K.H. Würtz, father and son team of studio ceramists
Published on November 13, 2015
Aage and Kasper Würtz are an internationally sought-after father and son team of studio ceramists. While their location is Horsens, Denmark, a provincial town on the Jutland mainland, they are becoming known far and wide for their hand-thrown, hand-glazed designs — most notably the crockery they produce for a growing number of New Nordic and other contemporary gourmet restaurants around the world — from Noma and Amass in Copenhagen to Törst and Luksus in Brooklyn.
Produced under the K.H. Würtz trademark, Würtz ceramics — typically made of stoneware, occasionally of porcelain — possess a leading-edge 21st century aesthetic, yet each piece is created completely by hand, using mostly ancient wheel-turning and glazing methods.
Würtz tableware, in particular, exhibits certain signature characteristics, such as an assured inner-outer ratio, a subtle concavity even in the flattest dinner plates, unexpected rims, moody colorations, random flecked and mottled surface effects, and a robust heft that makes each piece a delight to hold in the hand.
All in all, the Würtz style is simultaneously contemporary in design and archaic in the crafting. It’s been described as timeless but is also future-oriented in the way it supersedes both heavily floral traditional fine china dinner sets and early 21st century minimalist white faience.
Aage Würtz is a seasoned studio ceramist whose career and decades of devotion to artisanal excellence were inspired both by Scandinavia’s centuries’-old utilitarian crafts traditions, and in his own time by Bernard Leach, the father of 20th century British studio pottery, which had a global impact.
When Aage Würtz came of age in the 1970s, Leach’s midcentury studio pottery movement was still in full swing as a welcome handmade alternative to mass-production. Aage’s first job was as an apprentice at one of many Jutland potteries producing ceramic lamps. He went on to found his own tableware workshop in the early ‘80s. But by the end of that decade, a new aesthetic had emerged, favoring minimalist, clinical white porcelain. That prompted Würtz to take a hiatus, teaching social studies. By the early ‘90s, he sensed a shift back to an organic ceramic style. So, joined by his son Kasper, he opened a small studio workshop and returned to the wheel. Om 2004, Restaurant Noma discovered Würtz tableware, which has since become part of that restaurant’s signature style and opened the door to numerous other commissions, both with gourmet restaurants around the world and for use at home.
Kasper Würtz who had been studying Danish literature at Aarhus University, left academics to join his father’s studio ceramics workshop at the start of the new millennium. The younger Würtz, who turns out to be an innately skilled ceramist in his own right, learnt the specifics of throwing and firing first-hand on the job. He has also advanced, enhanced, and updated the multi-faceted glazing process.
Becoming an expert at pigment-mixing and dipping, often adding extra elements such as crystals and iron filings tossed or applied with a sponge or spray gun, Kasper imparts both the subtle and mellow colorations and speckled textures that contemporary Würtz ceramics are known for. What’s more, he serves as the K.H. Würtz liaison for collaborations with chefs and restauranteurs on developing ad hoc custom-designed tableware for unique new dishes.
As the company’s business head and creative and development strategist, he also devises marketing and merchandising programs that will enable expansion without any sacrifice of quality or attention to detail.