MUSEUM dialogue

The Andersen Design Museum of American Designer Craftsmen Concept is a work in progress. To move forward with the

501(3)(C) application, we need three board members, who will serve in the capacity of President, Secretary, and Treasurer. A board member can serve in more than one position. The minimum number of board members needed to apply for 501(3)(C) status is three.

It is intended that the Museum can act as a fiscal sponsor favoring those not represented by the State and federal government’s “targeted sector”, which is primarily a grassroots entrepreneurial class. A designer-craftsman is anyone who designs and produces a product themselves, but since the high tech industries are over-represented in the government sector, the Museum will give priority to traditional crafts and technology but also recognizing that traditional and new tech can interact.

Below is a questionnaire from a legal source and the answers that I gave. It is hoped to expand the purpose of the 501(3)(C) to include affordable housing and economic development by supporting businesses in or attached to the home but that language has not yet been incorporated.

Start of the Questions and Answers Section:

What is the overall goal of this entire endeavor? What’s the 30,000 ft. view?

The museum will serve an educational, economic development and, social-community function for artists-designers and hand-making artisans, and supporters. It will feature regular shows and displays, including but not exclusive to the historical work of the founding company Andersen Design.

Underlying the making process of Andersen ceramics is a philosophy of life and work favoring smaller workspaces and furthering individuality within a production process. The essential idea in running production as an art form is that both the production process and the creative process feed one another. The production process requires and develops discipline that advances craftsmanship, and depending on the proclivities of the individual artisan, works as a complementary counterpoint to the creation of individual one-of-a-kind works.

Separate but Complementary

The museum as an institution is separate from Andersen Design and the production network that Andersen Design will develop to produce its current line and to generate new designs.

The museum serves as a social focal point for interaction within a designer craftsmen community that is inclusive but not exclusive to a working slip-casting network. The wider focus is hand-made designer craftsmen of any discipline. The museum is needed to attract artisans to the project by providing tools for financing individual studios, which are conceived as individually owned in a decentralized but interrelated common network of slip-casters and artisans.

The Museum will function as a center, inspired by the churches of the early Middle Ages that became a focal point where fairs gathered where makers sold their products. The original earliest crafts guilds functioned as brotherhoods. Like a church, a museum is a spiritual center wherein spiritual values are expressed through work, encouraging a work ethic and beauty in design, values inherent to the work process above and beyond monetary rewards.

The advantage that Andersen Design brings to a slip-casting network.

The advantage that Andersen Design brings to the network is its large line of market-proven and classic designs that have never saturated the market due to the small size of the Andersen production. The brand has always featured individuality even within the production process which accounts for the line’s ability to endure as a viable asset for supporting future production studios, by establishing a basis for a reliable stream of income.

Andersen Design’s identity as a marketing brand with philosophy and products expressive of that philosophy includes a long history of taking an independent course, off the beaten path of the mainstream. The history of Andersen Design establishes an immutable provenance that is invaluable in establishing a higher-profile internet sales channel.

The advantage the network delivers to Andersen Design

The advantage that the slip-casting network delivers to Andersen Design is the opportunity to have the Andersen line continue as an American-made handcrafted product. Made in America is an essential element of the philosophy of the Andersen Design brand. The Andersen Design philosophy values the making process in its own right, aside from pecuniary benefits, and holds that worker engagement in the hand-making process benefits communities everywhere, including communities in the developed world.

It is a challenging idea to attempt a network that is not centrally controlled in the traditional corporate style. Decentralization will require well-crafted contractual agreements to work well, but the contractual network can be worked out at a later phase.

To attract worker-owners to the concept of engaging in a slip-casting network, there needs to be a means for financing studios. This is an important role that the museum will perform through fiscal sponsorship.

The first problem to solve is to set up the structure to enable the funding of a slip-casting network. If the structure is in place, the recognition that Andersen Design has in the designer craftsmen field may be leveraged as an asset in funding opportunities for independent studios.

The first step is to create a non-profit museum so that non-profit funding can be used to finance museum facilities and a managing team.

In the beginning, Andersen Design will be active in the museum as it develops its managing team. Once a managing team is in place, Andersen Design will continue to have a consulting role with the museum but will shift its primary focus to Andersen Design, the research design and production enterprise.

The museum is a separate entity and is the only part of the network considered as a non-profit organization. All studios in the network make their own choice, so it is not ruled out that a production studio may prefer to be structured as a non-profit entity, but it is Andersen Design’s preference to remain a free enterprise.

One of the philosophical influences of Andersen Design is Lewis Mumford who gives this apt description of how a decentralized organization works:

The dynamics of social change require an actual situation in time: a series of processes that can be hastened or retarded, energized or depleted: groups of people interacting with their place and their form of work, with other groups, with their social heritage: and a collective framework of interests and goals which, while slowly changing themselves, serve to concentrate and direct the intermediate social process” Lewis Mumford The Culture of the Cities


Andersen Design was chartered as an S Corporation in 1952 and gained recognition in the field of designer craftsmen for its unique contribution to ceramic art and design. From the beginning, Andersen Design created its own ceramic body, glazes, and decorating colors from raw materials, mainly sourced in the United States.

Andersen Design would like to set up a permanent glaze and material studio which will continue to develop new bodies and finishes as well as prepare the glazes and decorating colors that can be used throughout the network. As one of mankind’s oldest technologies, the science of ceramic-making continues to evolve and finds uses in many industries. A product such as a mug can be enhanced by developing a body of superior strength combined with visual delicacy. Such qualities can have other industrial uses.

Glaze and body research also requires a small production studio since forms must be cast to test bodies and glazes. It would be practical to combine the research studio with a training center for producing the Andersen Design line. The Museum might fiscally sponsor training in the making of Andersen Design products, provided the non-profit purpose is properly formulated. The research and training studios can be combined with a small creative design and production studio.

Since Andersen Design retains ownership of its intellectual property rights, the research facility should remain the private property of the company, separate from the non-profit museum.

Terms establishing ownership of intellectual property rights will be needed throughout the network but it is a separate and later project from formulating the non-profit museum as a fiscal sponsoring institution.

Museum as a fiscal sponsor as part of its economic development mission

It is hoped that fiscal sponsorship can be used to make the financing of small production studios possible by granting small crafts persons a qualified status for applying for grants from foundations and other non-profit funding. The fiscal sponsorship function can be extended to any type of hand-crafting studio, including but not exclusive to studios in the Andersen Design network. However, if it is possible to grant special status to studios that enter into contractual agreements with Andersen Design without violating any laws or ethical standards, that would be helpful.

Economic development will be one of the non-profit purposes of the Museum, enabling the Museum to award grants along the lines that the Maine Technology Institute is authorized by its 501 (3)© status to give grants for economic development purposes, except that the Andersen Design Museum will favor economic development in the handcrafted artist and designer field.

  • 15302. Maine Technology Institute
  1. Establishment. The Maine Technology Institute, as established in section 12004‑G, subsection 33‑D, is a nonprofit corporation with public and charitable purposes. The duties, activities, and operations of the institute are within the provisions of the federal Internal Revenue Code, Section 501(c)(3).
[PL 1999, c. 401, Pt. AAA, §3 (NEW).]
  1. Purpose. The institute, through a public and private partnership, shall encourage, promote, stimulate and support research and development activity leading to the commercialization of new products and services in the State’s technology-intensive industrial sectors to enhance the competitive position of those sectors and increase the likelihood that one or more of the sectors will support clusters of industrial activity and to create new jobs for Maine people. The institute is one element of the State’s economic development strategy and will contribute to the long-term development of a statewide research, development, and product deployment infrastructure.


You mentioned your family’s intellectual property, the slip casts. Would the independent ceramicists in the Andersen Design Museum network be using those casts, creating their own original works, or a combination of both?

The Individual studios are conceived as being independently owned allowing each to define its own parameters. The idea is to set up working relationships as independent contractors with studios that are interested in producing the line, but each studio would self-determine if it wants to design its own pieces as well. As independent contractors, they can choose to develop making contracts with other entities depending on how the terms of the individual relationships are defined in a contract. If a studio is interested in designing their own work in addition to producing ours, and what they do is consistent with Andersen Design’s market, the Andersen Design brand can be used as a venue to market work created by independent studios. Studios that produce the Andersen Design line should be offered preferential treatment when they are marketed by the Andersen Design brand.

Conceptually, some work by studio artisans could be marketed under the Andersen Design name, whereas another artisan might be interested in marketing under their own name. These are details to be worked out as one develops working relationships.

Getting more into tactics, who do you envision as the parties of the fiscal sponsorship arrangement? Would Andersen Design Museum sponsor Andersen Design, Inc.? Or would Andersen Design Museum sponsor each independent ceramicist?

I would like the Museum to be able to sponsor Andersen Design Inc by way of making fiscal sponsorship available to designer craftsmen in general. However, since the starting point of this concept was the need for an American -made production capacity for Andersen Design, it would be nice to be able to provide an incentive to those producing the Andersen line.

Since Andersen Design will remain a free enterprise, it will not itself be a grant provider, short of becoming so successful that we start our own foundation, or in the model of the pre-Amazon Wholefoods, provide favorable terms on loans for start-up studios. (this may have survived the Amazon buyout- I haven’t researched that)

However, it may be possible for Andersen Design to develop a program that facilitates the individual studio in applying for a grant on its own through working with our line.

Once a structure for fiscal sponsorship is in place the relationships can be developed one at a time, developing new studio relationships as the need arises. Each studio may want to work out unique terms of its own. One studio may be only interested in operating a production, while another may be interested in developing their own designs.

Written by Susan Mackenzie Andersen on  March 31, 2021