The Universe of a Danish Ceramics Design Company

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The Universe of a Danish Ceramics Design Company

The ceramics company Kähler was founded by the Danish potter Herman J. Kähler in the town of Næstvedt on the island of Zealand in 1839. Up until 1974 the company was owned by the Kähler family but since then changed hands many times before landing in the hands of architect Frantz Longhi. Learn more about the universe of the Danish ceramics design company.

For many years, Kähler was very much a one-man-show, making simple kitchenware and heating stoves. Joachim’s son Herman A, Kähler attended the Technical School in Copenhagen (1864–65) while studying privately under Herman Wilhelm Bissen. Thereafter he travelled to Germany, Switzerland and Paris, returning to Næstved at the end of 1867.

Together with his younger brother Carl Frederik Kähler took over the family business in 1872 and began searching for new and innovative ceramics techniques.

The Universe of a Danish Ceramics Design Company
Kähler Omaggio vase

Related: The Danish Glass and Ceramics Biennal

Carl became responsible for producing faience while Herman specialized in manufacturing tiled stoves. In 1875, after Carl withdrew and the original factory had burnt down, Herman built a new factory on the town’s outskirts where he produced both stoves and pottery. Inspired by Vilhelm Klein, Herman A. Kähler started to experiment with more appealing designs with glazed finishes. In 1886, he succeeded in attracting the artists H. A. Brendekilde, L. A. Ring and Carl O. J. Lund.

The Universe of a Danish Ceramics Design Company
Kähler Kontur vase

As a result of his collaboration with the artist Vilhelm Klein, Kähler became interested in obtaining the red lustre glaze known as maiolica which had been produced in Gubbio, Italy, in the 16th century. In 1888 he developed the now-famous “Kähler red,” a ruby red lustre glaze in the maiolica-tradition. This launched him and the company to global recognition when he showed at the Great Nordic Exhibition in Copenhagen, followed by the World Expo in Paris in 1889. From then on, Kähler was cemented as a ceramics brand that could not only make basic home items like tiles and kitchenware, but also ceramic art.

The Universe of a Danish Ceramics Design Company
Bowl with ducks, designed by Karl Hansen Reistrup. Uranium

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Kähler became known for making art, but in a democratic and affordable way. This is also what’s kept them contemporary.

The designer Karl Hansen Reistrup (1863–1929) joined the enterprise and assisted in the production of finely formed, artistically decorated items, especially vases.

Kähler was sold to Næstved Municipality in 1974. Though today the ceramics are no longer made in Næstved, the brand is still dear to the city’s heart. The Næstved Museum now has the world’s largest collection of historical Kähler pieces (although they are not yet on display).

Kähler went through several hands before seriously relaunching in 2007. The brand was revitalized, most notably with the introduction of the Omaggio vase, a collaboration between Stilleben studio and Kähler, in 2007.

In 2015, the Hammershøi collection was launched. Created by Norwegian designer Hans Christian Bauer, the silhouette is inspired by the work of Svend Hammershøi. It’s both minimalist and engaging, with an all-over ridged pattern that makes it pleasingly tactile, while the shiny glaze keeps it sleek and modern.

The Universe of a Danish Ceramics Design Company
Kähler Hammershøi collection

Related: Design Museum Copenhagen Reopens June 2022

Rosendahl Design Group bought Kähler in 2018 and the ceramics company has continued to grow, bringing in more design collaborations, such as the recent partnership with Turi Heisselberg Pedersen – called the Kontur vase – that was available at Illums Bolighus from October 2019. Kähler continues to give customers high levels of craftsmanship at reasonable prices, while offering a chance to own ceramics by innovative artists.

The Universe of a Danish Ceramics Design Company, written by Tor Kjolberg

All images © Kähler

Feature image (on top): On September 27, 2016, Princess Marie of Denmark attended the opening ceremony of old ceramic art company Kähler’s historic ceramics factory at Kähler in Naestved, Denmark. Kähler was founded in 1839 and the exhibition has many of the first designs and production methods on display. Photo: newmyroyals.com

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Journalist, PR and marketing consultant Tor Kjolberg has several degrees in marketing management. He started out as a marketing manager in Scandinavian companies and his last engagement before going solo was as director in one of Norway’s largest corporations. Tor realized early on that writing engaging stories was more efficient and far cheaper than paying for ads. He wrote hundreds of articles on products and services offered by the companies he worked for. Thus, he was attuned to the fact that storytelling was his passion.