The Column and Chimney Vase Collection Seeks a Home

Fifteen Colimn Vases and half a dozen Chimney Vases tell a story of innovative industrial design

I have a group of 15 column Vases and so I posted this on social media

I have a large collection of vintage Andersen Design Column Vases, each one decorated uniquely showing the innovative approach that Andersen Design took to finishing slip vast production ceramics. I would like to do something with these vases as a group. I just don’t know what, yet, so I am putting this message in a social media post and letting it float until it lands ashore. . Looking for collaborators!

I was thinking the vases should be displayed in a space altogether and hoping to connect with collaborators in marketing and historical representation, but I also need to generate some income now so when someone asked the price for these two pieces, I decided to place them in my Art Storefront.

Column Vase in Brown Tre by Brenda
Column Vase in Abstract Design by Mackenzie

Pricing is a curious affair that I have come to understand in my relationships with institutions. I have had enough encounters to gain insight into why Andersen Design’s philosophy of creating a handmade product affordable to the middle classes has more of an effect on large institutions than I could imagine.

One such institution, Wikipedia, refuses to include Andersen Design in its midcentury industrial design category: What could be the reason Andersen Design does not qualify in the category of its own time (established in 1952), filled with my parent’s colleagues (Eva Zeisel and Russel Wright) stores in which Andersen Design was sold (George Jensen), special emphasis on Scandanavia Design (Andersen is Danish and Andersen Design was sold in a Danish department store) and other ceramic slipcasting companies with less extensive lines than Andersen Design that started in the same era as Andersen Design (midcentury)?.

Industrial design (Wikipedia)

Scandinavian design was very influential at this time, with a style characterized by simplicity, democratic design and natural shapes. Glassware (Iittala — Finland), ceramics (Arabia — Finland), tableware (Georg Jensen — Denmark), lighting (Poul Henningsen — Denmark), and furniture (Danish modern) were some of the genres for the products created.

In the United States, east of the Mississippi, the American-born Russel Wright and Mary Wright, designing for Steubenville Pottery, and Hungarian-born Eva Zeisel designing for Red Wing Pottery and later Hall China created free-flowing ceramic designs that were much admired and heralded in the trend of smooth, flowing contours in dinnerware.

On the West Coast of the United States, the industrial designer and potter Edith Heath (1911–2005) founded Heath Ceramics in 1948. The company was one of the numerous California pottery manufacturers that had their heyday in post-war United States, and produced Mid-Century modern ceramic dish-ware.

Edith Heath’s “Coupe” line remains in demand and has been in constant production since 1948, with only periodic changes to the texture and color of the glazes.[21]

The Tamac Pottery company produced a line of mid-century modern biomorphic dinnerware and housewares between 1946 and 1972.[22]

A key to why Wikipedia will not accept Andersen Design as a midcentury design company of significance is Wikipedia’s explanation for what would gain acceptance- an article about Andersen Design published in an academic venue. I submitted The Collector’s Eye: Decorating With the Objects You Love Hardcover — April 1, 2002 by Christine Churchill in which Andersen Design is featured to an even greater degree than others more famous, but a book is not acceptable to Wikipedia, it must be published in academia. Andersen Design has been written about many times but not, to my knowledge in an academic journal.

The policy as told to me is not only diametrical to Andersen Design’s founding philosophy of creating a handmade product affordable to the middle class, but likewise to Wikipedia’s stated policy:

Anyone can edit Wikipedia’s text, references, and images. What is written is more important than who writes it. The content must conform with Wikipedia’s policies, including being verifiable by published sources. Editors’ opinions, beliefs, personal experiences, unreviewed research, libelous material, and copyright violations will not remain. Wikipedia’s software allows easy reversal of errors, and experienced editors watch and patrol bad edits. source

What is going on? Why does Wikipedia target Andersen Design for exclusion, especially given its own open-source philosophy? I think it is for all the reasons that Andersen Design is different from most of those that made the grade:

Andersen Design didn’t just design for industry, it created its own industry and reinvented the terms of production

Industrial Design, Now and Then: The Andersen Design Journey by Mackenzie Andersen

Reinventing the online platform as an interactive B to B experience!

Read on Substack

The Andersens stopped entering competitions and instead developed their own following through the marketplace, choosing to sell to the middle class rather than the elite.

Andersen Design made everything from raw materials and created their own ceramic bodies, glazes, and decorating colors.

In addition to functional design, Andersen Design also created a line of wildlife sculptures.

And most importantly Andersen Dessign reinvented the production process as an individualistic craft-making process, reintegrating the pre-industrial revolution cottage industry form of production in a way that is becoming even more relevant in the twenty-first century, as the corporate promises made to the workers are broken and workers seek new lifestyles and independence.

The last reason is the most important reason for placing Andersen Design in its historical context where it properly belongs. Andersen Design was a midcentury outsider company, in a class by itself. That identifies an innovator and what Andersen Design innovated in industrial design needs to be properly articulated and understood.

Abstract in Ebony on Red Body by Mackenzie Modulus Volum Vase in White by Weston

What it all boils down to is Andersen Design did its own thing with their own permission. Now Wikipedia is trying to tell us we cannot be classified under the category of midcentury design, or at least not be considered significant enough to be recognized in their encyclopedia unless an outside academic authority authorizes it.

But Andersen Design does not need Wikepedia’s authorization to qualify as an industrial design company of significance. What was great about midcentury was that there was a large middle class. The middle class were the deciders. Andersen Design has collectors all over the world. The collectors handed down their collections from generation to generation. Most of the collectors were of the middle class, now gone, but the collections live on. Wikipedia misses the significance of the middle class to midcentury design. Midcentury was the era when designers were designing quality and innovative design for a widespread middle class. It was not pretentious. They people didn’t need experts to tell them what they liked and that was reflected in the simple clean lines associated with midcentury design. It has an enduring appeal

The common everyday people recognized Andersen Designs products as art. That has cultural and political significance that seems to irk institutions in this age of hierarchies and caste systems. We should all be made to bow down. No one can be self-determined. That is the message. I don’t know why Wikipedia is the messenger. What has got into them? Can they not look at a product and identify that it is a midcentury design on its own merits? Does Wikipedia need an outside authority to validate its opinions? The Wikipedia article on midcentury design defines the field by the most conventional idea of industrial design. Andersen Design reinvented industrial design, Andersen Design was unconventional and successful, recognized and collected by many.

It is important to articulate the cultural production reinvention that was part of Andersen Design’s mission, not only as past history but as living and evolving history that can have significance in the here and now.


This collection of Column and Chimney bases tells a story of what Andersen Design production (making process) was about, as well as the potential for the future.

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If you have an interest related to the vase collections drop me an email or leave a comment!


About Susan Mackenzie Andersen

I was blessed with being raised in this amazing business in a home that uses ceramic slip-cast production as an art form. My mission is to set this business up so that others can enjoy the same lifestyle while benefitting from what Andersen Design created. Follow me on my substack blog, Mackenzie Andersen's The Individual vs The Empire! I write about the public-private-non-profit-profit wealth concentration and redistribution industrial complex - and then I dream a better world.

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