Danish Georg Jensen (1866-1935) took a risk when he founded his silversmith company in 1904. Trained as both as a metalsmith and sculptor and with an education in the fine arts, he was neither the typical artist nor the typical labourer of the day, but with a passion for craftsmanship and his meagre savings he opened shop in the heart of Copenhagen. Luckily people soon became enamoured of his ornate Art Nouveau style of jewellery, and took notice as he revived the artisan-craftsman tradition. As the variety and range of his ornamental creations expanded, so did his reputation for democratic design – within 20 years he had secured international success and had retail shops around New York, Berlin, London, Paris, and Stockholm. He scouted and secured many talented designers to work alongside him, and all of them were given free rein to experiment as well as being fully credited with whatever designs went to production, which was no small reward for the time.
With vast collections of watches, cutlery, hollowware, jewellery, and home design products, the company has to this day never abandoned its founding principles: to celebrate the simplicity of Nordic living, to enjoy functional and aesthetic design, and to provide beautiful metal wares at affordable prices. The designer’s creativity and prolificacy also approach mythic status: many of the almost 500 designs that were in production in the first ten years of the company were Jensen’s own, which is no mean feat in any era.
Today, more than 100 years later, the name Georg Jensen is still associated with passion, focus, and clarity of vision. In a time when many struggled to make a living off of their art, Georg Jensen maintained the perseverance to not only support his family, but to create a permanent legacy and aesthetic sensibility in the history of Danish design.