The story of Danish Art Weaving
It was a time of war and the occupational forces held Denmark in a vice. To his great annoyance, Peter Kjeldsen was stuck in Vendsyssel, unable to travel back home to his businesses in America. He had been on a visit to his relatives in the old mother country when World War II broke out and cut off all connections across the Atlantic. Now the enterprising business man sat around in Sulsted a little north of Aalborg, frustrated that he had nothing to do.
But one day he met the doctor’s wife, Marie Kristensen. Since the 1920’s she had had an interest in the old fustian weavings that she collected and preserved with enthusiasm and care. When Peter Kjeldsen saw Marie Kristensen’s collections of beautiful fabrics he became so carried away that he immediately suggested to her that the two of them establish a weaving mill that would carry forth this cultural heritage.
When the war had ended, Peter Kjeldsen and Marie Kristensen established their business in Tylstrup north of Aalborg and named it Vævegården. It had a somewhat difficult start due to the lack of materials that persisted for several years after the war. It was almost impossible to obtain wool, but, luckily, Peter Kjeldsen was a man of many talents and many connections. He succeeded in procuring a consignment of coffee and this he traded for clean, new wool for his weaving mill.
In the beginning, the wool was washed, prepared and dyed in a rented basement in Brønderslev, while the weaving took place on homesteads in the vicinity. At Vævegården itself, production was coordinated and quality control made sure that the fabrics matched the quality of the best fustian weavings in Marie Kristensen’s collection. In time, a number of weavers were also employed to carry out sample weaving and development.
From there on the weaving mill took steadily off, and when Peter Kjeldsen sold the business in 1957 it had expanded several times – for instance with its own furniture shop. Throughout the coming years, all activities were collected at Vævegården, and 1972 saw the arrival of the first mechanical looms. The old hand looms were still kept for manufacturing of more unique and artistic tasks such as church fabrics.
Today Vævegården – that has since changed its name to Danish Art Weaving (DAW) – still holds firm on the traditions of the weaving craft and the high quality demands originally laid out by Marie Kristensen. Production has moved abroad, but exactly like Peter Kjeldsen in his day DAW still sets a constant focus on development and innovation of collections and design.
In other words, DAW has its roots solidly planted in the crossing between tradition and innovation. It still supplies the fustian weavings it all began with – both in the classic version and in a new redesigned edition. No doubt both Peter Kjeldsen and Marie Kristensen would approve of that development.