Skall Letter No. 44

Barbara Bendix Becker - The art of sensing

After more than 25 years in the design field, eternally creative Barbara Bendix Becker has
found that the art of sensing is the foundation of good design. Over the decades, this has been challenged by mass production and a goal of quickly reaching the end product stage.

“In my opinion, the design profession is diluting itself. Everything needs to move quickly and the creative processes have been cut so much down which means that there is no longer time for the investigative side of things. Often, it just comes down to choosing a Pantone colour. This is sad, because we are losing something huge here,” she begins purposefully when we meet here in her studio in Charlottenlund.

Barbara Bendix Becker is a graduate of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and over the years she has worked as a creative consultant and also worked with design, ceramics and textile design. She has also written several cookbooks.

“The creative professions have a natural overlap, but design has always been my focal point,” she says and adds that she has always enjoyed challenging the traditional limits of professions.

In the last few years, she has acquired a strong desire to return to the roots of the design profession. Back to the investigative processes:

“I want to work with glazing, dyeing and real weave samples. In Denmark, we have a design tradition that cherishes craftsmanship and the investigative aspect, and it would be incredibly sad if we end up like a China-producing country,” says Barbara, who is also the owner of the online store Salome’s where you can find a carefully chosen selection of fine old objects with a story.

Can poor design have an outright impact on our minds?

“The eye gets bored with a lot of design because they are mass produced and created without thoughtfulness. Our minds and souls get dull when they are not stimulated. And worst of all: We lose our ability to sense. We need to smell, feel and, not least, eat well. If not, we get what I call a dull state of mind.”

Is your design approach something that you can trace to your childhood?

“My mother was a ceramist and my father traded antiques. There was always a focus on good craftsmanship and quality. For example, throughout my childhood I was wrapped in pure wool and I experienced early on what it means to wear a real wool sweater. The kind of warmth that you get from that, wearing knit wool instead of synthetic fleece. I have definitely developed my senses during my childhood.”

Barbara has lived and worked in Italy several times and here she quickly fell in love
with the ability to enjoy life and use the senses:

“In the southern countries, they are good at feeling things and making cosy surroundings. Often, it does not require more than a ray of sunshine, four plastic chairs and a cup of tea. In Denmark, we are building a lot of homes where the balcony is facing the wrong side so that not a single ray of sunshine reaches it. On the other hand, there is plenty of space for large lounge furniture. But who really wants to sit there? For me, this is another sad example of how you forget to sense in the process.”

She goes back to talking about Italy and about the Mediterranean, which is an endless source of inspiration for her:

“This culture has a lightness to it and some values that are important to me like family values and the idea of gathering around the table. In southern countries, you feel yourself more from the inside. When I am there, I wake up as the sun rises. That suits me better.

Fortunately,Barbara can see that there is some disruption in relation to quality and design:

“I am seeing that more and more people are longing for things that are made by hand. I am well aware that surrounding yourself with good craftsmanship is a privilege and often very costly, but if you have the chance to do so, I think you are obliged to.”

Barbara is always working on new exciting projects. It is in her nature and her urge to create. Currently, she is, among other things, working with the carpet company Kusiner Carpets which she is also a part of and which employees skilled weavers in Israel and India. The new project, Salomes kusiner, is based on the classic block print craft.

“In my work with Kusiner Carpets, I can immerse myself in the various design processes and unfold a classic craft. That is immensely satisfying.”

Please note that the pictures are copyrighted and only for internal use. The pictures may therefore not be distributed in any way.

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