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The Intersection Between Art and Design – Normann x Brask Art Collection

By Shira Wolfe

Ryan Schneider Bedcover. Photo courtesy of Normann Copenhagen

On the 24th of January, Danish design company Normann Copenhagen and curator Jens-Peter Brask presented Normann x Brask Art Collection, a new collaboration bringing together a special collection at the intersection of art and design. The collection is created by 10 Danish and international artists, and curated by Jens-Peter Brask, creating a playful meeting between the worlds of art and design. Normann x Brask Art Collection is on view at Normann Copenhagen until it goes on sale in spring 2019. The products will be sold in selected stores worldwide.

“The emotive and reflexive aspects that art addresses appear to be becoming more and more important in the field of design, and we are interested in seeking out new creative perspectives by working in the field that stretches between both disciplines,” says Poul Madsen, director of Normann Copenhagen, of the collaboration.

The collection features contributions by the following 10 artists:  Ryan Schneider, Jørgen Haugen Sørensen, Mira Dancy, Greg Bogin, Vincent Dermody, Roma Manikhin, Tony Matelli, Gudrun Hasle, Graham Collins, and Anton Munar. Each of the artists worked closely with Normann Copenhagen to convey their artistic practice in an object traversing the border between art and design. Items in the collection are as varied as they are enticing: a bedspread and pillows designed by Ryan Schneider, inspired by serene California nights; a set of seductive playing cards by Roma Manikhin inspired by burlesque shows, sailor tattoos, erotic postcards and a late 18th century mood; and a shower curtain by Mira Dancy based on her ink drawing of a woman entitled “Sun Tattoo”, to name but a few. This first collaboration lays the foundation for a long-lasting product line, where more artists will contribute to the collection, guided by the curatorial eye of Jens-Peter Brask who is also the one mediating contact between the artists and Normann Copenhagen.

“The collection will approach art with the greatest respect and actuate it in an interesting and positive way,” says Brask.

Tony Matelli Throw Blanket. Photo courtesy of Normann Copenhagen
Roma Manikhin Playing Cards. Photo courtesy of Normann Copenhagen
Graham Collins Table. Photo courtesy of Normann Copenhagen

This collaboration recognises an important tendency of our time, which is about working at the borders and intersections of art and design, as well as other disciplines. Take, for example, Olafur Eliasson and his recent art-design collaboration Little Sun. Eliasson teamed up with engineer Frederik Ottesen to create beautiful solar products with the aim to bring solar power to communities without electricity, as well as to art and design lovers everywhere.

Yet the tradition of blending art and design goes way back to the beginning of the 20th century. Art movements like Bauhaus in Germany (1919-1933) and De Stijl in the Netherlands (1917-1931) were actively bringing together art, design and architecture. For the members of De Stijl, this was perhaps of less concern than for those of Bauhaus, who really worked around the notion of wanting to create a Gesamtkunstwerk in which all arts, including design and architecture, would be brought together. Proponents of De Stijl saw their work as a joint project between like-minded people, be they artists, architects, or designers. Nevertheless, adherence to the same creative vision resulted in a natural blending of art, architecture and design, as is clear in works like Gerrit Rietveld’s famous Red and Blue Chair.

Rietveld Schröder House by Gerrit Rietveld (De Stijl), 1924. Photo courtesy of Rietveld Schröder House

There is something exciting about the prospect of art being presented differently than usual. Rietveld made bold strides in this regard with his chairs, or at the greatest extreme with the Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht, which he designed for a widow and her children in mourning following their desire for openness in their family and truth in their emotional lives (the house has no doors, just sliding walls creating large open spaces, and the only colours used are primary colours and black, white and grey).

In this tradition, the Normann x Brask Art Collection also presents art that is meant to be used: “The art will be displayed in a new way; no longer simply hanging on a wall but becoming useful and more straight-forward,” explains Brask.

Keep an eye on the Normann Copenhagen website for upcoming news about the Normann x Brask Art Collection.