently cut into shape, like a hairdresser working on a hairdo.
The raffia is combined with striped cotton fabric, reminiscent of traditional peasant shirts. In combination with the sculpted raffia, the overall effect sparks associations to fragrant hay, harvest time and idyllic summer.
This year Henrik Vibskov for example created two dichotomic installations:
SUB3 explores the idea of a physical encapsulation of the human mind. It is designed as a transparent organic shell that both embraces and reshapes its guest – maybe even redirecting the mind and taking it to new places.
SUB3 is a host, a physical and mental space that seeks to induce a new and pleasant mental state in its occupant and the beholder.
The project was inspired by early scientific ideas about the nature and workings of the human mind.
In the theory and practice of phrenology, the shape and proportions of the skull were seen as a map of our inner mental life, and cranial measurements, known as craniometry, were seen as a way of gaining insight into the human mind from the outside
In contrast to the soothing and calming space of SUB3, however, it explores a state of mind that is bordering on insanity, depicting external pressures in the form of a noisy crowd of constantly blabbering wooden heads.
Their broken language simulates the extreme and overwhelming information flow we are all exposed to today: an unstoppable stream of information and misinformation that threatens to drive us nuts.
In form, the heads are a postmodern and Asian-inspired take on the traditional nutcracker.
In an eerie mix of imagery, the bright colours spark associations to puppet show marionettes, while the sticks might point to the mediaeval custom of displaying the severed heads of slain enemies, mounted on stakes.
Mindframes by Øivind Alexander Slaatto are a series of hour glasses designed to keep users sane in a busy world.
The geometry of the design makes the intervals twice or three times as long when the glass is turned upside down, which helps you structure your day in a way that makes rooms for the crucially important breaks: a 1-minute brainstorm followed by a 2-minute break; an intense 45-minute working period followed by a 15-minute break; an 8-hour workday complemented with 16 hours of free time for sleep and recreation.
Øivind Slaatto’s timekeeping device for the modern world is a tribute to gravity, which is at the root of the natural cycles that have guided our life on this planet since the beginning of time.
Gravity determines the rate at which the earth rotates around the sun as well as its distance to our source of light and warmth, and thus, gravity defines night and day, winter and summer and the phases of the moon.
Our modern lifestyle, however, has put the natural cycles under pressure, and breaks are often seen as a waste of time.
But creative minds are never idle, and therefore we need breaks to recuperate, process and reflect.
“Breathe” by Japanese designer and cabinetmaker Akiko Kuwahata uses patterned glass and maple to create optical effects on a chest of drawers
Inspired by a paragraph by the Danish existential philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, the bureau is constructed as a place of work as well as an incomplete system of thinking that will assume new meanings and functions only when the user will start working on it, projecting their ideas into its empty drawers and vacant spaces.
Moving from architectural principles and structures, the “Breathe” chest of drawers features instead a glass panel decorated with a frosted pattern of slanting stripes; more stripes, but angled in the opposite direction, characterise the sides of the wooden drawers.
A similar pattern has been cut into the sides of the wooden drawers but angled in the opposite direction. When a drawer is pulled out, this decorative device creates a fascinating visual dance, as the stripes move towards and past each other, flickering in and out of contact.
This interactive dance is created not just by the pattern in the wood and glass but also by outside factors including the light in the room and, not least, the person pulling the drawer.
Akiko Kuwahata’s inspiration for this device came from her reflections on the creative process itself. This process relies on a multitude of sources, including the maker’s own ideas and experiences as well as influences from the outside world: other people, natural phenomena, art, books etc.
All these experiences are combined and transformed in the creative process, just as the expression of Breathe is transformed when it is set in motion by a human hand.
Heavy Stack is an experimental series of objects that explores the potentials of form, materials and aesthetics.
The objects are made of hollow extruded ceramic rings stacked on top of each other, almost like bricks, around a load-bearing oak construction.
The main structural inspiration came from architectural principles and structures, while the materials and the finish point more to furniture making and crafts. Thus, function is not the goal here but instead served as a source of inspiration for form, construction and materials.
The production process combines elements from industrial production and crafts: The ceramic rings were made on a brickworks extrusion machine fitted with a special nozzle, while the resulting tubes were shaped into circular or oval rings by hand.
The series is part of the duo’s ongoing exploration of the potentials of ceramic elements as a structural component in furniture, combined in this case with a new-found fascination with the process and potentials of extrusion.
Art duo benandsebastian – Ben Clement and Sebastian de la Cour – presented a teak and brass bureau that is an extension to their Museum of Nothing project, which invites viewers to consider absence as a historical presence.
The bureau is constructed as a place of work and also as an incomplete system of thinking. Like other parts of the Museum of Nothing, its potential lies in what is projected into it: the promise of ideas that might fill its empty frames and vacant spaces.
A source of inspiration for the piece is the following paragraph by the Danish existential philosopher Søren Kierkegaard: ” A thinker erects an immense building, a system, a system which embraces the whole of existence and world history etc. – and if we contemplate his personal life, we discover to our astonishment this terrible and ludicrous fact, that he himself personally does not live in this immense high-vaulted palace, but in a barn alongside it, or in a dog kennel, or at the most a porter’s lodge. If one were to take the liberty of calling his attention to this by a single word, he would be offended. For he has no fear of being under a delusion, if only he can get the system completed – by means of the delusion. ”
‘Deal with it’ is a tangible visualization of Rosa Tolnov Clausen’s overall method and design vision.
A key focus in this process is the intersection between the carefully planned and the unpredicted, the results that emerge when systematic and analytical approaches are subjected to random factors and events.
For this project, Rosa Tolnov Clausen defined five design parameters – basic weave, decoration, base colour(s), decoration colour(s) and composition – which she then combined with yarn in fifteen preselected colours in a randomized process.
The random selection process compelled her to use combinations of colours, patterns and techniques she might not otherwise have picked.
By disrupting and tripping up her systematic working process, this element of chance brought out new and unexpected results by forcing Rosa Tolnov Clausen to deal with it and explore new solutions and expressions.
As a further challenge to her creative process, she used a basic handloom, which only allows for a fairly limited set of variations, thus further highlighting the expressive role of basic elements such as colours and yarn quality.
Sølvgade Chair by Cecilie Manz is a seat made from pine
The path to the crisp, clear, calm vision that becomes the finished design often winds its way through entire forests of doubt and chaos.
Discarded details, a waste heap of ideas, doubts, clarity, doubts – selection and rejection.
The space among the growing piles of model foam, dust, cardboard, pins, wood and coffee forms a surprisingly productive space for creative and conceptual thinking. Sometimes it takes an entire hay stack to produce a single needle.
‘Primal Pottery Project’ by Ole Jensen are objects made in red clay, from a potter’s wheel with new and surprising expression.
In original cultures, utilitarian objects are often perceived and depicted as a body or a head, complete with ears, feet or legs.
In this series, Ole Jensen returned to these early roots of ceramics, rediscovering and giving life to a set of primal forms that almost seem to draw breath – ready to reach out and find their place in our surroundings.
In Ole Jensen’s creative interpretation, the theme of this year’s exhibition – In My Mind Craft – simultaneously engages mind and intellect, body, material and object. In his hands, the theme has found an expression in shared human symbols, signs and references with inspiration from early pottery.
The resulting objects are made in red clay, and on his potter’s wheel, new and surprising expressions have been allowed to take form in the moment.
Vibeke Fonnesberg Schmidt showed a series of layered plexiglass lamps are based on geological formations and the original Star Wars films.
Geological formations in the form of hexagonal basalt rocks on the west coast of Scotland provided part of the inspiration for the shape and colour scheme of these one-off floor lamps.
Apart from the geological inspiration, their expression was also influenced by modernism and, as Vibeke Fonnesberg Schmidt explains, even the feel of the original Star Wars films.
Each of the six components that make up the lamps consists of two sheets of partially overlapping laser-cut Plexiglas in different colours and translucencies, either opalised or fully transparent.
The hexagonal structures are held together with brass fittings and combined in clusters of three or more.
Cosmos by Japanese silversmith and metal chaser Yuki Ferdinandsen is a collection of silver patterned dishes
In ‘Cosmos’, the pattern suggests a similarly powerful release of energy.
Here, the release results in a galaxy formation, as the gravitational centre slings hundreds of fragments into space in a spiralling motion.
The pattern on the three ‘Hanabi’ (‘fireworks’) dishes bursts out from the still centre of the silver disc. The number of dots remains the same throughout the disc, but they vary in size and gradually move farther apart. The effect creates the impression of a sudden release of energy, like an explosion radiating out from the centre.
Here, though, the energy appears to have been trapped inside the vessel, tearing a slightly jagged hole in the centre as it burst free.
In stark contrast to these explosive images, the patterns are created in a painstaking and almost hypnotic process.
The objects are hand-raised using a hammer with a chased surface, which produces the delicately textured surface. The meticulously planned decorative pattern is created using the ancient Japanese artisanal technique ‘ Arare ’.
Arare is Japanese for ‘hail’ and refers to the tiny bumps, which are individually hammered out. Each ‘hail’ receives about twenty hammer blows, which gives the raised dots their highly polished shine. The semi-matt moon-white surface of the lighter pieces is the result of an acid bath.
A series of objects by experimental ceramicist Christina Schou Christensen
The dishes in the ’Tension’ series explore the surface tension of glaze as its interacts with the properties of the stoneware clay, the shape of the dish, the intense heat in the kiln and, not least, gravity.
The precise outcome of the process thus depends on a variety of factors, including the amount and viscosity of the glaze itself. Variations in these factors determine whether the glaze will slide off the ceramic surface, creating new forms without the maker’s touch, or whether it binds to the clay, forming thick ripples and waves, as it is pulled this way and that.
These experiments with the surface tension of glaze follow as a natural next step after Christina Schou Christensen’s earlier projects where she experimented with the viscosity of glaze.
She carefully shapes and determines factors that she expects will lead to a given expression, but in true experimental fashion, the actual expression is determined out of reach, behind locked doors in the hot inferno of the kiln.
As a framework for the surprising and radical shapes that sometimes emerge, she uses the familiar form of the dish, which we recognize from traditional ceramics.
The hand-woven Icelandic wool and cotton miftah mattress by Halstrøm-Odgaard is an example of how design can comment and intervene about current issues such as the refugee emergency in Europe.
A mattress is the one piece of furniture we really need. The universal basis of comfort, rest and homeliness, regardless of status and culture.
The name, ‘miftah’, is Arabic for key: a physical key to a door or a home as well as a figurative key to something new.
In a comment on the current refugee situation in Europe, Halstrøm-Odgaard chose the name with the aim of sparking associations to an open door that leads to safety, a new country, culture or home and new solutions.
The small pillow doubles as an extra chair when you welcome a guest or share your home with someone else.
The textile was hand-woven at the duo’s own workshop to pay tribute to this humble piece of furniture in a weave inspired by traditional Danish peasant techniques.
The three-ply woollen yarn was designed to create a monotone surface from a distance and a random and intriguing pattern up close.
At one end of the pillow and mattress, variations in the shape and weave add a graphic detail to the design.
The Winter Series of plant-inspired stoneware by Marianne Krumbach;
What are the concrete markers of a winter mood?
What is it about a scene or an image that immediately gives away the season?
The objects in Winter Series capture small and seemingly insignificant motifs from nature, which on closer inspection prove to be essential sources of a winter mood.
This may be due to their colour scheme (cool notes, black white, brown, dark blue), their motif (naked branches, dead leaves) or their mood (stillness, death). In highlighting these minor motifs, Winter Series explores the idea that true significance may be found by dwelling on and paying attention to the seemingly insignificant.