Plates with memory

How did it started with you and the ceramics?
I always loved creating things with my own hands. I was raised in a countryside so I had a lot of time to develop and nurture my passions. It started with creating flower compositions, painting, knitting, and sculpting in wood  already in primary school and gymnasium. In high school I started dreaming about studying architecture. One year before my closing exam I improved my drawing skills taking a course at a Wrocław Drawing School. My plans and dreams have changed and finally I ended up at the Artistic Education department. During my last year I started my education at the School of Form. After a year at this school and with a diploma from the Technology University I had a choice: either to stay in Poland or go to Copenhagen where my boyfriend had been for a while already. He is a cook and he’s been working for Christian Puglisi for several years, currently in the star-awarded Relae restaurant. I got to love ceramics because it is one thing in my life that I cannot fully control 100%. Emotions, sadness, everyday moods, happiness – it is all remembered by the ceramics or clay. Each item I created remembers these emotions.

Michał opened the door to you at the Copenhagen restaurants?
 Oh no, it wasn’t that easy. I still had to learn a lot. For several months I was taking care of a small gallery in Nyhavn, where I had a chance to watch three wonderful sculptors at work: Beate Andersen, Jane Reumert and Gunhild Aaberg, as well as make my own sculptures. In the meantime I got a job at a ceramics workshop Uh la la.  Actually, it was only for few hours a week but it gave me a solid basic knowledge about how to handle porcelain, which I hadn’t been working with before. For three years of my studies we had been using only clay.
When did you get the first orders?
In February 2015 I was asked by Mikael Wallgren (The Coffee Collective) to make mugs for the World Brewers Cup 2015. Soon after we decided with Michał to open our own ceramics workshop and we started to look for a perfect location. But then in the Summer of 2015 Kristian Bauman (Noma, now Head Chef at the 108 restaurant) called me. Someone recommended me and he asked if I could make plates for his new restaurant. Since Michał works as a cook, he knows many chefs in Copenhagen. One of them is Jonathan Tam – currently chef at Relae and a close friend of Kristian. As soon as I signed the rental agreement, I had a call from Kristian who learned that I had found a workshop and asked to meet me. He wasn’t happy with the plates made by other ceramics artists in Copenhagen and decided to try working with me. We had to act at the speed of light. Thanks to the help of my friend Paweł we were able to quickly buy furnaces. Each day our place was becoming more like a real workshop. And this is how I became the only person creating plates, bowls, mugs and all other ceramic stuff for 108 restaurant. Well, maybe not the only one as Michał is not only a cook but also a talented ceramics artist.


Do you work together?
In the past we did it more often, today, unfortunately, Michał doesn’t have that much time working at Manfreds.
What is it like to work with the chefs, do they know precisely what they want to order or is a process of reaching the right form together?
Co-operation with the chefs taught me many things, especially how to look at a vessel/a plate with the chef’s eyes, knowing that the food will be placed on it. It made me realise what is the best shape, thickness and weight. Today when I go to a restaurant I cannot help wondering if I like the plate I have my food served on, does it go well with the food, is it comfortable to eat out of and is there anything I would change. There are two types of chefs: the ones who exactly know what they want and whom I only suggest minor changes, give advice but all in all follow their vision, and the second type, who mostly rely on my intuition and knowledge. They tell me about the concept, interior and menu of the restaurant and I design for them. The collection is always an effect of working together. I try to consult the chefs on each stage of the work to make sure that I don’t need to come back and start from the beginning. A continuous contact is very important because we frequently  introduce minor changes. I try to be open to other ideas and develop them. Of course, during these two years I have learned a lot and I have gained experience in talking with the clients. It certainly helps I the process of designing.

Ceramic plates are expensive and when they break it’s a real pity. Do you use any special techniques to minimise it, like clay proportions?
I have worked on methods of finishing the rims and profiling the plates which minimise the risk of the plates getting jagged when accidently hitting on something. But obviously as you know, ceramic is not metal so it can be broken anytime, so you need to be really careful.
How big are your orders?
It varies, sometimes it’s just a single item for private use, on other occasion it can be several hundred pieces for brands such as Gaggenau. Our company Mk-Ceramics recently has changed into Mk-Studio, because we don’t want to limit ourselves to ceramics only. Here in our Copenhagen studio we have a big open workshop and a store. There is also a big kitchen and a space that can easily fit 30 people. We plan to organise there various events related to cooking, such as private dinners with the top chefs not only from Copenhagen.
We are keeping our fingers crossed!
Sølvgade 36, Copenhagen
Interview by Monika Brzywczy, photos: Chris Tonnesen

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