Mette Bentzen and Lasse Kristensen, known collectively as Egeværk, are dynamic young furniture designers with a creatively ambitious workshop based in Hundested, near Copenhagen. Their progressive practice challenges the status quo in the world of Danish fine furniture; they create meticulously crafted contemporary sculptural and conceptual pieces, while drawing on craft traditions dating back to the time of their great-grandparents.The ICE series originated from a deep-rooted connection to the landscape in Egeværk’s native homeland and neighbouring countries, specifically the harsh winter icescapes of Denmark, Sweden and Norway. The designers asked themselves if it might be possible to capture the aesthetics of ice and how to craft in their medium of wood.

“A strong wind at the coming of winter had caused wavy patterns in several layers on one side of the puddle – almost like a delicate frill… complex and breathtakingly poetic microcosmos are a thing of great beauty. Poetry in stopped motion.”

For months they transported massive blocks of ice to their studio to watch how the physical properties changed over time. This inspired a new experimental series of sculptural furniture, their most innovative work to date.

Egeværk studied the melting process of ice under both natural and controlled conditions. They examined its unhurried dissolve during moderate spring temperatures and the summer heatwave; they also manipulated the blocks to speed up melting by placing them in running or dripping water or drilling holes straight into the ice to kickstart the thawing process. Blocks were then placed shoulder to shoulder in the workshop or on the harbour front to study and compare the differing melting rates, which were carefully catalogued in a series of photos.

The designers subsequently made of series of carved maquettes from drawings based on these photographs. Working within the perimeters and constraints of the furniture making process, they pushed existing design structures to the very limits of possibilities where sculptural form is echoed through the gentle and refined carving process. The final pieces were constructed and carved from local Danish ash, the end result of a slow and thoughtful process of making. “Both ice and wood are natural materials of the Nordic climes: frosts and shadow, where muted colours rule the kingdom. They are our nature, both subtle and monochrome; if you pay close attention, they are strikingly complex! Glacial shapes and displacements have been translated into the calm, sensual shapes of the wood. Ice layers are effortlessly mirrored in growth rings and fibres. The first frost can create a snap of rain, grass, gravel and wind in a small puddle in Sweden and cause it all to stand still for a little while. In the ICE series, time stands still a little while longer.”

ICE stool dimensions: H 42 cm W 47 cm D 25 cm. Danish ash. Year 2019.