Flip over essentially the most iconic Dansk designs and also you’ll see the initials J.H.Q. stamped on the underside. They stand for Jens Harald Quistgaard, the Danish designer who crafted greater than 4,000 items for the American firm between its founding in 1954 and the early ‘80s. His Fjord flatware, teak ice buckets, Købenstyle pitchers, Flamestone dishes, Designs With Mild candle holders, and extra are in museums from the Met to the Louvre and fetch more and more excessive costs. However the multi-hyphenate expertise behind them has all the time been within the shadow of his Scandinavian contemporaries, equivalent to Hans Wegner, in each his native nation and america—that’s, till the publication of Jens Quistgaard: The Sculpting Designer.
Once I started constructing the Dansk archive within the spring of 2021, there weren’t many assets about Quistgaard that I might be taught from, apart from a number of Danish museum catalogs and a go to to his daughter, Henriette, who lives of their residence in rural Denmark. Nor was there a dependable supply for the precise dates of designs like Odin flatware and his well-known pepper mills.
Early on, Henriette launched me to Stig Guldberg, a curator, movie director, and design collector who grew to become a good friend in Jens’ final years. Guldberg made the Quistgaard documentary, The Designer Jens Quistgaard: A Saucepan for My Spouse, and curated an exhibition in Denmark whose catalog grew to become a touchstone. And now Guldberg has put collectively the final word monograph. From its cowl (the backbone echoes the wrapped deal with of these Købenstyle pitchers which have been promoting out since they had been reissued final yr) to its in depth visible timeline, the handsomely designed ebook is now the bible among the many Dansk workforce.
It supplies not solely an in depth portrait of the artist and educated silversmith as he developed right into a designer of iconic mid-century fashionable housewares—capable of apply his clear, sculptural contact to silver, metallic, iron, wooden, clay, and glass, even graphic design—but additionally deep-dives into chosen items that make us need to acquire all of them. (As Alexandra Lange put it in her assessment of the ebook for The New Yorker, which additionally discusses Food52’s buy of Dansk in 2021, Guldberg “seeks to disentangle the person from the model, however the housewares client of 2023 treats the ebook like a list.”)
Guldberg consists of little-known tales in his in depth biography of the iconoclastic designer, who, on the first signal of success, left Copenhagen for a personal island, the place he constructed a cottage and workshop and ferried friends over in a dinghy of his personal design. There’s the story of how Quistgaard named the corporate with cofounder Ted Nierenberg, who wished to name it Danish Design (“Name it ‘Dansk Designs,’” Quistgaard informed him. “As a result of ‘Dansk’ is like if you promote vodka in the usA. You utilize its Russian identify…”) And the way one of many early patrons of Dansk’s first product, the teak and stainless-steel Fjord flatware, was Edgar Kauffman, Jr., who purchased it for his nation home—aka the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Fallingwater. After which there are photos of items I’d by no means seen in my many hours scouring eBay and public sale websites for the Dansk archive, equivalent to colourful lacquered candlesticks from the Festivaal assortment, which I instantly snapped and despatched to the Dansk design workforce.
The Sculpting Designer will certainly encourage reissues that can sooner or later make it to the desk. And it’ll give collectors of Quistgaard’s many designs much more appreciation for his or her timeless allure.
What’s your favourite Dansk piece? Inform us within the feedback beneath!
Leave a Comment
You must be logged in to post a comment.