Friday, May 2, 2014

KMK pottery - my love for Kupfermuehle Keramik

First, I love to live in Berlin. It's green and full of flowers and pretty smells, at least here where I live, which is not the Center of the City. Since I'm doing my work outside whenever it is possible I'm always waiting impatiently for spring - and now it is here. Have a look at my pretty studio in this season, please:

But I wasn't always a 'Berlinerin', I was born in Schleswig-Holstein, the land between the Baltic and the North Sea, and that's where I moved into my first own flat, sometime in the 1980's, with my partner - and that's were I became aquainted with KMK ceramics.
When we first met our new neighbours in this new house, we instantly became friends. It was a young couple with the cutest two little boys I ever saw. They were only a few years older than we were, but to us, they seemed to be so wise and settled - they were married with children, and we had just left school. One day, the young mother from vis-à-vis took me on a drive to a village, a few kilometers from our home, called Hohenlockstedt - and to a ceramic manufactury. This was Kupfermuehle Keramik - short KMK. And I instantly got hooked. I'm not sure how many of these beauties I gave as presents in the following years, but the plates and bowls I bought for myself are still on my walls and in my cupboards. After all these years and countless movings, they still are in my kitchen (have a look at the sill above the window):
 and on the cupboard:

All these items are from the early 80's, and Kupfermuehle Keramik reflects perfectly the lifestyle of this era. I think it was from the later 70's on when the back-to-country thing became fashionable in every household. Knitting and Spinning, bakeware made from pottery, dried flowers and herbs, homemade cakes and breads - all this was popular. See the colors: they are warm and dark, handpainted ornaments on simple, plain forms. A bit folk style, a bit cottage style. Timeless and beautiful.
The story of Kupfermuehle Keramik is short and a bit sad. The manufactury was founded after World War II in the middle of Schleswig-Holstein. There wasn't much industry, the whole area had lived from farming, shipbuilding and fishing for hundreds of years. After the war, times changed very fast, and a manufactury like this met the contemporary taste and offered jobs for many people. KMK grew fast until the later 1980's - but then by and by, everything changed. Not only the taste and the fondness for this folk styled, handmade things. More and more jobs were relocated to foreign countries, were wages were lower. I think that's one of the reasons why so many smaller manufacturies disappeared in these years: Outsourcing was only profitable for the bigger companies, and they did it and managed to survive until today. The smaller ones with their handmade and handpainted art couldn't keep pace regarding the costs. They closed down, one after the other.
KMK closed its doors in 1997. The manufactury doesn't exist anymore. But the beautiful pottery still does:



  1. i found a piece of this pottery yesterday at a thrift shop in berkeley, california. i really like it alot. i love your description of the period. we had a similar era in the 70s - moving to the country, growing food, herbs, making tinctures, and setting up 'shoppe' [sic]. here's pics of the piece i found: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk4iLBsi

    1. Hi Pete - nice to hear from another vintage lover from beautiful California! I think the 80's were very special - a pre-virtual era, so very far away from our life now ... I had a look at your site, beautiful photos!