Do we need new things?

By Ole Jensen, 1996. In connection with the exhibition ’Royal Copenhagen,
Art-Industry’, Sophienholm 1996.

TableSpace
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

The question is not whether we should create something new, but why we
have to do it.

It fortunately happens every now and then that you see a thing that somebody
has made and realize that the problem or the task has been solved in such
a simple and obvious way that it seems as if the thing has made itself. This
is every time such a moment of happiness because the solution immidiately
outshines the problem, and left in a state of mind that differs from that with
which one has calculated. Every time this happens it is a ”new” experience and
if it is possible to call something new it must be this – the artistic experience.

Is the artist there for the sake of the company or is the company there for
the sake of the artist?

That would depend on where one finds oneself.

I wish to make it clear that I perceive product development and design as
a clearly delineated field within which the product’s and the user’s interests
are being seen to, whereas the field of marketing sees to the interests of
the sellers and the buyers.

For a company it would naturally be very tempting to make product develop-
ment and sales one the same, but this model – no matter how ideal it may
seem – is the cause of our current problems. There is simply to much of
something we do not need.

I still believe that having a talent is something special. I also believe that this
talent can be developed along with the assignments this talent is presented
with, and that there is no limit to what kind of assignments a designer can take
on and regard as sufficiently important for a job. There is just one thing that
a designer cannot take on as his main job – that of selling the product, no
matter how alluringly rational it might seem to solve the product and sales
problem all at once. On the contrary, for an optimal utilization of the abilities
and qualities of all the involved parties it becomes necessary to keep these
two problems seperate.

The fact that good design often sells itself is another story and a truth that
cannot be used for anything when you approach a job.

Everything has its cost, both what you do and what you refrain from doing.
I actually lerned that when I attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts.

That is also the case when you try to create things, and the reason that design
is not just fun, but also the opposite. Everything has its opposite – fun and
seriousness, liberty and duty. If you realize this, also in your job as a
designer, the work will never become boring or exclusively serious, but
always optimistic.

Design is more than cake and festive weddings. Design is also vitamin C
and doing the dishes.

Future design will be created by committed specialists, and quality is not just
something you sell. Quality is something you give.

Deciding to do something new at all costs is an impossible job and an unhealthy
one. Instead one ought to investigate things thoroughly and thereby establish
the basis for something new to happen.

Potatoes, carrots and oranges have a certain shape and look the way they
always did, in the same way that water, coffee and milk still are unruly liquids.
These phenomena are actually your only invariable limitations when you try
to develop eating utensils for the daily meal.

It is banal, but the awareness of such primary rules is a precondition for an
in depth investigation and experience of how things function. It is the right
and the duty of the designer as far as possible to rethink things.

A designer is naturally faced with a plethora of further limitations – economical,
technical et cetera, rational rules of the game that are part of a production
process. From my close connection with the porcelain factory Royal
Copenhagen I have learned a lot about techniques and production methods,
and of course this sets up a number of rational rules which in themselves
represent a challenges. It is, however, my opinion that just like potatoes and
oranges have their own invariable nature, the materials (in this situation the
ceramic) also have their own nature which is far from being optimally utilized
in industrial methods. In all my arrangements I attempt to include natural
phenomena as fellow players and not as something that has to be counteracted.
In this way the designer becomes part of a greater totality.

Working with the functioning of things is a way of experiencing the phenomena
of nature.