A pioneer in Nordic Industrial Design
(published by Kunstindustrimuseet in Oslo)
Tias Eckhoff was born in Vestre Slidre in the south eastern part of Norway where he then attended school in Oslo before studying as a potter at the State School of Arts and Crafts between the years of 1945 and 1949, as well as training by taking part in various Danish ceramic workshops. During this time he also supplemented his income with simple jewelry designs made with glazed ceramic beads and other materials.
After completing his training he began work at Porsgrund Porcelain works where worked till 1957 and was head designer since 1952. During his stay he designed a number of pieces including a few vases, which were some of his beginner exercises during his stay, and in 1950, a coffee and tea set in Feldspar porcelain with a beautiful transparent glaze and a rippled design around the edges of the plates and bowls as well as the rounded sides of the cups and other pieces developed from his diploma pieces at the School of Arts and Crafts. This would be one of his most successful series, called "Det riflede" and would establish his name as one of the leading Norwegian designers. This was followed by a series of pitchers also in porcelain in 1952 before completing his "Glohane" oven to tableware with its simple forms and beautifully rich glazes in either yellow, black, or a blue/green glaze which was produced between 1955-59. Next would follow two more popular patterns, Hanko, a set of 23 pieces and a decorative scalloping design about the edge, and "Nektar", another pattern also with a strong angular design and severe handles upon the coffee pot and cream jug. These last two, as well as a third design, "Meny" were designed to replace the lower quality designs at Porsgrund, and thereby raise the standards of the factory overall.
After Tias Eckhoff left the porcelain manufactury, he still continued to act as a design advisor to the factory and submitted some freelance designs. "Regent is one such pattern, and one can see in the handles of the pot a smoother and more rounder figure in particular supplanted the harsher angles of previous patterns.
During the 1950's Tias Eckhoff also was prolific with his designs in flatware, one of his firsts being "Cypress" for Georg Jensen in sterling silver,which he developed in 1953, with its elegant and graceful curves and slightly concave handles, which was quite unlike many of the company's prior designs. Following was "Eckhoff", in stainless steel with palisander or variously colored plastic handles, which he designed for Dansk Knivfabrik since 1954. Most notably, the bowl of the spoon was shaped differently from Cypress, getting wider away from the base in a more egg shape rather than Cypress's more oval look, and the tines on the fork growing shorter and wider. This trend continued with "Opus", the next pattern to be designed for Dansk Knivfabrik, designed in 1958, and also in palisander or plastic handles. Also designed in 1958, though produced later was "Fuga" in all stainless steel with polished blades and matte handles. His later design for Norsk Stalpress, "Maya" would be a further departure, with a nearly circular bowl on the spoon and four very short but thin tines upon the fork, and broad outwardly fanning handles. Later would come "Una" also for Norsk Stalpress in 1973, which had an almost childish look to it with is free rounded forms, then with "Tiki" in 1974 and then "Chaco" in 1990, reverting to a more angular design (especially with its nearly rectangular spoon bowl) and narrower handles.
To say he designed tableware, however is to omit a great wealth of design he has contributed, though overall, he may not have been as prolific as other designers, his designs held to a high level of success, much owed to his own high standards and his ability to understand the needs of the consumer as well as the companies he designed for. Though only a small sampling of his works, it should also be noted that Tias Eckhoff's career as a designer, and his international success has carried on long past many of his compatriots and fellow designers.
Other designs include a unique lever door handle which is somewhat reminiscent of the handles of his earlier flatware designs, as well as a simple sink basin, with a similar form to the bowl of his earlier spoons. He also designed simple yet functional keys, as well as a series of chairs including "Ana", a stacking plastic form produced in 1980. Following came "Tomi" a bucket-like stacking chair gracefully balancing on its base in an act of beautiful symmetry. In 1995, Bella soon followed, with its form pressed laminate board shape and fabric back and seat.