On a winter’s day in Jægersborggade in Copenhagen, Relae restaurant provided welcome respite – a hygge hideaway from the swirling flakes speckling the early dusk sky. After a particularly warming lunch of eggplant, caramelised buttermilk and sesame seeds with elastic-y sourdough bread, I take a stroll to work off the impromptu four-course tasting lunch. In a window a few doors down I see a woman hard at work, putting the finishing touches to a delicate white jug. Candles flicker in the shop (first picture) and stacks of shiny, ridged or curved porcelain are too inviting to miss.
I walk in, hugging my bag close, terrified of my natural clumsiness; these pieces are paper thin and look like they might break in an instant. The owner, Inge Vincents (third picture), assures me, however, that they are surprisingly robust. I see a familiar piece – a tealight holder (from DKr225, about £26, second picture) that had graced my table at lunchtime. Vincents, it turns out, plays a small part in the seemingly unstoppable Danish food revolution – she makes pieces for lauded restaurants Geranium and Manfreds as well as for Relae. You can see why: the shapes are warm and inviting to touch, with the curves of the cups a satisfying fit for hands. The ceramicist tells me that her work revolves around the endless variations of the “thinware” technique – the normal slab method taken to paper-thin limits – and she has spent years perfecting the craft. “There’s so much demand for the existing styles that I rarely make groundbreaking new inventions,” she says, as I pick up a milk jug (about £37.70), ridged from base to lip, with a stubby, cylindrical shape. I also spy a rippled tulip vase (about £98.50), crooked and shiny inside. This is a “baggy vase” Vincents tells me. I take both.
Vincents trained under the renowned ceramicist Christian Bruun and has been based in Jægersborggade for seven years. The street has become something of a destination; there are unctuous pastries from Meyer bakery, handmade chocolates from Ro, and bio-organic vodka from Den Sidste Dråbe. An hour’s preamble down this road is a dangerous exercise it turns out – for my baggage allowance and my bank balance.
Back home, I use the milk jug immediately to serve tea alongside a new white teapot, kept warm with a tea cosy from Kyrgyzstan that I picked up on my travels last year, while I arrange the cobalt-blue stems of the first hyacinths in my vase. I may not be able to recreate the particular hygge I love in Denmark – try as I might the lighting is too harsh or moody – but with the elegant white skew-whiff column of paper-thin pottery against a slowly fading sky, I have a little corner that is undeniably Copenhagen.