Stine Dulong SkandiHus felt she had found ‘home’ the moment she touched the clay.
Stine worked in the bustling City of London as a business crime lawyer for years, never quite feeling fulfilled or happy. She often felt like she went into work every day to perform a role that was written for someone else.
“Whilst still working as a lawyer, I decided to do various evening courses and one of them was a pottery class. My teacher said that as soon as I touched the clay, she saw a look in my eyes that reminded her of when she was young and the instant love she had felt for the material. She was right. I knew instinctively that I had found where I was meant to be in life. I can’t really explain it other than it felt like I had arrived home and there was simply no going back from that point onwards.” Stine shared.
When asked what drew her into ceramic making, Skine attributes it a combination of her childhood experiences in Denmark and the ability of ceramic making to ground her in a way she has never experienced before, it gives her the ability to be present, akin to a form of meditation.
“My mum has always loved pottery and every summer when I was a child, she would take me to visit the local potters where our summer house was in the north of Denmark. One of my favourite Danish potters there was Tue Poulsen, and I still have one of his angels on my bedside table which I am sure has protected me since I was a kid.”
Mostly self taught in the art of ceramic making, Stine had enrolled in a 2-year diploma course, but had decided to drop out when SkandiHus London started to take off. She credits her fellow members at the Hoxton-based social enterprise Turning Earth, an open access studio with a mission to make pottery more accessible to all, for being a pivotal factor in the success of her career change journey.
Feeling like she had joined the industry at a later point in her career, Stine initially had doubts about the career switch.
“In the beginning, I wasted a lot of energy being concerned with not being good enough and worried about what my competitors were up to. I think that because I came in from the sideline and hadn’t gone through formal arts training, I felt that what I made what not as valuable as what someone who had, for example, trained formally as a potter for a long time could offer. Luckily for me, I realised that I didn’t actually agree with this rather elitist approach and that if I was happy with my products, why wouldn’t my customers be?
I realised that when I made my work with passion and with love, this showed in the finished pieces and that this was exactly what attracted people to want to purchase it.”
Stine’s career in ceramic making also taught her an important life lesson.
“The whole concept of something being “technically perfect” is very arbitrary and made up by humans. Concepts of perfection change over time and I am not sure that perfection is something that we should blindly strive for anyhow. I think that my attitude change towards my own work was part of a wider process of me letting go of control in my life. It was so liberating to stop striving for perfection all of the time and I started being kinder to myself too as part of this process as I stopped having such high expectations of myself and therefore, put less pressure on myself. It was a case of “this is good enough/you are good enough as you are”. I now see pottery as one big lesson in letting go of control and to learn to live with failure as a natural part of the process of anything you do. There is no way that you can 100% control every step of the process when making ceramics or avoid things breaking once in a while. Letting go and accepting that you are not in control of everything is liberating and one of the best things you can do for yourself - if you want peace and a happy life.”
Hallmarks of the SkandiHus London brand are minimal distraction with maximum functionality and beauty. SkandiHus London is all about hand-made, high quality ceramics that are affordable, stylish and relevant to how we live now. Each piece sports the brand’s signature beautiful utilitarian design aesthetic. Over her six years as a ceramic artist, Stine’s style has evolved as she has grown more confident in expressing herself through her art, integrating more colour into her creations.
Through her pieces you can vicariously ‘feel’ the various elements of nature, from the graininess of the clay to the layers of colour chosen to reflect the corresponding depths of texture found in nature.
“My designs are a reflection of the journey my life has taken and who I am. The colours that I use are reminiscent of the coastal region of Hellerup, near Copenhagen, where I grew up. I love the sea, it was my life and I spent a lot of my teenage years sailing. The sea influence is reflected in many of the colours that I use – natural whites, sea blues, lagoon, turquoise and deep blue.
You can clearly see this in the Wild Wave Platter because I use a mix of two different glazes to reflect the complex and changing colour of the sea from the white crest of the waves to the deep and dark blue seas underneath. The sea off Denmark is a very dark blue, particularly in the autumn and spring.
Today, I spend a lot of my free time in the forest and hiking in different parts of the UK. The British coast has particularly captivated my heart and my love of being outdoors and connecting with the earth is reflected in all my designs. On my plates, I have deliberately have left the rims and the underside unglazed, so you can feel the natural graininess of the stoneware clay.”
With more experience built up over the years, Stine has started experimenting with products beyond tableware, including hand-building big sinks, which is one of her favourite pieces to make at the moment. She has also designed saki bottles for Nobu, citing the abundance of creative freedom and opportunity to work with interior designers to learn about the design considerations of large scale projects as key reasons why she loved the role.
Today, you can find SkandiHus tableware at The Hand & Flowers, a two Michelin-starred pub in Marlow, The George Club in Mayfair, and Nobu’s new hotel in Shoreditch amongst many others.
When she’s not creating new pieces, Stine spends her off time in Epping Forest with her dog Alfie. Her hour-long morning walks in the forest has become essential for her, as part of her morning grounding and meditation. She deliberately starts work from 10:30AM, to give all of her staff a healthy work life balance, and we can see the results in each of the handcrafted pieces embodying the calming elements of nature and free spirit.
SkandiHus London is a gleaming example of when passion points in the right direction, giving Stine an opportunity to truly shine in a field most aligned with her heart. When you love what you do it shows, and we are sure every owner of a SkandiHus London creation feels the thoughtfulness behind each piece when they bring them home.
Photos courtesy of SkandiHus London.
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