Last week I visited ARCHITECTMADE’s small woodturning workshop. ARCHITECTMADE invited me in behind the normally closed doors to see, how their famous Bird by Kristian Vedel (check this post to see Bird) and the newly relaunched Owl by Paul Anker Hansen are made – and I got to meet the designer behind the OWL himself, Paul Anker who is close to 90 years old today. Such a fun day!
Turning wood by hand is a forgotten craft. There are only a few of these workshops left in Denmark who still make wood figures by hand (with help from machines). ARCHITECTMADE works with one of them to keep the old traditions alive and to be able to actually make Danish design in Denmark. If you are a regular reader, you know that I value this quality highly.
It is not all of ARCHITECTMADE’s products that are made in Denmark as woodturners are hard to come by in Denmark today. Such a shame really when you think about how this craft is one of the cornerstones in iconic Danish design from the mid-century. But this particularly workshop produces the Bird by Kristian Vedel and the Owl by Paul Anker Hansen.
Owl was recently relaunched by ARCHITECTMADE. It was designed by Paul Anker Hansen back in 1960. Paul Anker Hansen is in his 80’s today, but a man full of life and with a spark in his eyes. I got to sit down with him last week and talk about how the Owl came to life.
Let’s start by turning back time. Paul is a veterinarian, who loves animals. The Owl in particular was a big fascination of his. He grew up on the idyllic island of Bornholm on a farm next to a big plantation. He and his three brothers spent their childhood playing in the woods, getting to know all the birds, owls and squirrels that lived there.
For years he was thinking about making an owl, but he couldn’t work out the details:
“One Sunday morning in 1960 I woke up bright and early with a clear image of the Owl in my head. The night before we had entertained guests and I got to bed late with a lot of coffee in my blood. That morning, I had finally solved the puzzle of the owl, that had been on my mind for years,” says Paul Anker Hansen.
So he wet out to his lathe and started creating. By noon he had a rough model.
“I brought it inside and showed it to my wife. She was not impressed at first. But I kept working on it and by dinner time, she could see what I was on to.”
The Owl was put into production and was produced until the producer went bankrupt in 1977. After this, Paul Anker Hansen made the owls by hand as gifts to friends and family. He keeps this up for years. His children and friends encouraged him to find a new producer so the owl wouldn’t be forgotten – and that is how he met ARCHITECTMADE.
Originally the Owl was made in teak wood, but both Paul and ARCHITECTMADE wanted to make it in Danish wood. Today the Owl is made in oak with eyes of wenge wood. The head and the body is attached with a magnet, so that the Owl can tilt its head to create various looks. It is sold throughout the world and you can find a retailer right here.
I want to say thank you to ARCHITECTMADE for inviting me in and showing me what goes on behind the scenes. I had such a great day and I loved meeting Paul Anker Hansen. I hope you, my dear reader, have enjoyed a tour behind the scenes too.
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