Christmas plates – in, out and in again …

Christmas plates. Just the word on its own can send a shiver down the spine of some Danes who’ve grown up with them! Memories of endless rows of blue and white plates with sugar sweet motifs on the walls at grandma and granddad’s can be all too fresh in the minds of some. For many years now Christmas plates have been out in the cold as far as trendsetters and other interior design aficionados are concerned.

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But in the last couple of years there have been signs of a thaw. A single Christmas plate or two have sneaked up on the wall alongside modern art in a personal asymmetrical ensemble or have found their way onto the dining table serving entrées to dinner guests, placed on top of the popular modern Royal Copenhagen blue and white fluted plates, Mega Mussel. Used in this way the passé suddenly becomes kitsch or even outright modern.

The Christmas plate, during its more than 100-year lifetime has enjoyed the heights of popularity only to become incredibly unfashionable and now begin to climb its way back into the warm.

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Back in the mid-19th century F.V. Grøndahl and the three Jewish Bing brothers started the porcelain factory Bing & Grøndahl in Copenhagen. Things went pretty well for them – the factory created the Seagull pattern dinnerware in 1892, dinnerware that has since been called Denmark’s national dinner service as it was to be found in around one in every ten Danish households. But B&G could much more than paint seagull wings on pale blue porcelain. In 1895 B&G designed the world’s first Christmas plate. Right away the plates proved to be incredibly popular and a new B&G Christmas plate has been added to the series ever since.

In 1908 the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Manufactory realized the golden opportunity the popular Christmas plate presented and so they too made it an annual tradition to launch a Christmas plate of their own. In 1987 B&G and Royal Copenhagen merged under the name Royal Copenhagen, but a Christmas plate bearing the B&G name continues to be made alongside a Royal Copenhagen one.

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The scenes on B&G’s Christmas plates revolve around a Danish Christmas. Not necessarily with a traditional Christian Christmas theme, more the things we associate with Christmas –  like snow-clad landscapes, deer and hares, birds feeding on ears of corn, a town silhouette at dusk, a Christmas tree, or a horse-drawn sleigh entering a farm courtyard. Romantic, but also looked down upon and dismissed by youth.

Up through the 20th century the walls in numerous Danish homes were plastered with these cobalt blue Christmas plates, arranged neatly in regimental rows. They were an enormous sales success – not least because shops were so good at telling the customers that in time the plates would come to be worth a lot of money one day. The opposite turned out to be true. Only the very early ones are worth any real money today.

The very first B&G Christmas plate is from 1895 – 400 were produced and then the mould was destroyed to prevent any more being made. They did this every year, but the number produced before the mould was destroyed naturally grew. So there are piles of the newer plates around and they’re still being sold at auction in large lots.

Is there a place at your dining table for a set of Danish Christmas plates? Or on your wall in your own unique “tableau”? Bid on Christmas plates at Lauritz.com here.

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Alvar Aalto – Renaissance man

There aren’t so many people today that can master everything. The world has become too complicated and specialization has become more of a necessity. But just go back to the mid-20th century – then you could be a top architect, furniture designer and industrial designer – all at the same time.

Aalto3A prime example is the Finn, Alvar Aalto (1898-1976). He designed amazing furniture that has become iconic the world over, beautiful buildings like MIT Baker House dormitory in the USA, Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg in Denmark as well as Essen Opera House in Germany, and probably the world’s most famous glass vase! And he was actually an original and interesting artist too.

Alvar Aalto trained as an architect at Helsinki University of Technology, interrupted for a time by the Finnish Civil War in 1918 in which Alvar Aalto, like so many other young Finnish men, fought. When he was finished with his studies in 1921 he travelled around Europe before returning home to Finland and opening his own design studio in 1923.

Aalto2In his early career Alto was inspired by Nordic Classicism, and it was first later on that he became the Functionalist and Modernist that we know and love today. He was a pioneer but neither the only one nor the first. He was one of a number of groundbreaking designers in Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Germany who all influenced and inspired each other across national borders.

And just like many others he jumped on the moulded wood band wagon. The husband and wife team, Charles and Ray Eames were the first to make furniture in moulded plywood, but Aalto’s style differed from theirs. His was unmistakably Nordic, soft, light and simple – among other reasons because Aalto’s favourite wood types were birch and maple.

Aalto1As well as his moulded and highly popular furniture, Alvar Aalto designed everything from buildings, textiles, art glass and lamps – and the list goes on…

Take a look here at numerous examples of what Alvar Aalto has also designed. At Lauritz.com there’s always great furniture if you like the light, Nordic style that Aalto is known for.

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ateljé Lyktan – spotlight on a Swedish lighting success

The lighting manufacturer ateljé Lyktan – Sweden’s answer to Denmark’s Louis Poulsen or maybe British-based Bestlite – is hot on the lips of retro fans in recent years. The company enjoyed the pinnacle of their success in the 1970s but is still going strong today.

Lyktan3ateljé Lyktan was established in Helsingborg back in 1934, so will be celebrating its 80th anniversary next year. Two years after it opened, the company moved to Åhus on the south-western coast of Sweden, where the factory still is today.

Unlike the famous Danish designer Poul Henningsen, who worked for many years bending light to make it soft and flattering, the founder of ateljé Lyktan, Hans Bergström, thought that light should be white and shine “freely”!

Lyktan1In 1964, Anders Pehrson took over from Bergström as director and designer – and it is his design that has become so popular today. Anders Pehrson was fiercely passionate about his four F’s, translating in English to: Form, Function, Colour and Family. Best known and most popular of all is the chubby Bumling lamp, which comes as a pendant, table and standard lamp, and in a variety of colours. In the fantastic Swedish magazine Hus & Hem Retro a several-page spread is dedicated to Anders Pehrson’s Bumling lamp alone. But then again it really is a great example of the best in 1970s design. And this decade is hotter than hot right now – for those who dare. Though maybe only if you weren’t young yourself in the 70s… :)

Anders Pehrson didn’t quite agree with his predecessor’s “let it shine” principle. He definitely didn’t think that good light always meant lots of light, more that to achieve good lighting, light should come from a variety of sources. And up through the landmark 1960s and 70s Pehrson put his personal stamp on the company’s profile.

Lyktan2In 1972 ateljé Lyktan supplied 16,000 lights for the Olympic village in Munich – marking a real international breakthrough.

Anders Pehrson died in 1982 and after this bestselling hits were hard to come by. A single outdoor lamp, though, called Stockholm by Olle Anderson met the mark and still sheds plenty of light around Sweden. And today, the factory, owned by Fagerhult since 1974, has re-launched many of the design classics from the 1960s and 70s.

We always have a large selection of lamps from ateljé Lyktan at auction at Lauritz.com. Bid here and invite a Swedish friend into your home…

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Keep on rolling … classic cars stay the mile

Long, lazy, late summer Sundays are perfect for airing a new trend that’s making strong headway at the moment – beautiful restored vintage and classic cars, especially from the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

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Retro and vintage have long been really popular in our homes and what we wear, with furniture, interiors, clothing, watches and jewellery. But now we’re finding them out on our driveways too. Old caravans from the 1960s and 70s with their round, chubby look are being restored. Their interiors are being stripped and they’re being given a complete makeover, turning them into a holiday paradise on wheels. And more and more often we’re seeing original old Italian Vespa scooters on our city streets – with a trendy hipster at the wheel too. Last, but definitely not least, the incredibly beautiful cars from the mid-20th century are really hot right now. Aston Martin, Porsche, Jaguar, Ford Mustang, Fiat, Corvette, MG and many, many more. A lot of men – also at the younger end of the spectrum – are buying a vintage car alongside the practical but maybe also ever so slightly boring estate car they use every day.

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Being the very happy owner of a classic car means time, and plenty of it. Time to restore, time to polish and preen, and not least to hit the road with your pride and joy. But maybe that’s precisely what lies at the root of its popularity? Classic cars signal a kind of effortless surplus – financial, mental and time-wise. And maybe restoration and maintenance can be kind of de-stressing too?

Do you also dream of cruising along fashionable boulevards or coastal highways in an open MG with an attractive companion or maybe even better – and more in sync with the 1960s and 70s – a blonde Afghan hound on the seat beside you? Or eating pizza in Rome, leaning casually up against your 1960s Fiat 1200 while you study Italian beauty? Then keep an eye out at our auctions. Now and then you can be lucky, really lucky.

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See whether we have a vintage car, scooter, caravan or other retro goodies for you at auction right now. Restored over the winter, then next summer is in the bag … weather permitting, of course!

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Catching Mad Men Design Fever

Mad Men grips viewers around the world with its characters and storylines. But for those with an eye for art and design, the show is just as much about its visual feast of impeccably curated mid-century style.

MadMen1So, instead of leaving Don Draper’s anything-goes universe behind each time the credits roll, why not incorporate the glamorous 1960s into your world? Once you know what ingredients to look for, it’s as easy as mixing a Tom Collins. Start with American mid-century and Danish modern, and you’re ready to stir things up.

The office is as good a place as any to begin – it is, after all, where Don Draper and his crew often seem most “at home.” And both the original Sterling Cooper agency and new Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce brim with design classics that are as relevant and visually powerful today as they were in the 60s.

MadMen2For a desk, look for a geometric, no-frills, solid design in Arne Jacobsen style – preferably with a blend of wood and metal. Then top it with eye-catching accessories. A statement desk lamp – like Don’s black-and-gold twin style or Roger Sterling’s Giancarlo Matiioli white Nesso lamp – adds both a sculptural and functional element. (Poul Henningsen’s portfolio is an excellent source of inspiration, too.) Bookends, globes, and statuettes add a personal touch while inspiring conversation and creativity. You might even consider the ultimate symbol of a bygone era: the typewriter. But if space is tight, a decorative and functional retro fan or boxy desk clock can be your reminder of analogue days.

If the dark wood aesthetic is too first-season for your taste, fast forward to Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce’s new white office. Roger Sterling’s new space – an ode to modern design – houses one-legged, white Eero Saarinen Tulip tables and chairs. Saarinen’s icons also do well in kitchens, as do Arne Jacobsen’s Ant and Series 7 chairs, with their minimalist lines and a quintessentially 60s pop-of-colour veneers. Charles and Ray Eames’s landmark moulded plastic chairs do the job, too.

MadMen3In loungey areas, a credenza like E.W. Bach’s does double-duty, hiding papers, magazines, mod china, and Holmegaard glassware – while providing an ideal surface for a bar, though you can also whip up your Mad Men cocktails on a mobile cart. For more heavy-duty storage, try a modular shelving system like Børge Mogensen’s or Poul Cadovius’.

And then there are Mad Men’s impossible-to-ignore chairs and sofas – minimal, linear, and arguably the design stars of the show. A Time-Life Executive Chair by Charles and Ray Eames and a pair of cane-backed armchairs by Peter Hvidt & Orla Mølgaard Nielsen or a wood-and-black-leather set by Erik Kirkegaard offer the ideal balance of form and function. The Charles Eames’ Lounge Chair and any pieces by Kai Kristiansen – from seats and tables to shelves and dressers, especially in teak – also recreate the polished, inviting agency aesthetic. Boxy 60s-style sofas and sectionals in bold colours like burnt orange, turquoise and avocado are also easy to work into contemporary décor. So is the irresistible Saarinen Womb Chair featured on set, though you can swap in another piece with organic lines and plush seating, like Arne Jacobsen’s Swan or a Hans J. Wegner lounge chair.

MadMen4And of course, no Mad Men scene is complete without striking, mood-setting artwork. In your quest, the key is to choose pieces that, as Kenneth Carlsgrove puts it when eyeing Bertram Cooper’s new Rothko, “make you feel something.” CoBrA movement paintings, like Mogens Balle’s, match the abstract expressionism aesthetic with their graphic, bold style. So do Jørn Ladegaard’s and Jørgen Bæk’s abstract compositions, modern statues like Daniel Grobet’s, surrealist, Dali-esque sculptures, and dramatic metal wall art. Purely graphic works, like the dizzying black-on-white dots in Sterling’s office, also set the right creative mood. How to make sure you don’t get lost in your new visual paradise? Be sure to hang George Nelson’s Spindle Clock or a classic Eames timepiece on the wall.

Lauritz.com is one of the best places to find original pieces from the era that started what we define as “modern.” Ready to let Mad Men inspire your interiors? Explore our mid-century collection of furniture, lighting, accessories, and art here.

Anastasya PartanAnastasya Partan, a Boston-based freelance writer, is a guest blogger for Lauritz.com. She was born in Moscow, raised in the US, and has lived in New York, Washington, DC, London, Paris, and Copenhagen. With both a corporate and creative background, she writes for international brands and explores topics related to lifestyle, culture and the arts.

 

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Jens-Flemming Sørensen – the art of suggestion

JFSThe art of suggestion is a concept that goes right back to Plato and is maybe one which we could do with a little more of? Lifting just a corner is always more interesting than having everything served up at once, leaving nothing to the imagination.

Jens-Flemming Sørensen is a master of the art of suggestion. A breast, a face in a randomly split-open ball, a leg … you never get the whole story. And isn’t that what’s best when contemplating art? Not being presented with all the answers in advance?

JFS1Jens-Flemming Sørensen (b. 1933) originally trained as a tailor – so his feel for body forms come as no surprise – but he swapped out scissors and needle for paint brush and tubes as a self-taught artist. He joined the experimental art school, Eks-skolen in Copenhagen, founded by the Danish artists Paul Gernes, Hans Jørgen Thorsen and Richard Winther as well as Troels Andersen, who wasn’t an artist but an art historian. Here, he was inspired to produce three-dimensional works of art in the public domain. This was back in the early-1960s. In 1966 he was a founding member of Passepartout, a group of Danish artists producing Fantastic Realist art.

JFS2Jens-Flemming Sørensen’s sculptures lend themselves perfectly to adorning public spaces and company headquarters. And this they do in style! He has been commissioned to do work in England, Germany, France, and in particular of course in his native Denmark. Off the top of our heads we can mention – Toftegård Square in Copenhagen, Carlsberg Breweries in Copenhagen, Tuborg Nord in Hellerup, Globen in Aalborg, The Flying Trunk  on Gråbrødre Torv in Odense inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, but there are many more. He is also represented at many of Denmark’s major museums – in Arhus, Vejle, Kolding, Aalborg and Randers.

Since the late-1980s he has been living in Italy. Just like several other of Denmark’s great contemporary artists, Jens-Flemming Sørensen has moved south, maybe in search of inspiration? Maybe just in search of warmer climes?

Bid on sculptures by Jens-Flemming Sørensen at Lauritz.com.

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Andy Warhol – sex, drugs and art

Andrew Warhola (1928-87) maybe doesn’t have the same international ’celebrity’ ring as the artist name Andy Warhol. The special name was down to that Warhol’s family were emigrants from Slovakia to USA.

AndyWarhol3Andy Warhol was part of the American jet set lifestyle in the 1960s and almost obsessed with (his own) fame. He was a declared homosexual too, which 50 years ago was both controversial and something that made him even more famous – and probably infamous. But the men in his life were important to him both personally and professionally, numbering among them people like photographer Edward Wallowith, poet John Giorno and top exec at Paramount Pictures, Jon Gould.

Andy Warhol actually trained as a commercial artist and moved after the Second World War to New York, where he habituated the city’s glamorous nightlife milieu.

Today we know him best for his motifs with Marilyn Monroe and other celebrities. He also painted dollar bills, (tinned) food, shoes and newspaper clippings – all things that characterize North American pop culture. And he had a penchant for repetition – the same motif repeated in different colours, or even mass-produced art which he had people produce at The Factory.

AndyWarhol2He experienced more than most in his relatively short life, including being shot – and almost killed – by a mentally unstable woman who thought that the male population were superfluous and should be wiped out. He was actually declared dead on arrival at the hospital, but a five-hour operation saved his life. He didn’t escape having to wear a surgical corset for the rest of his life, though, as a result of the shooting.

He was exceptionally vane and had among other things his nose operated in the 1950s, and he wore a wig from the middle of the same decade.

The 1960s and 1970s were characterized by both alcohol and drugs – and Warhol was in on the most part.

Andy Warhol is also the man behind the quote that is now more famous and relevant than ever: ‘In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes’. His own fame, though, lasted much longer than 15 minutes.

AndyWarhol1Today he has a whole museum dedicated to him in Pittsburgh in the USA, where you can study his entire oeuvre including his 60 films and his mother’s art!

There are many collectors of Warhol’s art and over the last many years his art has systematically been acquired when it turned up at the big auctions, with ensuing price rises year after year. It’ll be interesting to see how long this lasts.

Bid on Andy Warhol at Lauritz.com.

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