Terrain af Mariko Wada, fotograf Ole Akhøj. Udsnit

Setting an atmosphere

Atmosphere as an aesthetic concept is based on the notion of a spatial mood or ambience created by means of materials, light and form. It affects our senses and enables attachment and memories. A material may have unique properties that give it inherent atmospheric qualities. For example, glass has the capacity to transmit and refract light and thus introduces an ethereal or even sublime atmosphere. Using approaches from crafts and art, a maker can modify the public space and influence our movements, sensations and interactions.

In a look at how makers and designers contribute to the public space, the present theme offers reflections from practitioners, advisors and representatives from research and education.

Anna Rikkinen, project manager in the Finnish organization Ornamo, has investigated the role and value of crafts in construction in a study that ran from 2018 to 2021. Among other findings, this extensive study, which was funded by the European Social Fund, identifies makers’ unique working methods, artistic practice and understanding of material properties as a strong basis for creating high-quality, aesthetic and durable buildings in a world that calls for a new environmental and human awareness.

Denmark also has many good examples of decorative projects, user-involving installations and building-integrated art created by practitioners with a crafts and design background. Craft maker and textile designer Astrid Krogh has worked with art and installations in the public space for many years. In an interview in this issue, she explains how she draws on her background as a weaver and textile designer to create works of art connecting us to something bigger than ourselves.

In the town of Nye outside the city of Aarhus, Tækker Group is in charge of a property development project aiming to create alternative approaches to community, communal spaces and interstices. Working within this span, ceramicist Mariko Wada has developed a site-specific work of art: an outdoor ceiling titled Terrain.

Design schools play a key role in preparing makers and designers to work on a big scale, develop forms and rethink the workings of the public space. Glass designer Maria Sparre-Petersen, PhD, recently received the National Education Award from the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science along with Flemming Tvede Hansen, PhD, for the course module ‘Experiment, Material and Technology’ at the at the Royal Danish Academy, Institute for Architecture and Design. Journalist Pernille Anker Kristensen visits Maria Sparre-Petersen to discuss the potential of makers and designers stepping out into the public space to create decorative projects, installations and building-integrated art.

Throughout history, crafts have played an important role in public art and decoration, and a browse through Formkraft’s archive turns up numerous articles on crafts in the public space. In 1988, the magazine Dansk Kunsthåndværk (Danish Crafts), as it was then called, dedicated an entire year to this theme. Nevertheless, the current decision-making structure still results in a fundamental disparity in the political and economic conditions for makers, designers and artists. This underscores the continued need to highlight the qualities and competencies makers and designers bring to the table to ensure that they are not overlooked by advisors, arts councils, building clients and architects.

In 2023, Copenhagen is the World Capital of Architecture. In the lead-up to this event, Formkraft will examine the role of crafts and design in the public space: how can makers and designers contribute to architecture? What barriers, actors and stakeholders are at play? How are successful decorative projects, installations or building-integrated art created? Can we point to a historical development that explains the current state of affairs?


The topic will be explored in a series of theme issues in 2021–2023.

This theme issue is the first on the topic, with articles to be released intermittently from October to December under the title ‘Atmosphere: Crafts and design in the public space’. 


Anna Rikinnen: Crafts in Construction: How crafts can contribute to public spaces


Photo credit: Terrain by Mariko Wada, 2021. Photo: Ole Akhøj

The Danish state

Kunstcirkulæret (The Art Circular) – the political foundation

This Danish government circular of 19 May 1971 deals with construction undertaken by the state. It specifies that the budget for state construction projects must include an amount dedicated to integrated art, corresponding to 1.5 per cent of the budget for labour costs, excl. of VAT.

Source: Retsinformation


Danish Arts Foundation

The Danish Arts Foundation promotes art in the public space. Its funds span all art forms and genres, but applications can only be submitted by municipalities, state, regional and municipal institutions, and institutions and associations that engage with the public or which have public access. The Committee for Visual Arts Project Funding reviews the applications.



Source: Danish Arts Foundation


In 2018, the Danish Arts Foundation’s Committee for Visual Arts Project Funding appointed 10 consultants on art in the public space. The consultants serve for a four-year period in a collaboration between the Danish Arts Foundation, the Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces, the Danish Building and Properties Agency and the Estate Agency of the Danish Ministry of Defence.

Source: Kunsten Nu

Danish municipalities

The Danish Arts Foundation’s Committee for Visual Arts Project Funding aims to promote visual art in Denmark by encouraging Danish municipalities to make use of professional art consultancy in contexts where municipalities work with visual art. To that end, the committee provides funding if a municipality – or two or more municipalities acting together – establishes a municipal visual arts council where at least half of the members have professional artistic qualifications.

In this particular context, professional qualifications are defined as a degree (BA + MA) from either the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, the Funen Art Academy or the Jutland Art Academy or an equivalent degree from an art academy abroad. Note that craft makers are not viewed on par with visual artists in relation to this fund.

Source: Danish Arts Foundation

Examples of municipal visual arts councils

In 2019, the City of Copenhagen’s Visual Arts Committee was replaced by the Council for Visual Arts, which has a broader mandate than the former Visual Arts Committee, although the funding process for visual arts projects remains unchanged. The Council for Visual Arts supports high-quality art projects and purchases art. Purchased art is hung in municipal institutions and offices.

In Aarhus the municipality has a one per cent rule in connection with decorative projects in municipal buildings. The visual arts council provides advice and makes purchases, among other tasks.