Maria Foerlev: “A dialogue across the disciplines of art and design”

February 12th, 2020
Written by:
Nikolai Kotlarczyk

Maria Foerlev, owner and founder of Etage Projects. Photo courtesy of Etage Projects.

Maria Foerlev is one of the three members in the new Curator Advisory Board for The Mindcraft Project 2020.

You will find Foerlev leading a new movement in Danish design. Providing a platform for contemporary Danish artists and designers, her Copenhagen gallery Etage Projects also gathers the best of international design in the Danish capital. This is just one reason why Maria Foerlev is such a prominent figure within Danish design and contemporary culture today.

Located just a short walk from the iconic Nyhavn and the historic streets of Copenhagen’s centre, Etage Projects stands out from the numerous iconic mid-century pieces that can be seen in many a shopfront window. The gallery acts as a personal passion project for Foerlev with an aim to add another level of interaction between the audience and the objects on display.

Etage Projects at CHART Design 2019. Photo by David Stjernholm, courtesy of Etage Projects.

“Etage Projects represents a dialogue across the disciplines of art and design, my job being that of the mediator within these negotiations. I work with artists who create functional pieces and designers who work conceptually; their work relies on an engaging experience you cannot get as a passive viewer”, says Maria Foerlev.

This unique approach to curation and exhibition has allowed Foerlev and Etage Projects to step into a number of diverse creative fields. The gallery’s current exhibition Wearables was produced in conjunction with Copenhagen Fashion Week, tasking her diverse group of represented designers to create functional clothing and accessories with a conceptual approach. Further afield the gallery can be regularly spotted at international fairs from Design Miami to Nomad and many more. Foerlev transfers the interactive focus of her Copenhagen space into these international displays – known for their ambitious use of colour and material to transport visitors into the world of the artists and designers on show.

Etage Projects at Nomad St Moritz 2020. Photo by Filippo Bamberghi, courtesy of Etage Projects.

The diversity of the artists and designers represented by Etage Projects is a testament to the open nature of Foerlev. Never afraid to take risks, eclectic practitioners such as FOS and Guillermo Santomà can be seen alongside more archetypal forms from the likes of Sabine Marcelis and MBADV (Maria Bruun & Anne Dorthe Vester). What brings these artists together is a shared expression of meaning through form, as explained by Foerlev:

“What interests me is how aesthetics affect us, and how ideas are translated into aesthetics… an objects emotional resonance ascribes its value…”

Soap Series by Sabine Marcelis. Installation shot, Etage Projects at Nomad Monaco 2018. Photo courtesy of Etage Projects.

Moving forward Foerlev will continue to utilise Etage Projects as a platform to show work that resonates with her own aesthetic and artistic preferences, whilst firmly providing an alternative to the recognisable Danish design aesthetic that balances form and function, as she states:

“Since the 1950’s Golden Age of Danish design, an object’s beauty has been tied fastidiously to its functionality. In this landscape, Etage Projects is a welcome escape into the strange. By focusing on the less rational aspects and specialising in a cross-aesthetic method, I hope to extend and contribute to the field of interdisciplinary design and collective culture.”

‘Arcana’, solo exhibition by Karl Monies at Etage Projects, 2020. Photo courtesy of Etage Projects.

Consistently unearthing the next generation of artists and designers, Etage Projects continues to push the boundaries of what Danish design means today. Foerlev has brought international design to Copenhagen, while at the same time transporting the work of some of our “strange” locals onto the world stage.