Sometimes things happen without a plan.
This is the story of how we ended up here.
My name is Anders Arhoj, I'm the founder of Studio Arhoj - when and why this happened I am not sure. But it sure has been a ride.
After graduating with a degree in Multimedia Design in 2002 I start working at Danmarks Radio's B&U (kids division) and DR UNG (the youth television and entertainment division).
I work in graphic design, identity branding, television animation, web design and interactive gaming for web and the emerging mobile device world.
It's the beginning of a new century with digital optimism soaring - the global financial crisis has yet to hit.
But I long for new horizons...
My dream was always this: To build a house of design and production in the middle of the city...
A new adventure ensues! I quit my job and move to Tokyo, Japan. While there I study Japanese daily at a language school and work in galleries as a graphic designer in the afternoons.
It is a culture shock - in a good way - a new aesthetic world of arts, crafts and visual design unfolds before me.
The ancient ceramic traditions with rustic clay, handmade marks and naturally exposed elements are a stark contrast to the Scandinavian trend of clean white porcelain with minimalistic details. It lights a fire in me.
After my return to Denmark I do freelance work for magazines, fashion studios and run a small printed T-shirt company called Woven Flesh.
But I start growing tired of sitting in front of the computer screen in my home office 10-12 hours a day. My body aches, I want to do something physical, not just churn out drawings on a screen all day.
Through my circle of friends I'm introduced to different ceramicists with a wide range of aestetics and I begin spending time with them in their studios and work areas. I develop an insatiable appitite for literature written on the art of ceramics and bring sketches of designs and ideas to the studios and we toy with the ideas and the clay.
In early 2011 we exhibit some of our work at a design fair in Denmark and the Ghost is spotted by some buyers and orders are placed.
I start my own ceramic education to learn more about the craft by joining a communal studio in Copenhagen. I work there for a year, almost daily, trying out ideas, working on glazes and experimenting with firing techniques.
As I continue to study, experiment and learn orders continue to come in. It's either stop now or go all in.
I decide to build a small ceramic studio in my parents' garage in the countryside of Thy - more than 5 hours away from Copenhagen.
Commissioning local potters to assist in throwing Ghosts and other items, my parents pick them up once a month in their car, glazing them to my specifications and firing them in their countryside garage. While this is going on in Thy I'm speaking to stores around the worlds, taking orders, making catalogues and prototyping new products in the Copenhagen community studio.
My friend Yoko, who I met in Japan, moves back to the Bay Area in California and asks if I want to design her and her friends' new Japanese barware pop-up called Umami Mart, located in Oakland. We work on the project for 30 extremely DIY days and end up getting massive press and attention for the Shinto temple inspired design.
Designing and building the store inspires me to establish my own ceramic studio in Copenhagen; to build a physical world to work in and to visually communicate the brand and my ideas to people...
In late summer 2013 I'm handed the keys for my very first ceramic and design studio on Sturlasgade, Islands Brygge above a heavy metal rehersal space. I frequently lie awake at night worrying about how I'll make the rent.
Luckily things roll along and I find myself unable to keep up the interest on my own. Familiy volunteer to help and invest their own blood, sweat and tears, but it's not enough. I hire my first employee in 2014 to pack and organize orders and products.
The old envelope factory space above the metal guitaristas starts to become cramped. As we invest in new kilns and expand our range, we are buried in orders, prototypes, bags of raw clay and cardboard boxes with less and less space to actually work. I bring in two more sets of hands - Joe as Sales in Chief and Pia as Production Manager - and start looking around for something bigger...
Almost next door, just down the street from the Islands Brygge harbour, we locate an old office space and language school with small cubicles amd classrooms. It's worn out and dark. But we see potential - it's perfect!
We break down most walls, buy more kilns and hire more people and within a few months we've moved in and have more than doubled our space - we get to work.
A year later we take over the top floor of the same building to expand our web and wholesale stock which frees up space on the lower level, allowing us to open our first little store inside the studio.
We remain in the space for about 5 years building the brand, expanding the line with many new products. And growing a family of many talented potters, glazers and creative minds.
While our little store sees its fair share of visitors, we're still very out of the way and almost hidden in Islands Brygge. It's cozy and has its charm, but our location in the windy harbour far away is, in a way, holding us back. We want to share the experience our studio and store offers with more people, we need a new energy outside the studio that matches what we're doing on the inside.
My original dream was always this:
To build a house of design and production in the middle of the city...
We get lucky.
A beautiful old press office on a side street to the major shopping district in downtown Copenhagen is secretly available. The rent is more than double what we're paying in the current studio but we love the space. There's definitely an energy in the area that we were missing out on Islands Brygge.
Covid hits and most of the team is sent home, but we carry on the plan and eventually regroup for the big move.
On November 1st, 2020 we open our new and shiny space on Skindergade 7, saying goodbye to the harbor that has treated us so well. With the new space and location we also take the opportunity to establish a hot shop; a glass blowing studio in the same big room as the ceramic department and new, much larger, lifestyle store.
In a world of uproar and imbalance we are eternally grateful for the support of our friends around the world, still purchasing our ideas and believing in our mission, allowing us to continue to create and have fun with color, form and material.
Thank you for the fish <3
What's next, you ask?
Well, stay tuned.
It won't be boring, we promise.