It’s almost 16 years since the Danish ceramic artist Bjørn Wiinblad died, but his Blue House still remains a landmark. Wiinblad was one of the most famous and popular Danish artists of the last century. Learn more about the Danish ceramic artist’s legendary Blue House.
Bjørn Wiinblad (1918-2006) owned a number of houses and apartments in Denmark and Europe, but he reserved a special place in his heart for The Blue House. He bought the charming wooden building from the Swedish applied artist Brita Drewsen in 1966. Brita Drewsen continued to live in the guest house located at the end of the large and beautifully planted grounds, while Bjørn Wiinblad resided in the main building, which he furnished with his own designs, furniture and carpets, supplemented by his huge art collection.
The Blue House
The Blue House was Wiinblad’s home and workshop until his death in 2006. Today, the Blue House is owned by the Bjørn Wiinblad Fund. Wiinblad’s longtime chauffeur and right-hand man, René Schultz, is responsible for its day-to-day care, as well as for guided visits.
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At a very early age, Bjørn Wiinblad began to show signs of his talent for drawing and creating imaginative worlds. Aged 17, he began an apprenticeship as a typographer, but soon realized that his heart was set on following the path of an artist.
Joie de vivre
Ceramics, porcelain and graphics with Wiinblad’s lush, colorful shapes and winding lines, gradually became a great international success. He made advertising posters and fountains for the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. The Blue House is in every respect a reflection of Wiinblad’s maximalism and joie de vivre – and a riot of sensory impressions.
He is most famous for the distinctive ceramics he designed for Nymølle and Rosenthal, found today in homes around the world. He created everything from dinnerware to furniture, from fountains to sculptures as well as restaurants and cruise ships. He made stage curtains for ballets and opera performances in Denmark, Oslo and Beirut.
The romantic worlds of Bjørn Wiinblad
Even though Bjørn Wiinblad was Copenhagen born and bred, and had trained in Copenhagen, his style was anything but Danish, and while functionalism ruled the roost in Denmark, Bjørn Wiinblad went the other way, espousing a style dominated by wavy lines, bright colors and romantic worlds.
The 700 m2 Blue House in Kongens Lyngby, outside Copenhagen, which Wiinblad bought in the early 1960s functioned as both an open artist’s home and a living workshop for ceramic artists. The House still stands today exactly as it was when he died. It includes a host of secret rooms – are laid out with the most amazing interiors consisting of a huge, multifarious art collection from all parts of the world, as well as books from floor to ceiling. They bear testimony to a much-loved and intellectual multi-artist.
An artist of international greatness
Wiinblad taught himself a variety of ceramic techniques, and from there he expanded his vigorous talent for creation and delight in art to encompass ‘all platforms’.
Wiinblad’s international greatness can be compared to that of Søren Kierkegaard or, for a more contemporary reference, the artist Olafur Eliasson – although Wiinblad never achieved the same artistic recognition in Denmark as Olafur Eliasson. He did outside Denmark, however, where he was commissioned to design complete hotel furnishing solutions in Japan, the United States and Germany. To the 2500th anniversary of the Persian Empire in 1971, he designed a completely gold-plated dining plates set inspired by Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” on which royals from all over the world, including his good friend Queen Ingrid, have enjoyed their dinners.
A simple life in the Blue House
In the Blue House, Wiinblad had no television set. He subscribed to the newspaper Politiken, but only read the book reviews. The artist was perceived as a person who made beauty just for the sake of beauty. He was just as happy to make cake boxes for the supermarket chain Irma as graphic prints, often in large numbers.
The blue clapboard home on a quiet side street in Lyngby is deceptively unassuming. It’s been the site of fashionable dinner parties for movie stars and royalty and houses spectacular art and antiques collections. It also holds works by the eccentric Wiinblad, along with personal mementos and objects that tell the tale of his journey to international fame.
Curiosity was his trademark
It was at his drawing board in the Blue House — which boasts a view of the garden’s magnolia tree — that Wiinblad created thousands of his singular pieces, everything from figures and ceramic plaques to theater sets and costumes to Oriental-style tapestries. He was a prolific artist whose diverse works ranged from incredibly expensive and unique projects to mass-produced ashtrays.
Wiinblad did not leap randomly from one object to the next. It was more a matter of an ongoing process, in which one object pointed to the next, and where Wiinblad’s curiosity served to reinforce the flow.
He regularly took the ferry to Norway to open exhibitions and meet customers at his Norwegian gallery.
Day in, day out, guests were invited to dinner with Wiinblad as the focal point and generous host. He was also keen to invite guests to ‘his’ restaurant at Hotel d’Angleterre – Restaurant Wiinblad – which he furnished and decorated in 1994.
Visit the Blue House
The Blue House is normally off limits to the general public, but associations and large groups (min. 16 people) can visit it by arrangement. On such occasions, one or more people who were close to Bjørn Wiinblad will lead a guided tour and tell stories and anecdotes from Bjørn Wiinblad’s remarkable life.
A Danish Ceramic Artist’s Legendary Blue House, written by Tor Kjolberg