Grethe Meyer’s acceptance speech at the Danish Design Award, December 8, 1997
I think it would be appropriate to explain a little about my method of working. Mostly I meet new tasks by trying to build on earlier inspirations and ideals, improving them, and where needed, bringing their qualities up to date, while preserving, what I think is important, namely that the design must be uncomplicated, and the product easy and comfortable to use, and as simple and anonymous as possible in the expression of its properties. In this way I think that beauty will present itself, – a beauty that gives the people who are using the product a natural pleasure, a pleasure that preferably grows stronger the more the product is used. I would like to quote a line from hymn.
“If all the kings went forth one day with all their might, and fettle
They could not set the smallest leaf to grow upon a nettle”
The humility, Brorson here expresses, is something we designers safely can put in our luggage.
I must say, that the older I get, the more I wonder and feel how fabulous the whole creation of the universe is.
I have a deep, deep admiration, reverence and respect for the powers, forces, call it what you will, that could create our wonderful world, I get dizzy, when I think of it, especially considering, that I know how many decisions and how much time it takes, just to make a simple, small object, such as a spoon, which is composed of only one material, and which only has to fulfill a few functions, and certainly never can or shall grow as a plant or an animal.
When we consider the universe which is continually expanding and evolving, and we try to understand, – but of course in vain,- how infinitely great it is, we know that each of us can’t even been perceived as a tiny little dot.
All the same I find it very important, that each of us put our full endeavor into the work we do, and for us, creative individuals, that we persevere, until we reach the core, the essential, the soul of the matter, if you will.
Fulfillment of this demand requires booth discipline, precision, engagement and complete attention, but also, love for the work.
We are not just born with these abilities. They can only be acquired during a lifetime. It can happen in many ways, as for example in fellowship and cooperation with people who are important for our development. Often it begins with our parents, then teachers and other inspiring and carismatic people. These are people you owe something. There is especially one person in my life that I want to mention: Børge Mogensen with whom I cooperated on “Boligens Byggeskabe”. Probably we had many common strains in our minds, this stubborn going on and on, and his stubborn axiom: “go back to the beginning and start all over again if at the back of your mind, you know that not all is right in what you are doing”. Working this way was natural to both of us. He was the most creative and artistic designer, I have known in our profession, it was privilege to meet and work with him.
I’m not a painter or a sculptor, although – in an aside – I would have liked to be both. And as I am not, I do not translate my intentions into physical specimens or unique pieces. Therefore I share this prize with all the artisans, silversmiths, chemists, technicians and other specialists, who have understood my thoughts and drawings and turned them into the finished products. They are, – or have all been linked to Royal Copenhagen, where it all started, or maybe I should say, some of it got started
I want to-day to express a strong wish, that in future much more consideration be given to the environment in all areas, than has previously been the case, and this, of cause, also in the field of design, in order to safeguard our beautiful, but fragile earth, something that my generation, unfortunately has not been very dedicated to.
And now as we are assembled in this house (The House of Industry) I will take the liberty of also addressing my opinion to the Industries and recommend that they keep as many jobs in this country as possible, while at the same time make sure to keep the good craftsmanship alive, which is essential for the quality of the products to be maintained. Thus: get many more jobs for apprentices, keep and maintain the machinery at the factories, start new, – also smaller companies. They were the ones that in the past established the quality of Danish Craft and Industry.
If this is not heeded, we shall be left one day with an impoverished country without living companies, with a population without opportunities for decent employment opportunities.
Then we can start all over again to rebuild a country that hasn’t developed, but instead deteriorated and turned into a service area This we have seen happen in many places in the world.
Finally I will thank Danish Design Center. You have all been so kind and helpful in connection with this event, lastly I will turn to the board of directors, who have pointed at me, and say thank you for giving me the prize, thank you for making me happy.