By Bolette Bramsen
This year marks the 230th anniversary of the illustrious dinner service No.1 from the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Manufactory.
Just 20 years after the opening of the Hotel D’Angleterre, the first Blue Fluted plate saw the light of day at Copenhagen’s oldest porcelain factory. Ever since, the Blue Fluted service has been one of the most popular and widespread sets available – and not only in Denmark. All over the world, it has become the epitome of Danish porcelain.
With its universal success, the Blue Fluted dinner service has become the mainstay of the factory’s production and the only design that has stayed in production since the founding of the factory in 1775. Changes have of course been made over the years – new shapes and decorations. Just a few years ago, it was given a surprising new look. The innovation was unexpected and came quite out of the blue.
Blue Fluted Mega – a mega hit
26 year-old Karen Kjældgård-Larsen, a student at Danmarks Designskole, was preparing for her graduation assignment. She had chosen a topic along the lines of ‘Decoration as a means of expression’. The assignment was purely experimental. She, like so many Danes, had been familiar with Blue Fluted porcelain ever since she was a child, so it was a natural choice to make when she decided to explore the possibilities inherent in this particular pattern. Using paper and pen, she experimented with various designs. The final result was so exciting that her teacher suggested that she show her assignment to factory executives.
“I had not been thinking in commercial terms at all,” she says, “In fact I was worried that they might see my work as rather blasphemous!”
However, over at the Royal Copenhagen, her idea generated enormous interest. It just happened that the company was looking for something innovative to mark the factory’s 225th anniversary the following year. And before too long, a set of six dinner plates had been put into production. It became an immediate success, and was soon followed by cups, bowls, and dishes. The set was a resounding hit, particularly popular with the younger generation. The fact that the Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark asked for a set as a wedding gift was particularly pleasing to Karen Kjældgård-Larsen, who seized the opportunity to design new ‘Mega’ decorations for dishes, soup tureens, and bowls, although these are not yet in production.
Full and Half Lace models at the Nordic Exhibition.
However, Karen Kjældgård-Larsen was not the first person to be inspired by the classical pattern, neither is she the first to bring new life to the Blue Fluted design. When, in 1884, he was appointed as Artistic Director of the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Manufactory, Arnold Krog initiated the refurbishment of the Blue Fluted pattern, which he thought had become somewhat jaded. He created the Full and Half Lace designs which are still so popular today. The designs were inspired by the original patterns, but he added his own touch. The outcome was a highly successful combination of old and new. His work was presented at *The Nordic Exhibition* in Copenhagen in 1888, and the innovation that he had created was a vital factor in bringing about the factory’s international breakthrough.
Blue Fluted – courtesy of China
Blue Fluted porcelain has become synonymous with the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Manufactory, but this stylized, intricate, floral style originates from an ancient Chinese pattern, which became popular with several European porcelain factories – notably that at Meissen – in the early 1700’s. Cobalt blue-painted Chinese porcelain was introduced in Europe in the early 1600’s by seafarers travelling the ancient trade routes of the Orient. The reason that the Chinese had chosen cobalt blue as the dominant colour in their decorations was that it preserved its properties even at extreme temperatures around 1400 degrees Celsius.
The same decorative techniques were used at the factory in Copenhagen. Using cobalt blue allowed the porcelain to be decorated and glazed in the same process as opposed to the method used with Saxon Flowers, which are painted on top of the glaze – a work process that often took days. The intricate Saxon decorations were not only time-consuming; they also require repeated glazing. The underglazed decorations using cobalt blue, on the other hand, are not only cheaper due to the simplified process they are also more durable since the patterns are not subjected to the same wear and tear as overglazed designs.