Do you see that picture at the top of this post? Those are not dishes. Those 2 pieces are enameled cast iron. In perfect condition to be sure, but a lot heavier and sturdier than they look. I found these pieces in almost unused condition. They sold in my shop the first day I listed them. They are what is known as Danish Modern or Mid-Century Modern design.
These 2 casserole dishes were actually made by a company called COPCO and were designed by a specific designer by the name of Michael Lax. After I found the pieces I did some research on this designer and this is what I found out.
According to the New York Times, Michael Lax was an innovative designer who brought a “Scandinavian flair to American products” and shaped the look of the 1960s.
Born in 1929 in New York, he graduated in 1947 from the New York School of Music and Art. In 1951 he graduated from Alfred University in New York where he sharpened his ceramic technique.
Collector’s Weekly says that in 1954 he won a Fulbright Fellowship to Finland where he studied with architect Alvar Aalto who was all about clean, organic modernist design. Finishing his studies with Russell Wright back in New York whose ideas leaned towards functional and simple needs-based designs, he began his own career.
Collector’s Weekly goes on further to say that he made two very iconic 1960s pieces; a brightly-colored enamel-coated tea kettle with a teak handle and a telescoping cube-shaped desk light.
He was a sculptor at heart and took his designs in that direction. He created brand new looks for the 1960s American kitchen.
He went to work at COPCO in the early 1960s. When a friend of his that he had met taking his daughter to preschool, said he was starting a new company called COPCO he asked Michael to join him. It was at COPCO that he developed a line of enameled cast iron and porcelain enamel cookware.
Although enameling cast iron had been done since the 1920s, as stated here, what he did with it was that he took utilitarian pieces and created them in cheery, fun colors, bringing them into the mod 60s.
Along with cookware, he designed for other companies, too. Mikasa, Rosenthal and Tupperware were companies that utilized his skill as a designer. His designs were clean and vibrant which was what the Danish Modern look was all about.
Danish Modern is described as clean, pure lines that are ergonomic for the human body. It is a classic look that does not rely on ornamentation for its beauty. The beauty of Danish Modern is in the minimalist lines.
Michael Lax certainly was able to incorporate the aesthetic of Danish Modern into his designs. Michael passed away in 1999 but he created many iconic pieces that have stood the test of time and are still much coveted by collectors. Deservedly so. Look at these pieces; I want them all!
Take a look around Vintage Eve’s for more vintage and mid-century modern items!
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