From the launch of HÅNDVÆRK bookazine on 30 September 2022.

Now, I can count to seven:

At the table with HÅNDVÆRK
and now, Construction

Producing, publishing and selling bookazines is like being a juggler, a hair stylist, a tightrope walker and a circus director, all at once.
That’s the way it is because I have a small firm, where I do the interviews, write the texts, take the photos, do the editing, talk to agents, distributors and clients and do other odd jobs.
And that’s the way it is because the content of a bookazine strikes a balance between the magazine’s fairly light and entertaining fare and the book’s aspiration to inform and enlighten and maybe even to inspire change.

My chosen field is rooted in the design business. Based on the people I portray, my goal is to convey insights into why and how the things we live with are created, at least if a craftsperson was involved.

Even if we are quite privileged, certainly in this corner of the world, it is no secret that there are many people who are not thriving and who are vulnerable, and much of what we surround ourselves with, live in and eat has seen a steady decline in quality in my lifetime.
What’s more, we are senselessly depleting the planet’s resources.

We have become far removed from what was immediately comprehensible and practice-based and moved towards something we have mutually convinced each other is richer and better.
I would love to help turn that trend around, and fortunately, I am not alone.

My mission with the HÅNDVÆRK bookazine is both to sow a seed and to nurture the seeds that have already begun to take root.
Maybe I’m really more of a gardener than a hair stylist!

I want to tell stories that point to a path forward.
I want to present modern, living craft practices.
Sometimes, the fastest way forward is to look behind you. And sometimes, you need to leave the past behind in order to move forward.
I want to tell stories of bold life choices.
I want to hold up a different mirror than the ones held up by the traditional lifestyle press.
And I want to tell stories about people with skills, knowledge and dedication.
People with practice-based professions who speak from experience.

Not as a way of pitting the makers and the craftspeople against the intellectuals – far from it.
However, I am convinced that much of our vulnerability and lack of resilience is due to the alienation that has occurred because it somehow, gradually, came to be seen as more prestigious to be a fashion researcher than a tailor, more prestigious to design a house than to build one.

In recent years, we have begun to see a countertrend. First, the chefs became the new rockstars, then the ceramicists and cabinetmakers followed suit.
Even if HÅNDVÆRK and the work of the hand have not seen quite the same momentum, both have made it onto the agenda.
I really hope that the current crisis is not going to buck this trend. I hope it will enhance it.

Not because I think that crafts and manual processes in themselves are the answer to anything, but I do know that crafts and knowledge of materials, in one sense or another, are prerequisites of all good solutions.

Throughout my career, I have been interested in aesthetics – and I still am.
The bookazines are based on aesthetics.

As many of you know, I used to be a practising fashion designer.
My experience with materials, production processes and running a business are my ballast when I do interviews.
My ambition as a designer is to create an expression that is visually and mentally calm and clear.
When I was a fashion designer, my goal was to make the clothes and the wearer come together in a coherent expression that was in step with the times – in short, fashion.
I was focused on form and fit, and whenever I sat behind someone at the theatre or cinema, I couldn’t help thinking about how to make the shoulder seam and collar fall into place with a little snip here and a tuck there.

Today, in any given situation, I imagine how the reality I face can be framed to make a calm and descriptive image, and I’m always looking for the point or the story.
I do this by staying curious and exploring what drives the process. What provides the motivation.

Personally, I am motivated by challenges. I want to do something that is hard and which will help me grow.
In itself, making a bookazine is not hard. Making a bookazine is like making a fashion collection.
The hard part – the part that helps me grow – is to define a frame for the collection or, in this case, a theme for the publication without knowing ahead of time how I am going to land it safely in terms of content and aesthetic expression.

‘Decoration’ was a challenging theme, because the word ‘decoration’ has long had a bad name in Scandinavian design, a cousin of ‘ostentation’, something we all know is not a thing to strive for.

‘Resources’ was hard, perhaps because it is hard to get used to thinking of materials as resources, although there is no other way.
On the other hand, the theme did offer an excellent opportunity to get on my hobbyhorse, which whinnies and proclaims, ‘The nearest shortcut to durable and sustainable practice is through in-depth knowledge of materials and production processes.’

‘Construction’ was a challenging theme because I had to learn about a wide range of new professions and terms. It was also a really interesting issue to make. I am pretty pleased with the result, and I hope that you will learn as much from reading it as I did writing it.

As you know, in addition to thematic articles, the bookazines also always contain a photo series. This time, the pictures are in the form of a journal illustrating the six months that go into making a bookazine.
As you can see from the journal, by the time I launch a bookazine, the next one is already in the making.

The bookazines are released in March and September

Thus, the present bookazine was already underway in April, when I gave a talk to the Designmuseets Venner (Friends of Designmuseum Danmark).
‘Perhaps you might like to scale up in a future issue of HÅNDVÆRK?’ asked one of the attendants. She is an architect and also a former customers from my fashion days. She added, ‘As I’m sure you know, climate accounts are going to be mandatory in construction from 2023.
Initially, there will be a cap on CO2 emissions per square metre per year for new builds over 1,000 m2, and from 2025, the requirement is going to apply to all new construction.

Indeed, I had heard about it, and yes, I was interested in scaling up and taking a look at architecture and construction; in fact, I had already begun. At this point in the process, it was quite clear to me that there are many interests at play in construction, refurbishment and renovation and that switching to architecture and construction involves much more than just scaling up. Above all, construction is big business – and a huge factor in relation to the above-mentioned and increasingly ubiquitous climate accounts.

By then, I had already visited the contracting firm Egen Vinding & Datter (Personal Gain & Daughter), a company that sadly had to file for bankruptcy just before we went to press – and a company that truly deserves to be celebrated, both in text and speech.
Egen Vinding & Datter helped lay the foundation for more sustainable construction in Denmark. You can look forward to reading about their knowledge and skills.
I came across Egen Vinding & Datter because no matter where I went in my search for craft companies with a visionary approach to construction, their name came up.
The company introduced me to the basics, which helped prepare me for my talks with a bricklayer’s apprentice, a joiner, a blacksmith and a thatcher.

I went to see the latter, thatcher Ruud Conijn, at Djursland, where he was laying a thatch roof on a house.

Since the first time I saw architect Dorte Mandrup’s Wadden Sea Centre in Ribe, which has thatch on both its walls and roofs, I have been curious to learn more about the building, which she describes as being shaped by the ambition of pointing to the future while being firmly rooted in vernacular architecture and history.

Ruud is one of the thatchers who helped realize Dorte Mandrup’s vision.
He is skilful, knowledgeable and ambitious.
In addition to working as a thatcher, he also teaches and holds elected positions in the industry. You can look forward to meeting him in the bookazine.
His perfectionism is his best friend, but probably also a burden.
His outsider’s perspective as a Dutchman has become a strength, he says.
After a lifetime of trying to assimilate, he is now being hired as a specialist precisely because he offers a different perspective.

You can read about all this and much more in the bookazine. Here is the closing section of the article about Ruud Conijn: I don’t think Thomas necessarily thinks this is the best working environment.’ He looks up at roof, where Thomas is engulfed in his work. Ruud raises his voice: ‘I’m never quite content.’ Thomas still doesn’t reply; he is working and listening to the radio.
‘When the reed refuses to cooperate, that’s when I get stern. The perfect roof does not exist in the real world but is an average of all roofs,’ he acknowledges.
‘The closer the house I am thatching is to the road, the greater the risk that a colleague might pass by, and I wouldn’t want him to be able to find fault with my work.’
You are a perfectionist, I suggest. ‘Proud, perhaps,’ Ruud replies. ‘I believe pride leads to perfectionism.
Meanwhile, Thomas has come down from the roof. He suggests that we ask Professor of Psychology Sven Brinkmann to address this connection in one of his radio shows on DR (Danish Broadcasting Corporation).

Brinkmann is also indirectly involved in my latest interview, which I recently did and which will be featured in HÅNDVÆRK bookazine no. 8.
It comes out in March and is dedicated to fashion, my old home ground.

My interviewee is a knitwear producer. Before taking over his parents’ company quite a few years ago, he had almost completed his training as a psychologist and as a philosopher, and Sven Brinkman was his classmate.
The shared background is apparent. This is heritage knitwear with a philosophical twist, and the knitwear manufacturer has many thoughts that I look forward to sharing with you in March.
One of his more specific thoughts is whether his business can actually be called a craft. As he points out, according to the Danish dictionary, handcrafting in a professional capacity is
the professional execution of a process by which something is produced or processed using tools and other implements that a person operates by hand (or other parts of their body) in a way that typically requires vocational training; this work takes place in a workshop or at a building site

I have no doubt that the knitwear company is craft-based and is relevant to HÅNDVÆRK’s readers. But I love his reflection, because as crafts are becoming more trendy, the world is being flooded not just by greenwashing but also by craftwashing and locally-made-washing – when the ‘handmade’ label is more about a look than a method, and the promise of local production is, at best, a stretch.

In the bookazines I take a 360-degree look at the concept of HÅNDVÆRK: handcrafting.
This means that I look at the maker, the craft itself and craft as a condition for applied art, design, architecture, fashion and food, including when the actual production is industrial.
HÅNDVÆRK also offers insights into the architect’s perspective and the designer’s ability to analyse and conceptualise.

On this basis, the present issue invites you into my conversation with Vandkunsten Architects and with Bjarke Vind Normann of Toni Copenhagen.
Bjarke trained as an industrial designer, as did Marlene Corydon who you can meet in another article in the bookazine.
Toni Copenhagen is an old craft-based company that in recent years has transitioned into a design brand with a streamlined production on a modern production facility.
I got the story behind that process on a drive around Zealand to visit suppliers.
That is another story you can look forward to.

Before Bjarke dropped me off, he said, ‘The older I get, the more my personal contribution matters. I am proud when I tell my kids what I do. It wasn’t always like that, and it wasn’t always important to me, but now it is.’
I should add here that Bjarke has an impressive CV and that he has created designs for many well-reputed companies. He added,
‘Design that asks more questions than it answers and which doesn’t solve a problem has no justification and thus no legitimate basis for consuming the planet’s resources.

In this issue on construction, as usual, I don’t stick exclusively to the topics of craft and materials.
I also write about products – products that are a result of knowledge and skill and which give more to the world than they take.
Products that have a justification.

Thank you for your attention! As always, I welcome questions and comments at info@haandvaerkbookazine.com