Some of the most inspiring individuals get to where they are thanks to a strong work ethic and sense of commitment. For this reason, I've chosen to explore the theme of practice, in every sense of the word. Naturally, one looks at the word and considers their piano lessons as a child with the hackneyed phrase "practice makes perfect" on repeat in their mind. But it's a clever word, both a noun and a verb, that I attribute to the idea of a focus.
I'll introduce the theme with my interview with Anders Arhoj and his practice of pottery. Anders is the owner of the interior and design studio,
Located in Islands Brygge, it's both a studio and design shop filled with the work and designs by Anders. Entering the shop, you're greeted by collections of the most complimenting colours and the peeping eyes of ghosts. You may be familiar with his most iconic creation, the Ghost, which came about by the influence of Japanese character design while partaking in a creative experiment with another ceramicist. Before long, it was scouted by HAY and helped launch Anders' mass success.
Prior to this, Anders had spent a year abroad in Japan, studying and also working as a graphic designer, when he fell in love with Japanese ceramics. Although he is back in Denmark and based here, he still has a strong connection to the country, evident in the style of many of his designs and why Japanese tourists who come to Copenhagen tag Studio Arhoj as of much as an attraction as the Little Mermaid.
Often I'm able to see slight similarities in the minimalist concepts that both Danish design and Japanese design share, but when asking Anders how he would define the difference between the two, he answers:
"Danish porcelain tends to be very clean and very industrial. Where in Japan, the ceramics have a more rustic feel and appearance."
I look at some of his products that could be an example of the statement above. While some have very smooth and glossy finishes, the occasional cup or bowl will be matte and have speckles, lines or discoloured patches, imperfections that could perhaps resemble a stone wall or pavement.
The process involved in making the ceramics is both experimental and traditional. Skilled potters work with varying types of clay at the throwing wheel while porcelains are made in specific plaster moulds. They use large kilns for drying and a glaze made of finely ground mills and chalk.
"A potter is essentially an efficient human machine. It's very technical but that's what it is about craft. You need to put in the effort and have the skill to work on the craft," Anders explains.
What is particularly special about Studio Arhoj is the space invites all ideas, errors and accidental creativities. Since the items are not mass produced, each product can be so unique. Sometimes, in the complicated glazing process, it will drip off the ceramic, but it gives it a rather interesting look, which Anders regularly keeps. And despite the fact that maybe 10% of what they make crumbles or cracks, the potters at the studio are creative enough and keen to work with the challenge of any mistake.
Witnessing Anders in his studio, he seems very much in his element. It's an organic environment for him - a wide open space like a canvas for his ideas.