Welcome to D*Hub’s ‘Loves’ column. We’ve invited design lovers to share their favourite object in the Powerhouse Museum Collection.
Trent Jansen is an award winning Australian designer.
Trent Jansen loves …
I really like Ragnar Hansen’s Tea and Coffee set because it was first shown to me by John McPhee during the first Broached Commissions project. John is an incredibly knowledgable person when it comes to Australian craft, and after a few meetings he had me pegged well enough to know that this piece would really speak to me.
I don’t know much about the design or Ragnar Hansen, beyond what John has told me, but this series of objects could only have been made by a truly complex individual. To me, they are the product of a tortured mind, a slightly jaded maker who’s connection with his emotions are expressed clearly through these objects. Like a song sung by a tortured individual, you can hear their pain in the way that they annunciate the lyrics – I can feel Ragnar Hansen’s pain through his articulation of these forms.
These objects make me feel uncomfortable, but they make me feel human. Most designed objects are nice, striving to be adored for their aesthetic resolve – their perfect balance, nicely transitioned surfaces, seamless function etc. Nothing real in life is this perfect. Ragnar Hansen’s objects are twisted and complex, just like you and I – they are real.
I am not sure if these objects are significant in the broader sense. I had never heard of this piece or Ragnar Hansen before John’s introduction, so I can assume that they are not seen to be of any great historical importance, but to me they are truly unique. The freedom of artists and musicians seems to grant them the ability to explore the depths of humanity with ease, but designers and makers of utilitarian objects are so restrained by the functionality and commerciality of their creations that the results are often void of humanity by comparison. This piece carries the emotive content of any heart breaking love song that I have ever heard.
These objects make me think of hardship, heart-break, the effect that a long, hard life can have on a person’s psyche.
If I had a Ragnar Hansen Tea and coffee set I would sell it… No, only kidding. There is only one, so far as I know, so I hope that I would be self-less enough to donate it to a museum, so that others can experience it. Although, there is a side of me that would just want to keep it to myself.