From toy to design art at MoMA

Nis Hauge’s Clumsy Hans trivet encourages play and creativity at the dining table while waiting for food. Here you can read the story about the trivet that was first meant to be a toy but ended exemplifying Danish design art at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Many people have read or heard Hans Christian Andersen’s tale about Clumsy Hans.

While his two brothers smeared their mouths with cod liver oil to enhance their eloquence, it proved to be Hans, utterly lacking in learning but with endless creativity and the gift of the gab, who won the princess and the crown.

Nis Hauge’s interpretation of Clumsy Hans does not speak, nor does it boast great wisdom. But it represents classic Danish design in its focus on functionality.

And in itself it encourages creativity to flourish - and that’s almost better than becoming king and winning a throne.

Cultivates creativity and playfulness

The Danish designer Nis Hauge (1972) envisioned the first version of Clumsy Hans as a toy, precisely because it could be twisted and turned in a profusion of variations.

It was intended to stimulate children’s’ creativity, curiosity and imaginations – the central pillars of Nis Hauge’s design universe.

Creativity, playfulness and ideas must be nurtured, and it certainly doesn’t matter if this happens at the dinner table.

Trivets that vary in shape and expression

Just like Clumsy Hans in the fairy tale, the Clumsy Hans trivet is ... yes, clumsy, yet extremely charming.

It’s made up of small components that can be turned and twisted. This means both the large and smaller versions can vary hugely in form and appearance.

The Clumsy Hans trivet evolved from an idea to create a functional and recognisable product that would also serve as a playful sculpture on the dining table or in a small corner of the home.

It’s “clunky” structure lets you create vivid figures - and it’s the perfect pastime to let creativity wander where it will while you wait for the trivet to assume its “proper” function of protecting the table surface from hot dishes and pots.

Compose your own fairy tale

Clumsy Hans is available in a large and a smaller version. If you buy both the large and the small – or even two of the same type – you’ll be royally equipped to compose your own fairy tales at the dinner table. They can even sit together – and hold hands.

MoMA has selected Clumsy Hans for inclusion in their collection of classic modern and cutting-edge design products for kids and adults.

In itself something of a fairy tale.