“I think we are entering a whole new era where the personal and the man-made become far more valuable than something that a styled, concept-driven design company can deliver.”
– Pil Bredahl, curator of the Danish collection, “Litten Up”
“Litten Up” is part of the Virtual Design Destination presented by Adorno at London Design Festival, 12 – 20 September 2020. Join us for a tour of the virtual environment and collection with curator Pil Bredahl in conversation with Kristen de la Vallière of @sayhito_ on Sunday, 13 September at 15:00 PM BST. “Litten Up” is kindly supported by Statens Kunstfond, Nordic Culture Point, & the Embassy of Denmark in the United Kingdom.
Taking inspiration from Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” and the need to self-isolate this past spring, the Danish collection, “Litten Up”, investigates light and darkness, shadow and object through the work of four talented makers. Plato’s allegory speaks of perception, reality, and understanding through enclosed space and shadowy visions. In a similar manner to the philosopher in Plato’s work, this current moment in time has provided an opportunity for society to pause and reflect on the happenings of the world, both light and dark, and to reassess what the future can be. In relation to the larger Danish design scene, curator Pil Bredahl has used these notions to bring together a collection which reflects the designers’ desires to communicate their own lived experiences and bring light to new views of the contemporary design world.
Presented in a minimal, yet high-contrast space, the pieces of the collection speak for themselves and play directly with the notions of light and shadow. Light flickers along the walls and shadowy forms appear to grow and change as you move from one corner to the next. In this space, we encounter the “Reflecting Flame” wall sculptures and “Gathering Heat” fireplace, whose surfaces project warm, flickering light; “The Kentaur” and “The Mermaid”, whose street art-inspired forms mimic allegorical, shadowy figures; the “LO and BEHOLD” porcelain series, which appears to bubble and grow new, uncontrollable forms; and “Luminous Shapes no 04”, a piece whose function follows its unique, textural form. In this setting, the collection encourages viewers to consider the shadows in our society, using the current moment to reflect on the issues of our time and the ways that we can escape the cave and let more light in.
What are the main themes presented across the works in this collection?
For too long we have been sensually paralyzed by a non sensual consumer culture. It’s time for a change and this collection would like to ask questions about whether we sense what we see and whether we dare to look at an object as if it were the first time we opened our eyes.
Stine Mikkelsen, “Luminous Shapes no 04”
Which three words would you use to describe the contemporary design scene in Denmark? Please describe why.
Three words that describe the contemporary design scene in Denmark are COURAGE, because there are no other ways. ANXIETY, if you are in the conventional consumer part of the design industry and HOPE, because the human aspect becomes more valuable and there are no other way – to create is to be hopeful.
Signe Fensholt, “LO and BEHOLD” Series
Can you describe why you have chosen this simple, yet visually impactful scenography for this collection?
I wanted the scenography to reflect our surroundings when we have to shut out the outside world and focus on what is inside, inside our homes and minds.
“Wanting to convey a mood, a feeling, or a sense of perceiving the world is, in my eyes, one of the finest goals in life if you are a creator or artist.”
Light and shadow literally play a role in both Stine Mikkelsen and Christian & Jade’s pieces for this collection. As a whole, can you describe how the collection has come together to portray this theme?
During the covid-19 shutdown, several exhibitions were canceled or postponed. I worked then with a couple of the participating designers on an exhibition focusing on work processes. It was as if many things became clear in the very isolated period, and, at the same time, I also got the feeling of not always being able to see the big perspective from my small isolated world. Also, I remembered Plato’s cave tale.
Therefore, my focus shifted to what designers wanted to tell me with their work and why they struggled so hard in their workshops to achieve a very specific refined expression. Wanting to convey a mood, a feeling, or a sense of perceiving the world is, in my eyes, one of the finest goals in life if you are a creator or artist. These designers tell me about sensibility and strength also when you are in the darkness of a cave. They use black, grey, and white, they work with silhouettes. bubbling ceramics, fire, and light as tales of man’s relationship to the world.
Christian and Jade, “Gathering Heat”
“Litten Up” includes a variety of approaches to design and media, creating a unique, yet recognisable collection. What do these new forms, materials, and techniques say about the future of the contemporary Danish design scene?
I think we are getting rid of old notions of what Danish design looks like now, I think we are entering a whole new era where the personal and the man-made become far more valuable than something that a styled, concept-driven design company can deliver. The designers in this collection are busy telling us a story without the use of words. As a spectator, you must be open and ready for dialogue to participate.
Signe Fensholt, “LO and BEHOLD #2 (2/7)”
With reference to the Virtual Design Destination’s theme, how does this collection respond to the so-called “New Reality”?
[As mentioned above,] for too long we have been sensually paralyzed by a non sensual consumer culture. It’s time for a change and this collection would like to ask questions about whether we sense what we see and whether we dare to look at an object as if it were the first time we opened our eyes.
Meet Pil Bredahl, Curator of “Litten Up”
Pil Bredahl graduated in Product and Furniture Design from The Danish Design School (now the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design), and earned a Master’s Degree in Design Theory in 2013, writing her dissertation on design and sustainability. Since then, she has worked in the experimental sector of the design industry, occasionally making forays into more political domains.
She was part of the Scandinavian, female-only design group “Kropsholder,” which was founded in the late 1990s, and has recently been working with design as a tool for integration among women immigrants. She is also a co-founder of the design group FairTradeDesigners.com, created in 2007, which uses the design profession as a social lever to explore and promote sustainable development processes.
Which aspects of curating a collection for a virtual exhibition have intrigued and/or surprised you?
I am surprised and happy that there has been a sense of presence in the work itself despite the physical distance.
What are you most excited to share (ex. thematically, a piece, a designer, etc.) with the Virtual Design Destination audience?
I’m so excited to see if we can connect with each other, the designers, the curators, the customers, and the guests through online exhibitions like this. The physical meeting can not be replaced, but it may turn out that this form of exhibition can do something completely different. Reading a book and hearing the story in your head and watching a text performed on a stage in a public space, both experiences can be overwhelming in their own way and I do not feel like choosing one over the other. So I’m so excited about how an exhibition like this lives on after the London Design Festival 2020.
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