Copenhagen offers ceramics that are as appealing as its cuisine

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Copenhagen offers ceramics that are as appealing as its cuisine
The ceramist Magdalena Kaluzna-Wlodarek at work. Shoppers will find pieces suited to every purpose and style, whether it’s a sculptural statement vase or an everyday coffee mug to brighten dark winter mornings. Tim Staugaard via The New York Times.

by Ingrid K. Williams

COPENHAGEN (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- Copenhagen, Denmark, remains one of the world’s most exciting food destinations, where innovative restaurants demand tableware as impressive as the cuisine. So, naturally, the Danish capital is now also one of the best places to shop for handmade ceramics.

In keeping with the guiding tenets of Danish design — functionalism and high-quality craftsmanship — today’s ceramists are producing pieces as useful as they are attractive, employing creative glazes, unusual shapes and playful color combinations. Shoppers today will find pieces suited to every purpose and style, whether it’s a sculptural statement vase or an everyday coffee mug to brighten dark winter mornings.

A great first stop for one-of-a-kind pieces is MK Studio, the airy workshop of ceramist Magdalena Kaluzna-Wlodarek, which doubles as a shop stocked with a dazzling array of cups and serving dishes. Depending on what Kaluzna-Wlodarek has recently made in the adjoining studio, you might find small pitchers splashed in emerald green hues (350 Danish kroner, about $57), dinner plates with bubbly blue patterns (from 400 kroner), or cheerful cups with wavy swirls of turquoise and orange (260 kroner).

Kaluzna-Wlodarek got her start making coffee cups for a barista friend who was competing in the 2016 World Brewers Cup.

The simple cup design from that experience remains a bestseller, to which she now applies various creative treatments (180-270 kroner). One small mug, with a swirling blend of honeydew and robin’s-egg-blue porcelain, glossy on the inside and matte on the outside, is as pleasing to look at as it is to hold. Kaluzna-Wlodarek considers it all functional art.

“Texture on the outside is very important for me,” she said. “It’s the whole feeling of drinking coffee in the morning and enjoying the cup you’re drinking from.”

MK Studio also supplies some of the city’s top restaurants. A few years ago, chef Kristian Baumann asked Kaluzna-Wlodarek to make plates for 108, the first sister restaurant of Noma, René Redzepi’s influential fine-dining establishment. (108 has since closed permanently because of the pandemic.)

“After that, a lot of other places asked me about ceramics,” Kaluzna-Wlodarek said, rattling off a client list that included Michelin-starred Relae, Manfreds and the Coffee Collective. (Relae will also close for good next month.) When Lisa Lov, a former sous-chef at Relae, opened her own restaurant, Tigermom, in 2018, she, too, went directly to MK Studio.

“The type of food that we do here is quite rustic in form,” Lov said of her lively, Asian-inspired restaurant. “So I knew that the plates had to look amazing.”

One of the many dishes Kaluzna-Wlodarek custom-designed for Tigermom was a special family-style rice bowl. Like everything on the table, “it needed to be bright and bold and colorful,” Lov said. Now that striking black-and-orange lidded bowl is a Tigermom signature.

Shopping for more elegant pieces? Head to the studio Keramiker Inge Vincents in the Norrebro district. In this small shop, the delicate white vases and bowls are made of porcelain so thin that they’re nearly transparent. Often twisted or crinkled, many of ceramist Inge Vincents’ pieces resemble rumpled paper bags (350 to 4,200 kroner).

Shoppers looking for more colorful design pieces may find their ideal souvenir at Wauw Design, ceramist Sussi Krull’s Osterbro studio and workshop, which is full of brightly hued oblong vases (from 400 kroner), flower pots (from 250 kroner) and serving bowls (from 230 kroner).

Those who prefer a more subdued aesthetic might want to try Tina Marie, a studio and shop in central Copenhagen, where you’ll find a variety of hand-thrown stoneware in neutral, earthy tones, from teapots and vases to lidded boxes and large bowls (most around 900 kroner).

If you’re looking for a breadth of styles in one place, add Yonobi to your list. The store specializes in handmade ceramics from independent artists around the world, but local ceramists are also well represented. Among the varied offerings, which range from 90 kroner to around 3,000 kroner, seek out quirky sculptures from Anne Lind Sorth and Katrine Bidstrup, hefty serving platters from Karin Blach Nielsen, unique vases from Annika Semler and Robynn Storgaard and adorable candy-colored ceramic straws from Frida Ceramics.

Given the current travel restrictions in place around the world, it’s worth noting that many of Copenhagen’s ceramists are selling on the internet as well. Certainly, the online experience can’t compare with shopping in a studio, where you can feel the texture of a bowl and chat with the artist who made it. But you can still look forward to the pleasure of placing fresh flowers in a new vase, pouring tea from a hand-thrown pot, or sipping coffee from a perfectly shaped cup.

© 2020 The New York Times Company

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