Kristian Vedel Pioneer and idealist (2 of 8) dansk


When I visited Ane Vedel in their home on Thyholm shortly after Kristian Vedels death in 2003, it was interesting to find that the tableware was still in use and had been in the ensuing 50 years. Melamine, which was regarded as a second rate material, had as such been able to survive daily use. Normally, plastic material's Achilles heel is that it ages badly and without patina, but this was not the case here.

In 1960, the melamine series was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the same year Vedel received the gold medal at the prestigious Triennale in Milan for the melamine series. Two years later, in 1962, Vedel received the Lunning Prize, primarily for his innovative use of plastic in the melamine tableware. In conjunction with the Metropolitan's purchase of Vedel's melamine tableware in 1960, the great design patron Edgar Kaufmann Jr. declared, “… that Vedel's design will start a new trend for American designers' use of plastic.“ Kaufmann was an institution in the American design world through his close association with the Museum of Modern Art's (MoMA) Department of Industrial Design in New York. He was very interested in Danish Design one reason among others was his friendship with the Danish furniture designer Finn Juhl. Kaufmann also historically had his share in Danish Design's triumph in the USA in the '50s and '60s.

In the fall of 2005 Trapholt showed Kristian Vedel's melamine series at the large exhibition Plastic Fantas­tic – plastdesign fra 1950 til idag The public's reaction was that they found it difficult to believe the melamine series' old age. Vedel's plastic tableware did not create the plastic revolution Kaufmann had predicted, but the series' simplicity makes it as useable now as then.

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