‘Are you from the industry? I don’t work for industry anymore.’ Such was the response of octogenarian Paris-based ceramic artist Alev Siesbye to the founders of Danish design brand Raawii – Bo Raahauge and Nicholai Wiig Hansen – when they approached her about a collaboration.

The pair, who founded their brand in 2017, regarded Alev Siesbye as an icon. ‘We had this idea that we shared the same DNA in our approach to design,’ says Wiig Hansen. That turned out to be truer than they could imagine: when they finally met (after some persuasion from the duo) at Siesbye’s Paris atelier, she showed them photographs from her time in Skagen, northern Denmark, an artist hub in the 1960s. Several were taken at Wiig Hansen’s family home (his parents being Danish artist Svend Wiig Hansen and ceramist Leila Sallyman). Siesbye had been a ceramicist at the Royal Copenhagen factory, creating stoneware and porcelain pieces, while experimenting in her studio. She moved to Paris in the 1980s, and developed a signature style that mixes precision, simplicity and vibrant colour.

Vase (top), cups and ’Bon’ box from the Alev collection

Within minutes of Raahauge and Wiig Hansen’s arrival, Siesbye started sketching. ‘They convinced me by their eagerness for quality, their enthusiasm and their energy,’ she says. And so began Raawii’s new collection. Titled Alev, it features cups, vases, bonbonnières and bowls in a palette of blue, green, pink and grey. ‘Colours are very important to me,’ says the artist. ‘It is often the shape that decides the colour, or the opposite.

When shown together, the collection has to be harmonious, like a musical phrase.’ She visited Raawii’s factory in Portugal and spent a week working closely with the almost all-female team to perfect shapes and colours. Working alongside makers, she notes, has always been a source of joy. Adds Raahauge: ‘It became almost symbiotic, everybody played a vital role, and Alev’s positive vibes and creativity were at the centre of it all.’ §