Portland based artist, author and blogger Lisa Congdon is well known for her collections of Mid-Century pottery, vintage school supplies and Scandinavian furniture (among countless others) but her Cathrineholm collection ranks tops. Her thoughtfully displayed 20-piece collection of graphic bold bowls, platters and more even once landed her on the pages of Martha Stewart Living. Lisa doesn’t remember which piece came first but as she accumulated more she pieces she began to wonder, “what is this stuff and where does it come from?”
Tell us about your first experience buying or coming across a Cathrineholm piece.
About eighteen years ago, I started to become really interested in and drawn to Mid-Century Scandinavian design and began collecting different things from that era. Somewhere along the line after that (as one does when one is a collector) I was perusing an antique mall and found my first piece of Cathrineholm. It was a shop in Sonoma, California, and my sister and I were there together spending the day walking around. I think we both sort of ran over to the piece (she loves Scandinavian design too) but I got to it first.
You’re well known for your numerous, cool collections. How does the Cathrineholm collection fare among your favorites?
Cathrineholm is my largest collection and the one I am the most proud of. Many of my collections sit in drawers in my studio or parts of them might be displayed here or there. But every piece of Cathrineholm I own is displayed, and I actually designed my dining room spaces to accommodate the collection. In my current home in Portland, I bought a Danish hutch just to display them.
Do you have a favorite piece? Are there any specific pieces that you aspire to own?
I am always looking for a color combination I don’t already own. Also, the color lotus leaves on white background are harder to find, and I would love to find more of those. My favorite part of the collection is a set of red salad size bowls that my friend Faythe gave to me. She found them at a thrift store. I was visiting her in Wisconsin and she served me cereal for breakfast in one of them. I just about had a heart attack because I’d never seen red Cathrineholm bowls in such pristine condition before. When I was leaving to go home the next day, she handed the set to me. I almost cried.
Do you use the pieces or are they decorative?
I do use a handful of the bowls, large and small, for salads and serving sides at dinner parties, but not regularly and they never go into the dishwasher. Cathrineholm is really well made so the enamel holds up well over time, but I am trying to keep my collection as pristine as possible. One thing I love about Cathrineholm is that it’s not too precious. They are practical pieces and so it feels right to use them every now and again. I feel like that is what they were intended for so I honor that by using them judiciously.
Do you know anyone with a more prolific Cathrineholm collection?
I don’t, but I have no doubt at all he or she exists.
This post was written by Chantal Lamers, a design and lifestyle writer, researcher and graphics reporter. She lives in the San Francisco East Bay with her husband, two kids and her vintage collections. Thanks, Chantal!
Lead photo courtesy of @vampyrex