Nordic Noir - Meet a couple of Copenhagen’s Creatives
Recently I took a trip to Copenhagen, a breezy 40 minute flight from Berlin with the intention of a) celebrating one more lap around the sun, b) ascertaining whether I could see myself living there after the summer of 2019 and c) meeting with Danish locals who work in the textiles, and specifically fashion and costume industry. Step up Kristine Mandsberg and Charlotte Østergaard; I had the pleasure of talking to these delightful women about their wealth of experience navigating an industry i’ve always been told is under-funded by the Australian Government - and much more celebrated and encouraged abroad.
Kristine Mandsberg works as a multidisciplinary designer and received a Bachelor in Textile Design from the Kolding School of Design, and afterwards a Masters at the Royal College of Art in London. Kristine now works from a studio space in east Nørrebro, and upon entering I was instantly mesmerised by the collection of inanimate foam objects, stuffed textiles and tactile ornaments stacked to the ceiling, filling the studio space.
Kristine was one more individual, after several other Danish encounters who solidified for me that the Danes are genuinely lovely, friendly and open people. I immediately felt welcome in her studio space, and learnt the following pearls of wisdom as we spoke:
There’s no ‘right way’ to do anything as a creative process. This, I thought was important to remember, especially as I am the type of person who likes to follow a formula or set of rules. An immaculate formula doesn’t exist in creative pursuits, and I got a real sense that Kristine has enough experience and rapport to make her own individual process work.
Working in the textile industry means resigning to being a ‘part-time idealist’ (Kristine’s words). It’s no secret that the textile industry is guilty of perpetuating an environmental crisis. But then there’s the ever present need to live, to earn money, and to answer the call when a client comes knocking.
Working in textiles, specifically textile design is geographically relevant. Consider; the themes and aesthetics used through Scandinavia in comparison to say, those sought out in the US. It makes sense, but not something I’d ever really considered.
Kristine marvelled at the flexibility on offer to her working as a freelancer, and for companies from all corners of the earth. And while juggling projects in textile design, teaching in her home town of Kolding she also produces work for exhibitions. You can follow her creative ventures on Instagram here.
Meeting Charlotte Østergaard was a genuine pleasure, and again, I was so humbled to be welcomed into her personal work space. Charlotte’s work can often be distinguished by its use of pleats and folds throughout the medium, much like life-size origami interlocked within textile. There were pieces scattered and suspended around her studio like a miniature showroom that looked like it belonged backstage at a theatre production.
Many of Charlotte’s work centres around contemporary dance, and this she tells me, has transpired after years of connecting with choreographers who come back to her time and time again. There has been a trust established, that she can and will execute an aesthetic that matches the concept behind the performance at hand.
When I asked Charlotte how it was she became known in the theatre industry, she emphasised the power of word of mouth. She is also formally trained in fashion design, and for a period of time worked as a fashion designer and owned her own label - “a collection based on a passion for pleating techniques”. The label was housed in a beautiful part of town, and the space is now occupied by a local tailor. The transition from fashion designer to costume designer is one that transpires quite naturally, and whilst both careers work intrinsically with textiles and body form, Charlotte’s genuine passion for costume design is so apparent. There is an alluring aspect of a costume’s ephemeral purpose, and the imagination that’s required to bring a story to life on stage.
Follow along her journey via Instagram here.