Det Brune Værksted
The people behind this enigmatically named business are two highly skilled, successful craft artists: glass-blower Maj-Britt Zelmer Olsen and ceramist Sarah Oakman, founder of the ceramics undertaking “Oh Oak”.
It’s not often that a glass-blower joins forces with a ceramist, but in this case it makes lots of sense. Their collaboration has been essential to create the success they have both enjoyed – despite their differences in terms of materials and styles.
Maj-Britt’s refined, delicate works of glass art and Sarah’s functional, slightly rougher style go well together in their shared shop and workshop in Nexø where all the products are created. Both women collaborate, develop and produce items for a few of the leading restaurants in Denmark. So collaboration has only enhanced the popularity of their craft art. Drop by Det Brune Værksted (which is no longer brown, by the way) and fall in love with some of Danish craft art’s new shining stars and their products.
In addition to being incredibly talented, Maj-Britt Zelmer Olsen also has all her papers in order. She has a bachelor’s degree from the School of Design, Bornholm, and a master’s degree from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (KADK), in Copenhagen. She has also served as an apprentice for several renowned glass-blowers, including Susanne Jøker Johnsen, so her craftsmanship and professional credentials are impeccable.
By contrast with many other glass-blowers, Maj-Britt prefers clear glass, which she congeals using sand from Balka Strand, volcanic ash from Iceland or sand from Greenland, brought back by husband from his job working on ships in the North Atlantic. Making glass like Maj-Britt’s is not easy. Every single object of craft art takes hours to make. This is appreciated by the Michelin three-star restaurant Geranium, which serves its exclusive gourmet dishes on Maj-Britt’s glass products.
Sarah Oakman had to set her production process in motion almost as soon as she graduated from the School of Design, Bornholm, KADK, in 2016: Chef Jesper Vollmer had discovered her functional cups and plates while Sarah was still a student. Since then, events have come in rapid succession, with restaurants – both on Bornholm and abroad – using her pottery; most recently, the hip coffee bar Prolog Kaffe, situated in Copenhagen’s avantgarde former meat-packing district, started collaborating with Sarah. So far, this has resulted in some elegant coffee cups, which, like the rest of Sarah’s ceramic products, can be purchased in her shop in Nexø.
FDB Møbler also became aware of this talented young ceramist, which is why Sarah has designed a series of large tubs and platters for them. As she puts it: “It’s thrilling, but also quite strange, to see my own portrait hanging on FDB’s wall – right next to that of legendary Børge Mogensen.”
Both craft artists have exhibited their works at renowned venues. For example, Maj-Britt’s products have been exhibited at Art Month on Ameland, the Netherlands, and last year she also designed a lovely dome used at the international Bocuse d’Or chefs competition.
Sarah has taken part in spring and autumn exhibitions at Charlottenborg (KADK’s official exhibition gallery in Copenhagen), and CLAY, the Museum of Ceramic Art Denmark, purchased her graduation project for its permanent exhibition.
Recently, the two craft artists were selected to exhibit a work at the 2019 Biennale for Craft and Design in Copenhagen.
The name “Det Brune Værksted” originates from the first workshop they shared. It was a former butcher’s shop, with brown tiles on the walls. They quickly outgrew the facility and had to move to their present location – but they kept the name.