Walking around Nørrebro in Copenhagen there are many Asian shops, all of which boast a brigade of little waving cat figurines – also known as Maneki-neko. They seem so omnipresent that I suspect they are part of a Secret Danish Surveillance System – one that makes sure you only cross the street on green and pay your taxes promptly.
These felines are the exact opposite of everything “Danish Design” is reported to be, and if I had to name a Danish counterpart to a Maneki-neko it would be Kay Bojesen’s teak monkey (nearly every Danish home has one).
I like unlikely pairings – or perhaps my subconscious does – because one day as I walked past yet another window full of friendly cats, I pictured them painted with the Royal Copenhagen pattern, the quintessential floral design used on the most famous of Danish porcelain. And my brain doesn’t stop once it has had such an idea, so I had to make it real.
The Maneki-neko is often called a Chinese Lucky Cat, even though it originates from Japan. It has a variety of qualities centered around bringing the owner wealth and good luck. Most cats hold a coin that basically tells the universe to ‘make it rain’ for the shop owner.
The Royal Copenhagen product line is considered the ultimate in traditional good taste in Denmark, and was actually inspired by the Danes’ fascination with blue and white porcelain imported from China in the 17th century. The first pieces were created as a dining set for the Royal Family.
Wealth + Luck + Royal Snobbery = the Ultimate Present for somebody who has a birthday (this includes most people). But where to find such a present? That’s right, this present is so ultimate it must be made from scratch.
After several layers of spray paint, a painstaking application of blue acrylic paint, feedback from my creative cohorts here in Copehagen, and only a few curse words, a new kind of cat was born.
Thus, I present you the first ever “Royal Copenhagen Cat”. There is only one, and he/she has a special post here in the Country of Smiles and Peace. Somehow I don’t think Den Kongelige Porcelainsfabrik (i.e. Royal Porcelain Factory) had cats in mind when they created their famous blue flower design. Perhaps I’ve given them something to think about? The Queen might not approve, but my kitsch-o-meter does!