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Pioneer and idealist

[Dustpan, detail]

Industrial designer, pioneer and idealist

by Mette Strømgaard Dalby, 2006,
Museum Inspector, Trapholt (Translation from Danish: Whitney Byrn)

Kristian Vedel was, like many of his generation including Hans J. Wegner and Børge Mogensen, educated as both a cabinetmaker and a furniture designer, but in contrast to Wegner and Mogensen, who continued working with wood as their primary material, Vedel likewise threw himself into the new industrial possibilities. His most famous design, then and now, is a series of stackable utensils in the plastic material melamine.

In the 1950s plastic had a reputation as an shoddy material and was perceived as second rate alternatives to natural materials like wood and steel. Vedel assumed the challenge and with the melamine series, he succeeded in creating a tactility in the new material, on its own terms, which had not been seen before. The stackable multifunctional tableware has strong sides at the base, which become smaller as it goes up until it opens into a sharp, defined edge. The material is worked up so that it appears to have a soft outer side and a lacquered inner side, which gives associations to Asian lacquer work and a Japanese aesthetic. The tableware was made in several sizes and depths and in the colors red, purple, and light and dark grey. Vedel designed the series in 1953 and in 1960, it went into production at Torben Ørskov & Co.

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