Malmö based Siri Skillgate, the brains behind Dum Keramik (directly translated to dumb ceramics), was born and raised in Stockholm. She was encouraged by her parents to explore her artistic side already at an early age and has explored several paths within the artistic field ever since.
Before even graduating from her master’s degree in Industrial Design from Lund University in 2016, Skillgate had founded her own design studio and was working as a freelance designer. During this time she grew sceptic towards the industry and its unsustainable practices, which she felt were not only harmful to the planet and marginalized communities, but also to the design process as a whole. Along with this came the decision to close down her studio and instead focus on exploring ways to work artistically while still being sustainable, both from an ethical and economical perspective. These principles became the foundation for DUM KERAMIK, Skillgate’s ceramic studio in Malmö, where she makes everything herself.
This way of questioning the conventions and turning things on their head also shows in Skillgate’s aesthetic. Her expression is playful and intuitive, which she herself explains is a result of being bored by the polished design that dominates today. Skillgate’s way of working continues to be a reaction against the work she did as an industrial designer, now instead allowing herself the space to be silly, independent and artistic in her work. Her expression is, however, not only a response to her previous way of working, but is also a result of the lack of expertise in the craft she’s working with. Skillgate is easy and honest with the fact that she isn’t an educated ceramicist and that she lacks the patience and interest in trying to master clay to make perfectly pretty objects. Instead, Skillgate sees her lack of knowledge as a tool in her creative process.
This ease and playfulness is what makes the pieces from Dum Keramik fun and a delight to look at. For The Ode To, Skillgate has created the series Mixed Emotions. The series consists of ceramic sculptures made from coloured and pressed stoneware clay, in the signature Dum Keramik vessel shape with ears and decorative smileys. For this particular set of works Skillgate has worked with a more earth toned clay and also added a decorative confetti print, which symbolises the celebration of what will hopefully be a long and festive collaboration between Dum Keramik and The Ode To. We can’t help but agree. See DUM KERAMIK’s ceramic vases.