Crazy for Cathrineholm!
If you’re like I was, you may be thinking Catherine who? Cathrineholm of Norway is responsible for the simple and attractive enamelware that was a staple in households across Scandinavia and America in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Their iconic lotus pattern is their most recognizable, and a classic of mid-century modern design. Do a quick search on etsy or eBay, and you’ll find that these colorful pieces have become highly collectible, not only for their style, but also their functionality and durability.
I first became familiar with Cathrineholm a few years ago, after I noticed a happy, little bowl on a friend’s side table. When I inquired about it, the friend called it a Cathrineholm bowl. I heard “Catherine Holm,” and spent a good period of time thinking that Catherine Holm was the name of the designer. It wasn’t until much later, that I realized that Cathrineholm was actually the name of the company in Norway that manufactured the enamel bowls, dishes, and other kitchen ware until 1970.
The designer responsible for this striking collection was a woman by the name of Grete Prytz Kittelsen. Kittelsen, often referred to as the “Queen of Scandinavian Design,” was known for her beautiful work with sterling, enamel, and other metals. Her designs earned her numerous awards, as well as well-deserved attention as an inspiration and integral part of the Scandinavian Design movement.
Surprisingly, Kittlesen was not the creator of the famous lotus motif that graces her most popular pieces. As the story goes, Arne Clausen, one of the workers at Cathrineholm, came up with the pattern and it was added to Kittlesen’s designs without her approval. Reportedly, she was never a fan of it. When you look around her minimalist Norwegian home, as it was featured as a house tour in an online magazine, you can almost understand why. Likewise, when you compare Kittlesen’s own designs alongside the lotus collection, the styles are distinctly different.
Regardless, what she has left us with is an enduring collection that is as useful as it is distinctive. Keep an eye out for these colorful designs the next time you’re at a thrift store or flea market, and make sure to check the &VM webshop for current Cathrineholm. They help to make the everyday household tasks of preparing dinner and serving tea a little less mundane.