GEORG JENSEN SILVER
by Thomas C. Thulstrup, translated by Gaye Kynoch
The Georg Jensen company has become a world renowned name synonymous with high quality design, however its illustrious past started rather humbly when over 106 years ago, a former sculptor, turned once again to his old trade and set up his workshop at 36 Bredgade in Copenhagen. This artist was named Georg Jensen.
Although he found great critical acclaim in his sculptural works, the financial aspect of his career left much to be desired, and in order to feed his growing family, he turned silversmithing. As a younger man, he spent a number of years working in the same cutlery his father, and for a number of years worked under the revered Mogens Ballin, where he learned much of the silversmith trade, as well as the ideals of his employer: to create beautiful and finely crafted decorative products which were still affordable. His years as a sculptor, however did not go to waste! Pulling inspiration from the idyllic countryside of his childhood, his works in silver came alive in beautifully sculpted designs, often utilizing floral motifs, grapes, or other elements. (Click HERE to learn more about Georg Jensen)
Silver itself was not the highly priced precious metal it is today, but instead considered an affordable material for many household objects. Even within an agricultural country like Denmark at the turn of the century, most families had owned and utilized at least one article of silver within the household. Silver was also the typical material for flatware and hollowware as stainless steel is today, though quality, perhaps, varied more greatly, as did the companies that produced silver wares. Towards the more opulent side of the spectrum, P. Hertz, whom was appointed as silversmiths to the Royal Court, followed their craft in a more traditional manner, and on the opposing end, factory silver, appealing for its inexpensive price, were companies similar to Cohr. Georg Jensen was on of the silversmiths to occupy a happy medium, utilizing the best craftsmanship but conscious of costs, utilizing semiprecious stones, and providing smaller items which the new middle class could afford. (Click HERE to learn more about the History of Danish Silver)
Georg Jensen also was fortunate in the time period which he started his business. At the turn of the century, manufacturing was still in its rudimentary phase, and factory produced silver, although less expensive than handcrafted pieces, had still been of a much more inferior quality, which helped to promote various movements such as the Arts and Crafts in England and the Art Nouveau in France, which focused on the craftsmanship of the artisans of the time. In that the rejected the industrialization of the times, they often took on a naturalistic idioms, especially in the realm of Art Nouveau. Just as much as Georg Jensen was a product of his times and surroundings, his aforementioned naturalistic style and focus on craftsmanship appealed greatly to Denmark's own Skonvirke movement of the time.
Though as humble his small shop was, sales were brisk from the start, and when the inventory had sold out, Georg Jensen would often out up a sign stating “Closed for Repairs” as he and his two apprentices would steadily work in peace to build up his stock for the next day. Jewelry was exceptionally successful and soon after, as more silver could be acquired, hollowware pieces soon followed. Jewelry still remained the bulk of the business, as his products were both functional and fashionable. Buckles and brooches accented the clothing and fabrics of the time, and with the rise of large brimmed hats, hatpins were also designed to fill the need to secure ones hair underneath. It was this attention to the needs and desires of his clientele that made him popular. Despite more adventurous designs, which were available at the time, including more abstract motifs, his designs were more sensible and fitting with the styles.
Soon his works started to reach a more worldwide audience, gaining favor in countries like Germany and Austria, and people started talking of the “Georg Jensen style”, and as such, the silversmithy grew, taking on more employees, and other designers were asked to create new items.
Henry Pilstrup was his first apprentice, and had the unfortunate task of translating Georg Jensen's rough sketches into working drawings. As such, his work on the final drawings often held some of his influence. It was also Henry Pilstrup whom was one of the first designers outside of Georg Jensen himself whom exhibited his own pieces under the silversmithy's name, and it was at The Independent Exhibition that he won the award for “Most Beautiful Exhibit”. Other notable designers soon followed, including designs from Gudmund Hentze and Kristian Mohl-Hansen, whom designed the signature “Jensen Dove” (see brooch #165 or brooch #134 as well as earrings #66). Georg Jensen also handled the execution of many private commissions including the design for a ring for painter Holger Drachmann, as well as others. In some cases, this was arranged in such a way that the artists whom commissioned Georg Jensen were in turn commissioned to created new designs. It was, in fact, very similar to how Johan Rohde became associated with the smithy.
Johan Rohde had originally been a painter, and sought out Georg Jensen to craft a number of articles which Rohde had designed for his own personal use. In fact, many of the articles in his home had been of his own design, which later proved popular.
Rohde's designs contrasted well with Georg Jensen's style. Where as Jensen's designs were often full of life and covered his surfaces with motifs, Johan Rohde took a far more restrained approach. His use of decorative elements were also purely decorative, separated from more functional elements which Georg Jensen would often stylize. The item itself would often be pure in its form. A sugar bowl, for example, might be formed from a simple hemisphere shape with an equally simple slightly domed lid, with most of the ornamentation appearing along the stem of the base, forming a gentle resting place for the bowl itself. In many ways such as this, Johan Rohde was ahead of his time. The delineation of elements within a design as well as stylized motifs, such as his scrolling patterns, silver beads, bore a more restrained geometric aspect that preceded the functionalist designs soon to come, however without making a full break from that naturalistic feel of the current times. In fact, as time would progress, his designs would become more restrained, and more advanced. His jug #432, designed in 1925 and with its beautiful graceful curves and its sloping spout in a singular form would stand on its own with pieces designed 25-35 years later, if not for the tiny floral accent at the base of its handle, and is in fact, still in production to this day. His signature acorn, (most notably used in the design of the Acorn flatware pattern), is in fact, also highly stylized, with its form reduced to a decorative form with a peculiar crosshatched surface, perhaps similar in retrospect to naturalistic elements of later artists such as Arno Malinowski. A sugar and creamer set #1011 from 1906 is perhaps even further ahead of its time, featuring no decorative elements at all. Instead, they appear as simple silver bowls, the creamer utilizing a ladle, the least modern of the items in the set with a simple silver bead atop the handle, however the bowls are so restrained that only the slightest dimples protrude from the bowls forming handles. It is this simplicity that would provide a glimpse at the future of the company.
Of perhaps nearly equal importance to the smithy was Harald Nielsen. Brother of Georg Jensen's wife Johanne, Harald Nielsens talents as a daftsman were used, like with Henry Pilstrup, to render the sketches of both Georg Jensen and Johan Rohde into reality. His understanding of Georg Jensen's idiosyncrasies in particular were so exact that there was often difficulty in determining whether a design might be Jensen's or Nielsen's at times.
Harald Nielsen, however, after a while, felt that the naturalistic and well rendered motifs of Georg Jensen's style weren't quite suiting to his own tastes, and started to develop his own style which pulled influences not only from Jensen, but from Rohde as well. As such, his style provided an exquisite middle ground. Utilizing large smooth surfaces, which were once again in vogue, as the Skonvirke movement was coming to a close in the 1920's and functionalism started its rise, and his highly stylized decorative elements, he would herald in the next age for the silversmithy. Most notable of his designs would be “Pyramid” which not only developed from the interest in Egyptology at the time, but also, with its straightforward design, allowed for the new, more advanced machinery to be utilized in its production. As such, forms could be pressed or molded roughly and then refined by craftsmen to their final presentation, which reduced the work time without sacrificing quality, and as such, helped to allow the silversmithy to expand in 1918 with the opening of the new smithy. By this time, Georg Jensen employed over 150 people and was still expanding.
It was also during this time in the company's history that the silversmithy itself started to grow to the point where it required outside capital to keep up with increasing demands. In 1914, the Baltic Exhibition in Malmo, Sweden was exposed to the wondrous designs that were Georg Jensen. It was through this event that Nils Wendel became enamoured with Jensen's silver and began to sell it through his shop, gathering up whatever pieces were available, and soon became one of the largest clients of the silversmithy at the time and developed the market in Sweden. With the growing market, as well as the need for capital to acquire both the machinery and raw materials necessary to complete orders, as well as an extraordinarily large order from the shipping company DFDS for cigar boxes in 1916, the company started to rely on outside investors, and was reformed with Georg Jensen as president.
Unfortunately this did not last for long, as Georg Jensen was an artist more than a businessman, and family quarrels compounded troubles within the company. As such Georg Jensen soon left his position to restart in Paris in the mid 1920's. Expansion, however continued as new Georg Jensen shops appeared in Europe, first London in 1921, followed by Barcelona in 1925 and Brussels ten years later. After the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exhibition in San Francisco, where Georg Jensen won the Grand Prix, interest began to develop in the USA as well and newspaper magnate William Randal Hearst bought most of Jensen's items at the exhibit. The success of the exhibition was also one of the reasons Fredrik Lunning had such great interest in opening his store in New York in 1924, selling Georg Jensen silver, amongst other Scandinavian decorative items.
Taking a huge risk, Lunning had targeted America's wealthier clientele, and promoted his goods through various exhibitions and galleries, including the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. In many ways Frederik Lunning was a crafty salesman. Stories of how he would discuss the Georg Jensen cufflinks he was wearing with other bus passengers are a testament to his persuasive sales pitch. He also tried to maintain the utmost in customer service, sometimes disguising himself amongst other customers on the elevator, critisizing the staff to coax out any complaints customers might have against the staff (and you can imagine there were very few!) He also managed to gain exclusive rights to sell Georg Jensen goods in the USA soon after his business proved to be successful, which in turn put himself into a powerful position with the company, though perhaps not unearned considering his hard work at establishing Georg Jensen as a brand name.
By 1929, criticisms of the old styles, in particular that of Skonvirke were loudly vocal, and stylistically people were forward looking turning to a new aesthetic that focused on function over decoration, which would lead towards the modernism yet to come. Even within the Danish Cabinetmaker's guild, changes were afoot, as old techniques utilizing old materials gave way to new experimentations with chromed steel and unusually sleek and trimmed down forms. Within the realm of silver, Georg Jensen's more floral designs started to give way to Johan Rohde's restrained idioms. In Germany, the Deutscher Werkbund embraced Functionalism early on, promoting that design should be based more on general forms, which not only emphasized functionality and utilitarian purpose, but also suited the factory machines better, promoting greater standardization and mass production. Denmark's consumers were not immune to these ideas and influences and demand both abroad and at home forced the Georg Jensen company to once again reinvent itself, this time with Swedish Prince Sigvaard Bernadotte to lead the charge.
Sigvaard Bernadotte had studied at the Decorative School of the Acadmey of Fine Arts in Stockholm, and in 1930, while assisting in the preparations and installation of an exhibition held in the city, he was inspired by the designs executed by Georg Jensen's son, Jorgen Jensen. It wasn't long after that he was scouted by Nils Wendel, a representative of the company in Sweden, and soon began designing for Georg Jensen.
Starting off with the most basic shapes, the cube and the cylinder, Bernadotte's designs often took on unique geometric forms, decorated with the use of straightforward horizontal lines, tiny silver balls, and other geometric decorations. Small grooves also became idiomatic of his designs, including the flatware line that would bear his name, utilizing three long grooves which would trace nearly parallel down the length of the handles. At first, his designs were difficult for the general consumer to associate with, being to radically departed from the styles they were accustomed to, however as his designs softened slightly, and very sober yet sophisticated motifs garnered great reviews, the public began to develop a taste for the new style.
Also championing this more Art Deco idiom was Oscar Gundlach Pedersen, whom started to design pieces in silver with highly polished clean surfaces and geometric motifs even before Bernadotte. In 1928, he had produced his own cocktail set which had the odd shape resembled a downward pointing cartridge shell, which with its floral base, only tenuously clung to the old naturalist motifs of the previous designers. His flatware pattern Parallel, with its sharply defined parallel grooves perpendicular to the length of the handle would eventually prove to be a further departure from the old style however, and provide both a complimentary yet contrasting idiom to that of Bernadotte. The paralllel grooves would also end up being featured as part of the design for a pair of brooches, which would feature circular elements as well as a small silver bead which balanced well within the overall asymmetrical design.
Harald Nielsen's designs would also continue down this path, sometimes juxtaposing geometric shapes as he did with his belt buckle designed in 1930, with two overlapping squares of silver offset at the top and bottom with a small silver bead, however neither he nor Gundlach-Pedersen would take to the ideals of Functionalism as did Sigvaard Bernadotte.
It wouldn't be until the arrival of Arno Malinowski in the late 30's that naturalistic motifs would return to popularity within the silversmithy. Trained as a sculptor and medalist, Malinowski took to more natural themes, including birds and in particular deer, as well as floral components, however, his designs did not carry the same stylistic elements of Georg Jensen's designs. His experience in designing medals played out well in his designs, which often featured various scenes, rather than static elements, and subdued forms with polished surfaces were distinctly different from the highly rendered motifs in the past. Often floral accents had an almost geometric nature to them, forming starbursts, rather than detailed petals, and an art deco feel still held true to his designs.
It wasn't long after his arrival, however, that war would break out for the second time across Europe, and at first, the silversmithy benefitted as people began to buy silver as an investment as they often do in times of economic concern, and in the United States, Sigvaard Bernadotte's designs were becoming fashionable, however, by 1940, when the Germans occupied Denmark, the silversmithy was hit with a crisis. Imports of both silver and semiprecious stones had been halted. Only 1% of the company's pre-occupational imports amounting to 15 tons of silver were available. Another material had to be found.
Gudorph Albertus' Mitra pattern, based on the shape of a bishop's headpiece, became the first cutlery set to be manufactured in the new material: stainless steel. Originally marketed as a set for a younger audience and for use in summer homes, the pattern found popularity and would start the trend toward stainless steel's acceptance in the household in later years. As for jewelry, however, renewed interest in much older materials, such as bronze, iron and certain woods would find their way into designs, allowing for the amount of silver required for designs to be reduced. Color would be introuduced once again through enamelling, which would also remain in use in post war designs. Arno Malinowski took well to these wartime measures, and though his works prior had certain Japanese influences, during the war, his study of Japanese techniques for inlaying iron with silver proved extremely useful.
It was also Arno Malinowski that was responsible for another great boon to the company during the war: the kingmark.
By the summer of 1940, the silversmithy was in dire straits due to wartime efforts and as Denmark had recently been occupied by Nazi forces in April, however not all was lost. King Christian X's 70 th birthday was to be celebrated on September 20 th of the same year. Originally planned to be a relatively small project, a number of designers had put forth proposed designs: Gustav Pedersen, Harald Nielsen... but it was Arno Malinowski whose design was chosen. Utilizing very little silver, and a stamped design, which was later filled in with red enamel, (a gold version was also created using white enamel instead), as per the specifications of the project, the kingmark was based on the danish flag with a crown atop and the King's monogram etched into the center. The years (1870 and 1940) were set at the bottom into the red enamel fields. It sold for only 4 kroner, of which, 1 krone was donated to Kong Christian den Tiendes Fond, the King's charitable fund.
Originally expected to only sell a few hundred, the kingmark had turned out to be a far greater success than anticipated, and sold well over 1 million pieces. The design itself instantly became a national symbol of solidarity under occupation, and was adopted as a unsuspected proclamation of those sympathetic with anti-Nazi factions. The design had expanded beyond its original, appearing on cufflinks and other items. It became imitated and appeared on letteropeners and other items. People had even begun to carve the design out of loose coins to form lapels. In fact, a number of publications illegal during the occupation had begun using it as a logo! The desire for the kingmark was so great, that special collections were put up to gather the silver needed, and in many cases, the marks had been presold before they were manufactured. After the Liberation in 1945, production of the mark continued till the King's death in 1947, having saved the smithy, raised over 1.5 million kroner for charity, and maintained national hope during a time of despair.
After the occupation, a young sculptor and artist by the name of Henning Koppel had returned to Denmark, to design for Georg Jensen. Originally he was trained at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, the same school as Arno Malinowski and Georg Jensen himself. (Learn more about Henning Koppel HERE) He enjoyed early success, his first exhibit being a bust of his father, the newspaper editor Valdemar Koppel, showing at the Artist's Autumn Exhibition in 1935, and by 1942 had formed an artist's association called Bolleblomsten, which had but only one exhibition before Koppel had to flee with his family to Sweden before the Nazis started detaining Danish Jews.
During his stay in Sweden, he began to earn money selling paintings, and soon after was given the opportunity to design jewelry in pewter. His designs happened to capture the eye of Anders Holstrup-Pedersen, whom pursuaded him to work for the smithy. He was also highly recommended by his classmate at the academy, Soren Georg Jensen, one of Georg Jensen's sons.
At the silversmithy, Henning Koppel set about to create his own style. He shared much of the criticism against the silversmithy's earlier, much more ornate designs, preferring a far more stringent style, however he also had little love for the functionalism present at the time. Instead, he drew much of his inspiration from Johan Rhode's sober designs and graceful natural shapes instead, (remember the aforementioned jug #432, which would not look too out of place when compared to many of Koppel's designs, although both artist could easily be distinguished.) Unlike Rhode, however, he completely did away with the decorative elements of Rhode, relying on the shapes of the pieces to distinguish themselves. His penchant to use extreme shapes and angles pushed both the material and the silversmiths under him to their limits. His highly organic designs, in fact, was similar to what became, in fact, “Organic Modernism”, named after the “Organic Design in Home Furnishing” exhibit at MoMA in New York in 1940. Solid construction, intense precision, as well as his highly freeform asymmetrical and abstract forms had created a new style and once again helped to reinvent and propel the smithy forward.
His first design was for a bracelet, which utilized six differently shaped links in wildly abstract shapes, hammered out to almost resemble small amoebic sculptures. It became a wild success, and soon lead to other articles of jewelry. Brooches in equally imaginative figures with blue enamel and necklaces soon led to larger abstractions in the form of candelabras, salt and pepper cellars, and a series of jugs.
However, Henning Koppel wasn't the only designer to make himself known through the silversmithy during the 50's. Standing opposite to his organic designs was his former classmate, Soren Georg Jensen, whose designs also took on a sculptural nature, however unlike Koppel, fully embraced the functionalist idiom. (Learn More about Soren Georg Jensen HERE) Also trained as a sculptor, Soren Georg Jensen also gained much acclaim for his scultpural works and to this day many of his monolthic works still reside in many of the parks and public spaces in Denmark. Instead of utilizing organic forms, Soren Georg Jensen often took to more geometric shapes, using spaced bands, cylinders, and rectangular forms, much like Sigvaard Bernadotte. Though he executed a number of designs for jewelry, his focus was primarily on hollowware articles, much like his contemporary, Magnus Stephensen, whom in a few cases their designs reflected a striking similarity.
Magnus Stephensen started to design for Georg Jensen in 1952 after already working with Kaj Bojesen on a number of designs. He primarily focused on items of utility within the household, including serving dishes, pots, pans, and jugs and carried this focus through unto the designs themselves. Large polished surfaces, (similar to those that troubled Sigvaard Bernadotte's early attempts) became part of his stylistic execution, partially to counter the growing threat of stainless steel, which lacked to some degree the highly reflective nature of silver., and perhaps far more so simply out of the focus of utility his designs maintained. Magnus Stephensen did not decorate his pieces, but instead designed the handles, for example, of a saucepan to allow enough distance from the heat of the pan to keeps one's hands from burning. His designs embraced a more elegant curvature at times that went well with Henning Koppel's hollowware, however his overall adherence to functionalism still was closer to Soren Georg Jensen's. It would unfortunately be one of the last stands made by silver as a material for everyday items, as tastes had changed, the household simplified, and silver itself too expensive and requiring too much care for common everyday use.
By way of Finn Juhl, a furniture and exhibition designer, Jorgen and Nanna Ditzel were introduced to the silversmithy, whom expressed a desire to seek out fresh ideas and new designers. Nanna Ditzel had proposed a beautiful bangle bracelet design, which held a large voluminous shape. Although visually very heavy, the piece itself was hollow to allow for easy wear and utilized new techniques. At first it wasn't easy to get the design accepted. Henry Pilstrup was close to retiring as supervisor of the silversmithy, and believed it nearly impossible to make hollow silver items of the quality the company was known for. Eventually he relented, and the design still remains part of the catalog today. At the time, many designers still held to functionalism, and it was up to artist like Henning Koppel and Nanna Ditzel to propel the art further to reflect contemporary styles. Like Henning Koppel, her designs often took on a sculptural aspect, however, her designs often were primarily known for their immense volume and simple geometrical shapes with large polished surfaces. Her designs were often sculpted out three dimensionally, and reflected a care and sensuality to its wearer and their comfort.
It was also around this time that the notion of “Danish Design” came into its own. In 1951, on his 70 th birthday, Frederik Lunning announced the start of the Lunning Prize, which was meant to award new and upcoming designers in the Scandinavian countries the chance to travel and expand their sources of inspiration, and quickly became the “Nobel Prize” of design, as well as helped to promote Scandinavian design worldwide. Many designers for Georg Jensen designers were also Lunning Prize winners as well, including Henning Koppel, Nanna Ditzel, and Torun (Learn More about the Lunning Prize HERE). The Milan Triennial and other exhibitions had also played part in displaying Scandinavian design to the public and gained interest. Furniture design also florished as seen by the designs of members of the Cabinetmaker's Guild. The Georg Jensen Silvermithy also had its part to represent designs in the realm of silver and began also hosting its own competitions in order to stay ahead of the times.
By the sixties however, things had started to change. Though sales were still steady and the silversmithy was doing well, the times themselves were changing. Silver demanded too much care and maintenance for everyday use. The price of silver was on the rise, and thus, the items created from the material were rising in cost as well. The household had changed as well. No longer was there the large households with live in help, which had long since disappeared with industrialization, but now the concept of the stay at home wife was disappearing as women began to enter the workforce. Silver no longer reflected the needs of the middle class, whom spent ever larger portions of their time away from the household. Though cutlery still performed well, sales of hollowware decreased dramatically, and other materials including stainless steel, but also aluminum and melamine started to replace these items. Dishwashers were also new to the household and performed poorly with silver, (or rather silver could not withstand damaging effects of the dishwasher).
Luckily trade with foreign nations had become easier than ever, and new markets began to open. Trade in Japan, oddly enough started when a businessman, Shigehiko Koshiba, was given a pair of dolphin cufflinks (design #129 by Arno Malinowski) and had been enamoured with the quality and craftsmanship of the silversmithy.Koshiba soon started to build a strong market in Japan for Georg Jensen's design. Primarily jewelry sold in the Asian markets, however a desire for silver cutlery to supplement chopsticks developed. By the turn of the 21 st century, Japan had become one of largest market for the company.
With the changing household, came also the change in social conventions and the way people dined out. As restaurants became less formal, more casual dinnerware was also developed by the silversmithy to keep up with the times.
Consumerism started to become the norm, and with it, the focus on fashion had also changed the face of jewelry and the way it was marketed.
Previously, jewelry and other fashionable articles had a longer “shelf life” per se, as one might only one one watch, or one pair of “good shoes”. Thrift abounded, and jewelry was only meant to accent one's formal wear. As prosperity increased, and with the new informality, this no longer was the case. The line between formal and day to day wear blurred, and with it came the desire to follow more seasonal fashions. As seasonal fashion developed, so did the jewelry to go with it, and with the proliferation of jewelry, like with clothing, it became a means of expression, rather than a functional item or accent for the dress.
As demand grew, the Georg Jensen Silversmithy had begun to experiment more with different designs and materials, and oddly enough, gold jewelry became a popular material in its creation, despite it's higher price. In fact, Henning Koppel and Nanna Ditzel had both designed in gold, as well as other artists such as Erik Herlow, whom utilized semiprecious stones in brooch with citrines, design #802. Overall, these newer designs in gold had utilized the metal far better than previous iterations, and stood well in their own right. In her later designs, Nanna Ditzel also started working with semiprecious stones, utilizing their color in new ways. A necklace from 1960, for example, formed a sturdy neck ring, with many flat surface where thin plates of carnelian were inlaid, creating two rings of stunning almost glassine deep red circles.
Arje Griegst also made a name for himself with his incredibly sculptural one off rings in gold with various precious and semiprecious stones. His designs often had a free-form liquidity about them, resembling molten metal. He, however, was not the only one to design individual pieces, as the “one off” became popular for its highly individualized style. The desire helped to also fuel the desire to invite more independent jewelry artists to design for the company.
During the 60's Vivianna Torun had also started designing for the silversmithy, already having gained much acclaim from her independent designs, which were worn in many popular circles, and whose customers included such people as Billie Holiday and Ingrid Bergman. Her inspiration came often from her surroundings, as with her mobile necklaces, which utilized stones she gathered around the beaches of the Mediterranean, and accentuated the female body, either via the stones that hung down the back, or the graceful lines of the neck ring that accentuated the neck and shoulders. (Learn More About Torun HERE) It was in fact, with emphasis on the wearer's already inherent beauty that Torun designed her pieces. Her belief was that in the past, jewelry was often emphasized for its value, and its female wearer, by extension, was a method to show off a man's wealth.
By 1960, she had won the Lunning prize, for her stunning works, and in 1967, her entire catalog of designs was taken over production-wise by the Georg Jensen Silversmithy. Although she had a great number of designs, she continued her work, and one of the first series of designs produced for the company included the Mobius series, based on the similarly named Mobius strip, a circular shape with a half twist creating a singular sided plane. With no front or back, it was a continuous shape that alluded to eternity. This shape as well as the spiral bear much symbolic emphasis on Torun's work, as well as utilizing the lesser used properties of the metal, including its flexibilty and ability to capture light with its shiny surfaces. Her clasps also were often an integral part of the design of her pieces, and rather than being a separate piece, but rather all elements formed from a singular length of silver.
Hollowware was still on the decline in the 60's and 70's, and rather than designing large sculptural pieces like the fish platter designed by Henning Koppel, pieces became smaller in scale. Silver pipkins or butter beaks became popular at the time, and one in particular designed by Henning Koppel utilized many of the same features as an earlier design by Soren Georg Jensen, both of which had an organic bulbous shape, however, whereas Soren Georg Jensen's design had placed the oval opening directly towards the top, and utilized a flat silver handle, Henning Koppel's design was far more playful and animated, utilizing a wooden handle and opening resembled a baby bird's open beak, awaiting its mother to feed it. New machines and materials also changed the field, soon attention was given to the less expensive stainless steel over silver. By 1952, Magnus Stephensen had already designed a coffee set in stainless, by 1963, Soren Georg Jensen had done the same. As time progressed, both had designed many more items in the material, including frying pans, pots and bowls, as well as saucepans, and stainless steel was considered “the precious metal of today”in many of its advertisements. Despite this, however, reactions were growing against the functionalist movement and the direction it was moving towards. By the 70's silver had become old fashioned and instead of focusing on the material itself, Georg Jensen, as a company began to focus more on highly stylish and luxurious design. Astrid Fog's “13” series of carving knives in stainless steel became briefly popular, and more and more designers started to experiment once again with same alternative materials that became popular during wartime efforts.
There was also an explosion of cutlery patterns during this time period. During a competition on the 50 th anniversary, the first prize in cutlery was awarded to Tias Eckhoff for his stunningly beautiful Cypress pattern. Surmising 49 pieces, it became an instant bestseller, overtaking Acorn with its slim channeled handles, graceful lines, and extremely narrow joint between the handle and shoulders. Highly utilitarian, Eckhoff said, “My thoughts behind the design were to reach a beautiful, simple, and functional solution. I particularly set myself to the task of finding an 'economical' utilisation of the silver in which strength, weight distribution, and handling are given optimal consideration without unnecessary waste of the material. I would also like to show the elasticity and litheness achievable in a slim, pressed silver cutlery design – to enhance the silver's distinct suppleness when using the cutlery.”
In 1957, three years later, Henning Koppel designed Caravel, a broad flatware pattern which started at the base with a narrow point and swept upward to a broad sweeping shape incorporating the shoulder of the piece, a stark contrast to the lighter, narrower Cypress. With the high price of silver, Magnus Stephensen had produced Tuja in 1956, another stainless steel pattern, which was highly suited to manufacturing via machine punching and molds. Tuja was also conscious of its material construction, and utilized a smaller blade with a longer cutting surface, and with shorter tines on the fork which allowed for a greater bowl to scoop gravy. It was also, overall, one of the first stainless steel patterns that embraced the steel for its inherent beauty, rather than a poor imitation of silver. In 1963, Henning Koppel designed his famous New York pattern and then soon after came Strata, with its dishwasher safe delrin handles in many colors, which answered to the French bristro flatware which became popular during the time. Svend Siune, in 1965, also took up the challenge of stainless steel, and created the relatively inexpensive Blue Shark pattern, which sold at a tenth of the price of many of the silver patterns.
With the silver crisis of 1972-73, it became difficult to continue producing flatware in sterling silver, and as such, patterns in silver plate began to be produced as an alternative. Mitre and New York, originally stainless steel patterns, were adapted first to this new method, and soon Pyramid and Bernadotte followed.
It wasn't long after that the Georg Jensen silversmithy expanded into producing a number of other goods for both the household and other settings, its products changing with the times. Instead of focusing on the designers, the silversmithy began to focus on the customer's desires, however high style and design in the realm of silver hadn't completely vanished from the smithy's legacy. More than, before, Georg Jensen encouraged the production of many artistic pieces and museum pieces. Alev Siesbye had been known for her beautiful bowls which seemed almost suspended in air above the surface upon it rested, had her works translated into silver by the smithy. In the 80's, a number of designs in hollowware by Nanna Ditzel had truly displayed the versatility of silver as well.
Allan Scharff started to design for the smithy in 1988, and with his series of playful designs utilizing birds as a motif were popular. His Ibis jug, for example, gets its shape from the profile of the bird whose name it bears, with its long graceful neck forming the body of the jug, and a long projecting spout formed from the beak. Another, a paperweight and letteropener, utilized the bird form, and gracefully nested atop of one another creating a beautiful sculptural work.
Cutlery also developed with Torun's introduction of Vivianna in 1997, with a “secret” heart shape within the bowl of the spoon. However, jewelry remained the mainstay of the firm's income, and new designs were introduced, including the playful accessories of Jacqueline Rabun, and the beautifully simple Eclipse ring designed by Kim Buck, which used translucent stones and a hollow back to allow for light to shine through and create a warm glow to the stone on the finger of its wearer. Also notable were a series of interchangable rings , the Magic Ring, designed by Regitze Overgaard in 2001, with its interchangable center, which was playful and customizable by the customer. Even more customizable was the Fusion ring designed in 2000 by Nina Koppel, with its two interlocking designs (an end piece and a middle) in six different styles (white yellow and red/pink gold, with or without diamonds) for a truly amazing number of variations, proving that over 100 years, Georg Jensen is still going strong.
Designed and Maintained by Soren Jensen and Brendan Edmonds