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Pioneer and idealist

CV/Biography

written by Kristian Vedel, 2001
(Translation from Danish: Karen Vedel)

Profession: Architect / Industrial Designer
Born: 2. March 1923

Son of Principal of Roskilde Folk High School and Krabbesholm Folk High School, Anders Aabye Vedel, Master of Theology, and Helene Vedel (born Solmer), folk high school mistress, custodian at Spøttrup Castle 1941-67 and storyteller.
Married to deceased Birgit Vedel (born Arnfred), M.A. in 1950, Designer Ane Vedel (born Pedersen) in 1961.

Education:

  • Krabbesholm Folk High School's free school until 1938.
  • Journeyman's certificate as cabinet maker 1942.
  • Visiting Student with professor Kaare Klint, Royal Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, 1944-45.
  • Graduation from the Furniture Department of the Arts and Crafts School (now Danmarks Designskole) 1946.

Design research activities:

  • The significance of school furniture in terms of free class room environments, group teaching and ergonomic relationships 1950-51.
  • Experiments with plastic: welding, coloring, surface textures, characteristics in terms of heat conductivity.
  • Stabilizing and functional improvements, in-depth treatment of wood 1951-54.
  • Lectures in architecture, design as well as professional organization in Finland and Sweden1954-57.
  • Ergonomic analysis of sitting positions, chairs, 1954-55.
  • Armed and unarmed polystre's usability in building and inventory components 1962-66.
  • Survey of the need for aid, design teaching and research in developing countries 1963.
  • Material cultures, socio-economical backgrounds, production and distribution, developmental conditions. Studies and research in product development and education in South, Central and North America, 1965.
  • Preparatory research for comprehensive project including sheep breeding, meat, wool/textiles, clothes and production from skins 1973-.

Exhibitions:

  • Copenhagen Cabinetmaker Guild's Furniture Exhibitions 1947, -48, and -49.
  • Danish Applied Arts and Industrial Design's (Dansk KunsthåndværkI annual exhibitions from 1955.
  • H-55 Helsingborg, 1955.
  • The Kitchen Exhibition in Forum, 1956
  • The Triennale in Milan, 1957-60.
  • Danish Form in Malmø, 1958.
  • Formes Scandinaves, Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Louvre, Paris, 1958.
  • Metropolitan Museum, New York, travelling exhibition in USA, 1960.
  • Interplas, London, 1961.
  • Neues Form aus Dänemark, travelling exhibitions, 1962.
  • Dänische Wohnenkultur, Vienna, 1962.
  • The Commercial Fair, 1962.
  • Young Nordic Designers, Rohska Museum, Göteborg 1962.
  • Danish Applied Arts and Design: the meal and the applied arts, 1962.
  • Separate exhibition, Design aus Dänemark, Bremen, 1963.
  • Formes Industrielle 63, Louvre, Paris, 1963.
  • 2 year Prizewinners in Applied Arts and Design, 1963.
  • Landskronafestival, 1963.
  • Travelling exhibition, New York, 1964.
  • Artists of Applied Arts and Design IX, Artindustry Museum, Copenhagen, 1966.
  • 10 years Lunningprize winners, Den Permanente, 1967.
  • Danish Arts & Crafts, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, touring exhibition in England, 1968.
  • Design in Scandinavia, traveling exhibtion in Australia, 1969.
  • Contemporary Danish Design, Moscow, 1970.
  • Traveling exhibition, Brazil and Mexico, South America, 1971-72.
  • Danish Design from A to ZÆØÅ, 1973.
  • Scandinavian Design, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1974.
  • Scandinavian Design, Poland, 1975.
  • Danish Milieu, travelling exhibition in East Europe, 1975-77.
  • Danish School for Applied Arts and Design, 100 year anniversary, 1976.
  • Pierre Cardin Centre, Paris, 1978.
  • Danish Cultural Ministry's travelling exhibition, Spain 1980
  • Danish Cultural Ministry's travelling exhibition, Portugal, 1981.
  • Lunning Prize Recipients, Danish Museum of Art and Design, traveling exhibition in the Nordic countries and Hongkong, 1986-87.
  • »Kid size - the material world of childhood«, Danish Museum of Art and Design, Copenhagen, and Vitra Design Museum, Rhein, traveling exhibition, 1997-2000.

Honorary Acknowledgments:

  • 1st and 4th prizes 4de Copenhagen Cabinetmaker Guilds Furniture Competitions 1947 and 1948.
  • Louisiana Prize, 1957.
  • Silver medal, Milan Triennale, children's furniture, 1957.
  • Gold medal, Milan Triennale, stacking items in melamine, 1960.
  • Design Award, Interplas, London, 1961.
  • Lunningprize, 1962.
  • Commercial Fair's Prize, 1962.
  • Danmarks Nationalbank's Anniversary Foundation grant for Ane and Kristian Vedel, 1977-78.
  • Danish Arts Council's lifelong grant awarded in 1987.

Purchased by museums and foundations (selection):

  • Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark, children's furniture and stacking items in melamin.
  • Rohska Museum, Göteborg, Sweden, stacking items in melamine and children's furniture.
  • Metropolitan Museum, New York, stacking items in melamine. »News for release 28th.12.1960: Kristian Vedel's melamine bowls are the first all-plastic objects ever to enter the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum. Design authority Edgar Kaufmann Jr., who was consulted by the Museum on the Danish purchase, predicts that the Vedel design will set a new trend in American designers' use of plastic.»
  • Applied Arts Museums in Oslo and Trondhjem, Norge, stacking items in melamine and children's furniture.
  • The Danish Museum of Applied Art in Copenhagen, stacking items in melamine.
  • Museum of Applied Art, Prague, Poland, stacking items in melamine.
  • Museum of Modern Art, New York, children's furniture »Terence Riley, Chief Curator: It is my great pleasure to inform you that on January 17th, 1995 the Architecture and Design Acquisitions Committee agreed to include your 1957 Child's Chair in our Design Collection. We are delighted to have the chair in the Design Collection.«

Principal assignments:

  • Establishment of the two first University departments for Industrial Design in independent black Africa, one a teaching department, the other a research and development institute at the East African University in Nairobi, Kenya. Through integrated development plans for and implementation of education, multidiscipli­nary research, mapping, projecting and counseling, the aim was to establish the design discipline on a socially relevant foundation. The founding activities and the education of the designers intended to meet the needs of the population at large. It was assumed that employments would mainly take place in the public sector. 1968-71.

Memberships:

  • »Cirklen«, association of furniture architects.
  • »SIF« (Selskabet for fremme af Industriel Design, Society for the promotion of Industral Design).
  • »Dansk Kunsthåndværk og Industriel Design« (Danish Applied Arts and Industrial Design).
  • »AID« (American Institute of Interior Designers), design associate.
  • »SVA« (Sociedad Venezolana de Arquitectos), Caracas, Venezuela. Honorary member, 1965.
  • »IDD« (Industrial Designers, Denmark), MDD.

Professional biography, positions of trust and other positions:

  • Design of marine inventory, employee of Ålborg Shipyard, 1944.
  • Design and architecture employee to the principal of the School for Applied Arts, Architect Edward Kindt Larsen (MAA) and Architect Tove Kindt Larsen (MAA), 1946-49.
  • Chairman of the Furniture Architects' Association »Cirklen«, 1947-49.
  • Industrial design employee with Professor, Architect Erik Herløw, MAA, 1949.
  • Projects presented at the Copenhagen Cabinetmaker Guild's furniture competitions, 1947, 1948, 1949.
  • Design- and architecture employee with professor, Architect Palle Suenson, MAA, 1949-52
  • Teacher of drawing, painting and modeling at Askov Folk High School, 1952-53
  • Teacher of measurements, functional, technological and market analysis at the furniture division of the School for Applied Arts and Design, Copenhagen, 1953-56.
  • Own design practice established in Humlebæk, 1954.
  • Projecting of children's furniture, melamine products, egg cups, peppermills and stacking items, wooden birds, a.o. Produced by Torben Ørskov & Co, 1955-60.
  • System fixtures and furniture for Askov, Magleås and Herning Folk High Schools for Architect Tyge Arnfred, MAA and professor Viggo Møller Jensen, MAA 1956-61.
  • Consultant for Louisiana Applied Arts Industry A/S, 1957-58.
  • Consultant, architect and designer for Torben Ørskov & Co in connection with the establishment of the shop Form & Farve, Nicolaj Plads, Copenhagen, renovation, interior design, graphic planning of stationary etc. 1960-61.
  • Building modular related system fixtures and furniture for Architect Jean Fehmerling's home in Vedbæk 1960-61
  • Systems exhibitions for France & Son. Spring furniture system, produced and exhibited by France & Son, 1961-62.
  • Design of the furniture series MODUS, graphic works and exhibitions for Søren Willadsen's Successor 1961-68.
  • Projecting of a series of modular designs, furniture and other consumer goods, which are not in production, 1960-68.
  • Initiator of round table negotiations between acknowledged Danish designers concerning their weak influence on business and legal matters, educational and research related conditions in this country (Denmark) 1965-67.
  • Co-founder, planning and first chairman of IDD Industrial Designers
  • Denmark. Especially engaged in work on educational issues, legal concerns, contractual agreements and the international relations of designers, 1966-68.
  • Member of Danish Design Center's Jury, 1967.
  • Member of the board of Den Permanente, 1967-68.
  • Commissioned by the Danish Foreign Ministry, DANIDA to University of Nairobi in order to survey and report on the suitability of and need for support in the establishment of a professor's chair in Space Art, 1968.
  • Reviewer at Department for Arts and Crafts, University of Nairobi, 1968.
  • Employed as guest professor of Industrial Design at the above department.
  • Planning for the establishment of two independent departments, one for teaching and one for research and development. 1968.
  • The departments were established in 1969 and I was employed by the university as professor of Industrial Design and director of the teaching and research departments
  • Development of strategies for future development, including africanization of the leadership of the two departments, 1969-71.
  • Member of the board for Housing Research & Development Unit, University of Nairobi, 1969-71.
  • Lectures, teaching and research management at Department for Industrial Design and Department for Design, University of Nairobi, 1969-71.
  • Representative at ICSID's congress in Spain, Ibiza, 1971.
  • Establishment of design practice in Thyholm, 1972.
  • Study plans for and tutoring of East African design students' further education in Denmark 1972-73.
  • Establishment of Shropshire-sheep farm, 1973.
  • Membership of Danish Applied Arts & Industrial Design's representative board and chair of the association's design group 1973-74.
  • Board member and vice chair of the Danish Association for Applied Arts & Industrial Design 1974.
  • IDD's delegate to ICSID, 1973-74.
  • Danish Association for Applied Arts & Industrial Design's and IDD's representative at IC
  • SID's congress in Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan, 1973.
  • Member of Danish Design Prize Jury, 1974.
  • Observer for IDD in SEDA, Bureau of European Designers Association, 1974.
  • Member of ICSID's Core Committee, working group IV Design for developing countries, 1974-76.
  • Reviewer and guest lecturer at Department of Industrial Design, University of Nairobi, 1975.
  • Development of modular clothing in Shropshire wool, from 1975-
  • Planning of graphic design for the furniture factories Carl Hansen A/S, Ry Møbler A/S and Søren Willadsens Eftf. A/S, 1978-.
  • Design practice in collaboration with Ane Vedel siden 1961.