Aage and Kasper Würtz are a father and son team of ceramists internationally sought-after for their enchantingly beautiful hand-thrown, hand-glazed stoneware designs. Discovered by restaurant Noma in 2004, the Würtz earthenware became part of the restaurant’s iconic style, opening up doors to other collaborations with other top restaurants like Amass, in Copenhagen and Luksus, in NYC. With great pleasure and excitement, we sat down with Aage Würtz for a rare and exclusive interview and discovered the importance of the studio’s coffee table, what it’s like working as father and son, and what he’ll be doing tomorrow.
While employing archaic methods of crafting, the Würtz men simultaneously maintain a contemporary design aesthetic that remains timeless. Aage Würtz has dedicated his life to artisanal excellence. With every breath and bone, he tirelessly pushes onward to perfect his art – to which he sees no end. After establishing his own tableware workshop in the early 80’s, Aage re-opened a studio workshop in the early 90’s with his son Kasper, and eventually established KH Würtz in 2009.
Read on and dive deep into the mind of a true artisan, and feel free to get lost admiring pieces from their hauntingly beautiful collection. Let us remind you: these are each created entirely by hand.
How did it all begin?
My first contact with clay in 1971, enthralled me to turn the wheel. Apart from an attempted escape from the wheel in the ’90s, I have been sitting there since. I rejoice now 44 years later, a day of feeling and looking forever for the perfect expression.
KH Würtz was formed in 2009, when Kasper and I swapped roles. He took over the leadership and responsibility of glaze development. My responsibility was limited to my core competency: my love for clay on the wheel. The field between the glaze and the shape is a common playground where the energy sparkles.
What does an average day look like for each of you?
At 8 pm, we meet. It is a very conversational workshop. While we drink a cup of coffee, we talk about what is going on, both privately and in society. Then, the tasks are distributed between all of us, and we start at our workstations. The heart is the kiln that provides the pulse, but the center is the coffee table. There, we meet. That’s where we warm up. There, we create. There, we fight, dream, and laugh together. My work is turning and devloping the smaller series. It fills my day. And with joy, I look forward to tomorrow, where I, with few changes, will repeat the eternal attempt to turn ceramics that can and will be used.
How do you describe Würtz ceramics?
As a workshop, there is great passion and pride in producing useable ceramics. By limitation, we seek deeply to perfect our narrow field of work.
Can you describe the process and importance of the ancient techniques you utilize in your studio?
The old turning technology allows a sensitivity to our design. This diversity – we seek to maintain and strengthen in the further course.
Before the burning process, we add unstable elements. The transformation of the final firing increases glaze variations with an element of happenstance. The most beautiful “happenstances,” we seek humbly to repeat again day after day.
As a counterweight, we have the fixed firing temperature as the balancing system on the edge of a kinfe. It is the best place to work in our search for perfection, with the stable firing as a set point.
Tell us about one of your favorite collaborations with a restaurant or chef.
Our first experience with making special plates for a restaurant was with Noma, in 2006. René had ordered a larger collection than we delivered. It was a great experience and feeling that our ceramic expression was sought by Noma. To see the commitment of Noma’s people to do their absolute best was fantastic. Seeing that there were other craftsmen who also consistently strived for beauty and the right, was an experience printed stuck. To see the very best chefs use our stoneware as the basis for their culinary artistry. That our ceramics were not gathering dust on a shelf, but were being used again and again, day after day, gave the revitalization of the workshop.
It was an experience that filled us with both pride and humility.
How do you balance creativity and sensibility?
I am unsure if I am able to balance it alone. But the experience of cooperation and external requirements helps to both sharpen and/or dampen creativity and sensitivity when it is needed. If I worked alone, my sensibility would take the upper hand and delay the work in my search for the right expression, or my creativity would fall into the trap of the endless possibilities for solutions. It has become a necessity for me to be in close cooperation with the professional, capable, and creative colleagues in the workshop in order to keep me on track in the ongoing search for the perfect form.
What is it like – working as father and son?
It’s the best thing that has happened in my working life. It is both simple and complicated. In addition, I get my horizons expanded in close cooperation with Kasper, who’s youth has a strong sense of pulse. It provides the necessary counterpoint to the experience and tradition. There is much more width and depth in collaborating with my son that I do not think I would be able to experience with someone else. It provides peace of work with the goal to create the perfect shape with the perfect glazing. The family bond with my son provides an extra generation of time for the impossible dream: to create the perfect piece of pottery.
3 things each of you can’t live without?
Love, ceramics, and the will.
Any hobbies outside of your work?
I have a keen interest in social issues and literature.
What’s next for you?
Tomorrow, I will do my best to make the perfect piece of pottery. And work toward that the knowledge of the production of our craft can remain alive – so KH Würtz may maintain its vitality moving forward.