Handmade Scandi design
SkandiHus’ handmade ceramic plates, cups, bowls and pots reflect everything we love about Danish design so we visited Stine Dulong, ceramicist and founder of SkandiHus at the Turning Earth workshop in Shoreditch to see her at work.
Tell us about SkandiHus?
I set up the company to reflect the principles of Scandinavian design in which beauty is radiated through light colours, the ample use of natural materials, minimalism and functionality.
The name originates from ‘Skandi’ plus ‘hus’, the Danish word for house, and the whole ethos of my work is based on my belief that the home is our haven. It represents the most important things in our lives – our family, where we welcome friends and where we relax. Home should be a place of calm and contentment and my work aims to complement that.
Who has been your biggest influence?
I’ve been very influenced by the world of architecture. Back in the late 1800’s, there was an Austrian architect, Adolf Loos, who believed that there was too much ‘disturbance’ around him and so he designed stripped-down buildings and guided people towards a more minimalistic lifestyle. He believed that superfluous ornaments were unnecessary because of wasted labour and materials and advocated clearing the world of them.
How did you start SkandiHus?
I set up SkandiHus almost two years ago and the ethos of the brand reflects the process that I’ve gone through in my own life to rid myself of ‘disturbance’. I’ve slowed down and am much more mindful of everything that I do.
I used to work in the City as a business crime lawyer and my life was quite detached. I was forced to take time out because I had a skiing accident and around the same time, I had been attending a ceramics course in Hampstead and realised that this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
My first designs were the diamond pots, inspired by a beautiful Korean pot with facets that I saw at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Each pot is produced from one ball of clay and I spend about 45 minutes hand moulding it using a technique called ‘pinching’. You can feel my finger prints on the glazed inside. I leave the clay to dry out until it is the consistency of Cheddar cheese and then cut out the diamond shapes with a knife. When I designed them, I had in mind that they could be used for tea lights, plants and spices. But some of my customers have started posting pictures of them being used as espresso/short coffee cups and this makes me happy because it highlights their true functionality.
Tell us about your approach
My designs are a reflection of the journey my life has taken and who I am.
The colours that I use are reminiscent of the coastal region of Hellerup, near Copenhagen, where I grew up. I love the sea, it was my life and I spent a lot of my teenage years sailing. The sea influence is reflected in many of the colours that I use – natural whites, sea blues, lagoon, turquoise and deep blue.
You can clearly see this in the Wild Wave Platter because I use a mix of two different glazes to reflect the complex and changing colour of the sea from the white crest of the waves to the deep and dark blue seas underneath. The sea off Denmark is a very dark blue, particularly in the autumn and spring.
Today, I spend some of my free time rock climbing. The British coast has some wonderful cliffs – I’ve been to the South Coast and Cornwall but think my favourite place for climbing is in the Peak District.
My love of being outdoors and connecting with the earth is reflected in all my plate designs and I deliberately have left the rims and the underside unglazed so you can feel the natural graininess of the stoneware clay.
How do you balance beauty with functionality in design?
I care what I make and each piece has to be practical as well as functional. For example the outside of every plate has an unglazed clay rim so that it is easy to grip if it is wet. And there is a gentle lip so that a sauce does not run over the edge of the plate. I’ve thought carefully about the diameter of each plate too – so that they stack easily in a dishwasher. And I take extra care so that the plates do not wobble.
I’ve experimented with different glazes because it’s important that the sound of cutlery isn’t heavy or screechy and I only use glazes that enable the cutlery to gently sing so that it does not disturb.
How has living in London influenced you?
There’s a certain movement happening in London that’s to do with going back to the old ways of doing things. Quality is valued over quantity and there’s a return to times when objects were handmade.
I believe that the minimalistic Scandinavian trend is here to stay because people want to rid their lives of clutter and disturbance.
I’ve been coming to the Nordic Bakery café at Dorset Street for years because it’s a haven away from clutter and visual disturbance. I always leave feeling full of energy and inspiration and I think that it’s really important to have these places of calm when you live in a busy city like London.
What are your favourite objects in your home?
A Poul Henningsen PH table lamp that my father gave to me when I was 18 years old
Some beautiful hand-made wooden spoons by Grain & Knot which I feel complement my work so well.
I’ve just bought a beautiful print of black and white stripes on beautiful handmade paper from Christina Forsberg, the brains behind Scandinavialist.
Where can we see your work?
My work is sold by 16 retailers (as well as from my own website) and I also design for restaurants. My plates are used by Carousel, a new restaurant not far from Nordic Bakery in Dorset Street and I’m currently in the middle of making a 160-piece set for a private members club in Mayfair and am just about to launch at Unika:-K.
I make one off pieces for the Scandinavian shop, Wild Swans, and you can buy my designs in Family Tree in Exmouth Market and at T & Shop in Newington Green, amongst others.
I’ve never been busier and am in the process of scaling up with a move to new premises.
You can also see my work at Nordic Bakery from next week through to the end of July when my plates will be used to serve some tempting summer bakes – a new caramel cake with berries and a soft cheese and pineapple bun.
Ceramicist and founder of SkandiHus
Photograph by Mariell Ameliè