Director of the Danish Foundation in Paris
Portrait of Marius Hansteen
In parallel of The Design at Play exhibition at the House of Denmark, Made in Town has taken the opportunity to interview Marius Hansteen, director of the Danish Foundation, cultural advisor at the Denmark Embassy and curator of this exhibition which present the playful world of Kay Bojesen (1886-1958), a major Danish designer of the 20th century.
“Kay Bojesen considered himself as an artisan, and he often emphasized on the importance of mastering your own craft.”
– Marius Hansteen
Pascal Gautrand: The exhibition you are curating at the House of Denmark shows the creative work revolving around two techniques : metalwork and woodwork. Do you think that craftsmanship and production process are important factors?
Marius Hansteen: In Denmark it is quite common that teenagers are working after school to earn some pocket money. And for five years, from 13 to 18 years old, I have then worked every afternoon in an old blacksmith and locksmith workshop in the historic heart of Copenhagen, in my childhood's neighborhood. My friends were selling newspapers, picking up recyclable bottles in supermarkets, selling ice cream. So it was a bit exotic, but I enjoyed it a lot. I guarded the blacksmith space and I learned how to weld, to master thewheel, the use of highly specialized tools including various hammers. My boss was an old school craftsman, so I learned the work the old way. The workshop unfortunately no longer exists.
PG: Do you think your child's experience with handcraft has influenced you to be sensitive today to material work and design?
MH: I come from a family of architects, and material and design have always played a great role since my childhood. My father belongs to a generation of architects where it was usual to first learn a handcraft and he has worked as a carpenter before entering Fine Arts school. My experiences at the blacksmith have obviously influenced me, but the respect for craftsmanship and know-how come first from my parents.
PG: In which measure do you think technique and craftsmanship were important to Kay Bojesen?
MH: These were two very important matters! He considered himself as an artisan, and he often emphasized on the importance of mastering your own craft. His objects and prototypes were mostly produced in his small workshop in Copenhagen, therefore they all are of modest size.
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