From Scandinavia With Love

Guest Blog by Mary Freer

In 1982 I turned 21. Monkey Grip was on at the movies. Bob Brown was blockading the construction of the Franklin Dam. Malcolm Fraser was blissfully unaware that his reign as Prime Minister was about to come to an end. These were heady days and I was a young woman living in an old rental share house and working in a women’s art collective. My house was full of second hand furniture and I had mastered the recipe for Apricot Chicken. Those were the days.

In the middle of all this lobs a birthday package from my older and more refined sister: a Georg Jensen pâté knife, cheese knife and cake server. I remember the simple brown and charcoal grey box. I held these items and wondered what on earth I would do with them. I feigned disapproval for expense but secretly I wished they had a place in a drawer lying alongside other sleek and beautiful cutlery.

You see, I’ve always coveted dinnerware, tableware, flatware, cutlery, crockery – call it what you will. I’ve always loved to set the table (I think they call that tablescaping now).

By the time I was in my 30s I had started in earnest to find friends for my Georg Jensen. Each celebration heralded an addition. By the time I’d reached my forties I was deep into Danish silverware, and Rorstrand crockery from Sweden.

The last decade has seen my collection grow to include Sääpäiväkirja Marimekko plates and bowls. They’re washed with the watercolours of each season and I confess I couldn’t resist the linen tablecloth to match. I struggled with whether to hang it on my wall or surrender it to wine spills and oil drips. I went with the spills and I don’t regret it. The whole point of collecting tableware is to have it on the table, animated in the unfolding drama that is a long lunch at my place.

Ten years ago I lugged home from Paris a suitcase weighed down by the most beautiful dinnerware by Kazuhiko Tomita, a Japanese designer who just happened to be visiting the store while I was browsing. Last year I visited the Georg Jensen ‘mothership’ in Denmark and found a cheese knife so perfect I wanted to skip down København K. I’m a tragic dinnerware lover.

I love nothing more than preparing food for my friends, bringing them together around a 1960s table and watching them bring my collection to life. Food brings us together and a beautiful table setting is my way of celebrating friendship with the people I love. Smaklig maltid!

Mary Freer is a Social Change Maker with her own social innovation company: Freerthinking. After years of working very hard to climb the corporate ladder only to find that no-one else on the executive team wore red lipstick, Mary created a way of working that allowed her to collect colourful dinner plates, create serious good in the world and be creative. She recently launched the Compassion Lab – a way to help people learn how to be more compassionate and empathic. In summer you’ll find Mary at Port Willunga collecting love heart shaped rocks on the beach and in winter she will be rugged up in woollies stomping around paddocks with her Lumix hanging around her neck as she tries to capture small birds on film.


Georg Jensen

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