Things do not appear from nowhere

By Ole Jensen, 2000. In connection with suggestion for new service on the occasion of Royal Copenhagen’s 225 year anniversary, 2000.

By Ole Jensen, 2011

Form and Imagination
By Ole Jensen, 2012

The Hærvej Project
By Maria Desirée Holm-Jacobsen, 2010

Ole – Extraordinarily Ordinary
By Pernille Stockmarr, Design
Historian, 2006

Crafts 2003
By Ole Jensen, 2003

Things do not appear from nowhere
By Ole Jensen, 2000

New Studies
By Ole Jensen, 1996

Do we need new things?
By Ole Jensen, 1996

Water, jug and art
By Ole Jensen, 1994

Let enthusiasm reign
By Ole Jensen, 1992

’Most of the time, one is a relatively normal man busy with necessary and
practical things. From time to time, one sends some design into circulation.
A simply way of existing as a human being. A simple way of writing design
history. At the moment of writing, my new porcelain service is not ready for
presentation. But if things go as planned, the public will meet thin, almost
universal porcelain forms with predominantly recognisable signs and motifs
such as: dandelion leaves, landscapes, starry skies. So if anyone should get
the idea that the man at a relatively mature age has become a particularly
sensitive soul, I imagine I could live with that. For sensitive is in fact something
I have always been. And there are sure to be really many people who are
likewise. When I completed my studies at the Kolding School of Design as a
young man, I decided, along with photographs of humble objects I had made
myself, to copy on my page of the final-year catalogue the first verse of Jakob
Knudsen’s hymn ’See the sun now rises from the lap of the sea/the air and
wawes burst into flame, into gleam/what great rejoicing though all is quiet/ as
light lands on world’s coastline’. I did that because precisely these lines, along
with the hymn tune by Oluf Ring, have always given me a special sublime
feeling. But my courage deserted me. It was simply too good. So before the
actual printing took place, I replaced the humn with ’I want to build myself
a home…’(A wellknown danish children song). An understable swap, perhaps.
Despite everything, still dealing with longing – and with music in minor key.
But undeniably more lightweight. I do not now know if I am particularly
sensitive. Or especially musical. It would be hard to work without a certain
degree of confidence in what one intuitively feels.

Everything can be problematised. So it has been a pleasure, just for once,
to have plenty of time for an assignment. The assignment – to make a ’service
of the future in porcelain’ – can of itself give rise to a problem and a concern.
I have decided that precisely that must not be allowed to get the upper hand.
Probably because I am a ceramist and not a researcher into the future.

When I began the assignment, my imagination and ability to form a conception
were for a long time unable to get any further than that my contribution would
probably be yet another new, minimal construction that could wedge itself into
another not totally filled-in crack in the belief in simple, honest and completely
neutral 0 solutions. Despite my eagerness to all the time take sober decisions
and only to be the absolutely necessary – and no more – the results seemed
to be the exact opposite. Imprecise and really unnecessary. Like some worn
out modern thing. At any rate, like something I could not right now find any
meaning in making into a serious matter. When, almost in fit of oppressive
honestry and impotence, I placed the first tentative signs and strokes on the chaste forms, I was also momentarily affraid that I was in throes of committing
artistic hari-kiri. But for the first time in my work i saw a dawning possibility
for artistic creation and, first and foremost, the beginnings of a more important
and more comprehensive story than that of as little as possible. When I
have later had to talk about my project, I have noticed that the explanations
switch rapidly from the one to the other. Explanations about dandelion leaves,
practical functions, landscapes, coldness and warmth get mixed up in a
fragmented mess. As in a song, the lack of an argument is experienced as
an argument in itself. I will hopefully get some control over that. At any rate,
it has been liberating for a time to escape the role of creative teetotaller.
Heaven knows, a simple lifestyle, order, frugality and economising with means
are fine qualities. And when things acquire the excellent characteristic such as,
for example ’less is more’, it is usually because things demonstrate and reveal
themselves as being an example of the fact that less can be more. But less
of something is not always enough, and less naturally does not always do
the job. Not when design is a stake, either.

About the service and its use. I have been too clever to go for sushi and too
old to be able to leap onto a new culinary fusion. Instead, it transpired that
I was seized by an urge to compose using signs, forms and colours that were
begger than the need to interfere with what and how people are to eat. That is
why I have ended up with a sevice that can be used for Russian caviar, Italian
spaghetti or Danish curly kale soup.

The porcelain is thinner an lighter than most porcelain available in the shops
today. A stack of plates does not weigh very much. So far, the service
comprises four plates, four bowles, two cups and a couple of jugs. All of them
round (revolving bodies), from quite small to fairly big, but with only four
diameters. In that way the plates can always be used as covers on the bowls,
cups and jugs. Then there are two oblong dishes and oven dishes, for which
the dishes can act as covers. ’The system’ is more a good idea than a stroke
genius. I have discovered that it is practical to find out how to use and to cover
a wide range of needs. The really big dish is neither of these. But it has been
included nevertheless. Though all this part of the development work I have
been greatly assisted by Nanna Simonsen, who is a cook. As an adversary
when my practical assumptions were to be disproved – and to compensate
for my lack of knowledge about things gastronomic. Also, though, as an
inspiring partner.

With regard to manufacture of items, there have been very few bindings
in the assignment. Although, with hindsight, I can see that i have throughout
greatly benefited from the professional and craftsman expertise of the
’anniversary’ manufactory. That is why I have called the article: Things
do not appear from nowhere!

Can a round, white porcelain plate with a handpainted green dandellion leaf
represent anything new? And is it a desperate undertaking in a world that
demands international dynamism to retail a statement that reeks af regional
melancholy? Inside my head, the service is a composite unit. But, despite
everthing, it is an artistic statement rather than a rational modern argument’