Millesgården, Stockholm
April 27 – August 31, 2003

Ceramicist and glass designer Ingegerd Råman exhibits glass and ceramics at Millesgården. In a retrospective exhibition Ingegerd Råman presents works representing 35 years production.

Ingegerd Råman is a potter educated at Stockholm’s College of Design and Handcrafts. She has also studied at Instituto Statale d’Arte per la Ceramica in Faenza, Italy. Ingegerd Råman worked as a glass designer at first at Johanfors and later at Skrufs glassworks. Today she is linked to Orrefors Kosta Boda AB. At times, she also works in her own studio on Djurgården in Stockholm.

Råman is one of the most highly regarded glass designers in Sweden today. She has received the award “Excellent Swedish Form” innumerable times. Ingegerd Råman is internationally recognized and respected. Her work has its natural place when Swedish design is presented abroad. For instance, she is the sole Swedish designer to have been invited to exhibit at the world-leading and tone-setting design boutique, Colette in Paris (Autumn 2002).

Three words that describe best Ingegerd Råman’s design are simplicity, function and aesthetics. Timelessness and purity in the clear glass are qualities that she finds congenial. “My forms are always simple. I proceed from the cone, the sphere, and the ordinary building blocks. I always make things for use. I wish them the looks as if they have always existed.”

Ingegerd Råman is appointed as professor by the National Government. She is represented at, among others, the National Museum in Stockholm, Röhsska Museum in Gothenburg, Victoria and Albert Museum of Glass in USA and Riihimäki Glass Museum in Finland.

Professor Tom Hedqvist, the rector for Beckman’s School of Design, has designed the exhibition catalogue, the poster and opening invitation card. Ingegerd Råman has collaborated with Tom Hedqvist in the planning and hanging of the exhibition.

She hacks into the glass – polishes or sandpapers with a stubbornness which gives her classic taut forms wholly new expression. The direction which Ingegerd Råman is taking has become all the more unpredictable. After having devoted more than 30 years to renewing and refining transparent simplicity, she now makes one high kick turn after the other… With bubbles and colour, slashes and whirling movements, she creates her own renewal. Expands by stretching her circles, turns and twists the forms.

It was three years ago that Ingegerd Råman began a completely new glass career at Orrefors. This she initiated in the glassworks’ large exhibition hall introducing herself to the public with a retrospective survey of her earlier work, partially unknown in the province of Småland. She had previously worked successfully at the Skruf works in the shadow of the large glassworks, but with international renown. In parallel she had worked in her own ceramic workshop on Djurgården in Stockholm.

Her straight and sovereign simple water carafes, drinking glasses and candle holders were discovered in the 1990’s by design boutiques of distinction in Paris, London, New York and Tokyo.

The debut at Orrefors was a form moralist’s personal account of patient development of articles for everyday use of ceramic and glass. Original bowls in various formats, the pitcher, the mug and beyond all this, as the icing on the cake, large generous serving dishes accompanied by glass services treated with the same strict philosophy. Two materials with their contrasts: powerfully solid in black, white or terracotta and fragile transparent in clear or frosted glass create mutual harmony. Thus the public is served with a valued lesson in how one may with glass and ceramics create a sensual everyday delight.

For many a typically “Råmanistic” direct statement is a balm in a world dominated by innumerable gestures with laboured forms and superficial decor. Her simplicity fills its function, both for her and others, because it allows for so many variations. She herself is attracted both by nature’s artistry and the artistry of others.

Ingegerd creates forms that become tools. Professionally well-reasoned. Every step in the work process is important for her, whether it concerns forming a vessel, arranging flowers in a vase or preparing the dish to a work of art. When she spreads a handful course salt on the tiniest oval Pond dish it is never by pure chance. The combination of salt and glass is carefully balanced by an experienced hand.

Now she widens the narrative, giving us the continuation of the story, which to a great degree answers the challenge of those possibilities for experimentation that Orrefors offer. In addition, the special orders from private commissioners offer her a more personal dialogue on function and beauty. Amongst others the new and both generous and somewhat Spartan, white service for the dining rooms in Telenor’s new headquarters in Oslo, manufactured by Norwegian Figgjo.

We who make up the vast anonymous clientele need not worry ourselves. We can have faith in Ingegerd always having her possessiveness in focus. She is directed by her own standard of quality which has through the years become increasingly selective. The four oval dishes of centrifuged glass that stacked upon each other form a sculptural unity was a lack, which she recognized. A simple basic form in varying sizes, which has its own radiance and at the same time compact for storage is doubly valuable.
When the results exceed her own expectations, she becomes happy as a child – euphoric. The Pond dish is a development of a technique that has its roots in Sven Palmqvist’s classic Fuga bowls.

“Collecting together three decades of work is like travelling backward in time. Surprisingly one sees old experiences with new eyes. Every time I have changed direction, I have taken a step nearer myself”, Ingegerd has concluded. This is an insight which allows her to continue stretching boundaries and exhibit her own creativity from new angles of approach. The architectonic design of the room and architecture’s co-operation with objects has always engaged her. Her own surroundings are minimal – cleansed from everything superfluous. Perhaps that seems demanding, but it is an expression of the fact that it is individuals and nature that are important. It is in Scania that she and her husband Claes Söderquist have their home, a former school built in the 1920’s and transformed into a dwelling with white rooms, clean lines and generous space by the young architectural trio, Claesson Koivisto Rune. A free-standing newly built wing is a studio and workshop. In order to create a courtyard it has been matched by an angled pendant structure, specially built wall for firewood. The architect’s and the commissioner’s visions didn’t always coincide, which forced both parties to elucidate. For Ingegerd this became a stimulating ping-pong match, where all won, by listening to each other in order to move on and develop a sustainable quality. Intercourse with a creative younger generation was a further bonus. For the presentation of the first collection for Orrefors, Claesson Koivisto Rune made the exhibition arrangements, surprising her white and black artist’s soul by placing the Slow Fox glass on intensely shining yellow podium.

Millesgården’s Exhibition Hall invites high standards, as does the collaboration with exhibition architect and designer Tom Hedqvist. He made the first retrospective presentation at Orrefors. Now they have developed a dialogue, deepened the pedagogy, moved on and balanced the aesthetic severity – created a place for humour and thought.

The exhibit includes both her own sketches and the art which Ingegerd knows that she cannot do without, those that she feels a special affinity for in the Modern Museum’s collection. The choice of art works describe preferences rather than references. The list of Råman’s favourites that have followed her through the years are as concise as her form language: Mondrian, Barnett Newman, Gerhard Richter, Torsten Andersson, Dick Bengtsson, Håkan Rehnberg and On Kawara belong to the club. The first three of these are absent from the room.

“I have often been inspired by art, literature and pictures in books. It is my own responsibility to educate myself – develop in order to move on in the artistic work. Art is complicated, even if it sometimes can seem so simple. I believe that my contact with art and artists has given me my own security to master the craft.”

Through the years she has emphasised the importance of the craft – never calling herself a craftsman, instead maintaining that she is a potter and glass designer. The proposal to show her sketches was not her own. Her first reaction was mild opposition – the sketches weren’t up to par. They would even reveal that she had never been a true adept with pencils and paper. The discovery of a folder with Vicke Lindstrand’s sketches in the Orrefors archive became an interesting turning point. “A collection of preserved passing fancies. I considered them to be magical. He worked with shading, blasting and painting, the instructions were succinct, but they inspired me to continue. To the characteristic Mingus pitcher from the 1930’s, his sketch was only the size of a postage stamp. That gave me much more than a corrected working drawing,” she summarizes her decision to show her sketches. Before they disappear.

“All the working drawings have been made on tracing paper which has the desirable quality of being perishable. The point with tracing paper is that it is easy to lay a new paper over the sketch and test other lines. Parallel with sketching, I always create a three-dimensional form in my head. On paper I can see immediately if it is wrong. But it isn’t always so easy to proceed, to make it correspond to the demand for perfection which is the goal.”

“The Triumph of Simplicity” was the title of a renowned silver exhibition at the National Museum. For Ingegerd it is simplicity’s triumph, which challenges her to refine the forms. At the same time she requires the public to accept a quality, which is cleansed of ingratiating traits and experience the joy of making their own contribution. Time influences us all, it has been important for Ingegerd to stop every fifth year and appraise how her growth has progressed.

The exhibition is a resumé of the progressive development in glass, ceramics and metal.