Former architect and graphic designer turned artist dedicates her time to the formation of organic-inspired ceramics: unglazed and rough, yet figurative and soft
Malene Knudsen: Whilst I attended architecture school, I began to miss the practical side: I longed to work with my hands again. I decided to buy some clay and my own small kiln. Therefore, creating with clay was hobby-based: working with the material, the texture, making three-dimensional pieces, building my own form language and universe.
Glesni Williams: You started making the pieces in your home.
MK: I used to go to a small co-working space in Copenhagen with other creatives, where I would practice molding the clay after work, during the weekends, or holidays. This space had to close in March due to Covid-19 restrictions, so I began to create my pieces at home. On December 1st I was handed the keys to my own studio space. As my practice is no longer a hobby, I need to separate the two. Many artists find inspiration in nature, it’s a treasure of materials and textures, constantly changing.
GW: Texture is an aspect of your work.
MK: I am inspired by the form of language and contemporarily by texture. I use raw clay and I do not glaze my pieces, as I want the real, the honest. I work with stoneware clay, where I add to the material to make it coarse, such as crushed brick. Clay is a material that comes from the ground: I make it transparent that I have used a natural substance, I want the piece to look like clay. The final product is matte, not shiny, with a rough texture.
GW: What is the relationship between function and form?
MK: I want to incorporate a functional aspect to the works, with this point of view I am more of an architect than an artist. My art is focused on beauty rather than function: the sculpture and the form are the main aspects. I never put flowers in my own vases, I haven’t photographed them with anything inside as the pieces have a strong presence on their own. The studio will become a reflection of myself, who I am as an artist: an aesthetic space, my universe, a place where I find inspiration. People want to meet the maker, the artist, create a personal connection when buying or commissioning. They want to see the pieces themselves because online it is difficult to understand their size. I would like to invite them to see where I work: a showroom, open to the public.
GW: Do you have any plans to collaborate with other artists or designers?
MK: I have been contacted by a restaurant in Copenhagen to collaborate on ceramic design for their plates and tableware. In this case, the functionality of the pieces takes priority over the form. I am creating prototypes for them, seeing what works. I would like to concentrate on my second collection and continue my work with bespoke and commissioned pieces. I still need to practice my craft further and understand my own style and art even more, and then perhaps start other collaborations. I am very open to the idea of working with other creatives, artists, designers, fashion designers in the future.
Malene Knudsen is a young Danish artist and designer, whose organic-inspired ceramic pieces from her first collection have been showcased in the exhibition “1000 Vases” at Galerie Joseph during Paris Design Week 2020. Knudsen’s first ceramic collection centers on small and large vases, which have been molded into soft, organic, wave-like forms and maintain an earthy color palette. The artist has recently come into the world of ceramics, having started to learn the craft in 2018, yet her pieces demonstrate a natural ability to create and experiment with texture. Knudsen studied architecture at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and has experience in the fields of design and graphic design.