The Beauty of Ceramics by Malene Knudsen

”I love working with clay by creating textures and shaping my own organic form language. The clay is my way of telling stories of our beautiful surroundings” - Malene Knudsen
Reading time 6 minutes

Malene Knudsen is a Danish artist based in Copenhagen. She has a formal background in architecture from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Denmark and has previously worked in the fields of design and graphic design. She started working with ceramics in 2018 and established her studio in 2020. “I have always had an urge to create and explore new crafts and materials and I completely fell in love with the raw material. I love working with clay by creating textures and shaping my own organic form language. The clay is my way of telling stories of our beautiful surroundings,” says Malene.

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“When I get clay in my hands, the magic occurs”
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Photos: Courtesy of Malene Knudsen

Raw clay traditionally formed in soft organic shapes transformed into modern ceramic pieces combining art, design and personally and is unique one of a kind.

A line of 16 exclusive vases with refined details, each one different from each other, are designed as sculptural pieces of art or for minimal floral arranging. Each vase is formed by hand using a coiling technique and shaped into soft organic forms inspired by body and nature. The five types of stoneware used in the collection naturally fires to warm tones of cream, sand, light brown and black, only with addition of coarse-grained fire sand and crushed bricks for a raw and textured finished. The roughness varies in the different types of used stoneware for an individual expression. To maintain its beautiful properties and native characteristics of natural depth, the ceramics is burnt to obtain hard water - tight stoneware a matte and un-glazed surface.


Tanja Beljanski: Where do you look for beauty?

Malene Knudsen: Beauty is everywhere. All you have to do is look for it. However, I find beauty most interesting when it comes in the purest and natural form as in nature. Nature is an infinite source of beauty. It is beautiful and forever changeable, each part and everyone is unique. It is a large treasury and archive of materials, which appeal to my aesthetics sense. I am particularly interested in surfaces and textures and how light can change the expression of the perceived.


TB: What inspires you the most when designing ceramics?

MK: I find inspiration in unpredictable and organic forms where each item has its own identity mark. I create my works from scratch, which implies that they are in constant development, an essential part of my design. My inspiration is architecture, art and fashion. I am inspired by French elegance, classic Italian artworks, and the Scandinavian simple use of natural materials as well as quality craftsmanship. The perfect piece of art would be a combination of all, which is my ambition for my sculptural pieces. I focus on combining art, design and functionality.

"I am inspired by French elegance, classic Italian artworks, and the Scandinavian simple use of natural materials as well as quality craftsmanship"

TB: What is it about ceramics that makes you love it so much?

MK: Clay is an honest and natural material. It comes from the ground. I find the pure and direct reproduction of the material beautiful as it at a high temperature changes from a soft mass to hard ceramics and during the entire process maintains its characteristics of both robustness and fragility. I love to create and telling stories by visualizing my ideas. It gives me endless possibilities to be able to make three-dimensional pieces with relatively few instruments and work with surfaces, structures and shadows.


TB: What is your favorite part of the process when making your designs?

MK: I find it great to create something new and move from sketch to clay, which just lies there waiting to be shaped. I often work from a raw sketch. It is a natural part of my process to visualize my thoughts and ideas on paper, which quickly gives me an understanding of proportions and helps me to scale my works. However, when I get clay in my hands, the magic occurs. The first prototypes are fantastic to create. This is not to say that the first are the best but to create something new, to refine an expression, is an extremely exciting and fascinating part of the process.


TB: Where are you most at peace?

MK: I grew up in the countryside close to the forest and sea and feel a strong connection to nature where I find peace and balance. I have always spent much time outside in nature and seek the city’s green spaces for immersion during weekdays. My parents still live in my childhood home where I love to come. That is the location where I am feeling the most at peace, with my family, surrounded by nature.


TB: What is the last book you read? What do you love most about it?

MK: I am very interested in art and I often prioritize to see and experience rather than to read about it. I love to visit museums and immerse in the curated areas to get an insight of a period of time, a human and a form of expression, which always inspire me and increase my own desire to create. Sonja Ferlov Mancoba is an artist I truly admire, and it was a fantastic experience to see her complete artworks at The National Gallery of Denmark. Subsequently, I bought her biography, which includes photos of her artworks, and I found out that her self-criticism was ruthless and without compromise as she discarded works if she was not satisfied. An early masterpiece ended in a lake because it would not behave properly in her own words. I find that it provides food for thought.



* This interview by Tanja Beljanski first appeared in the December 2020 issue of L'Officiel Arabia.

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