If you’ve been following how silver is trading, you might have realised that the prices of the precious metal surged by the most it has been in nearly three years last week. But even if you’re not into such news, it doesn’t hurt to know that silver is having a moment right now in jewellery based on how the material is prominently used in costume and demi-fine jewellery designs now.
For Danish silver specialist Georg Jensen (say gi-yoh yen-sen) now is an especially important time for it. The brand is marking its 115th anniversary this year. It’s a milestone for the label which has become a shorthand for cool contemporary and sculptural silver pieces that match the notion of what minimalist Scandi design ought to look like. While it may be surprising to those looking at the brand’s modern creations today, the brand has been around since the turn of the 20th century.
A brief history: Its namesake founder Georg Jensen first began his training as a goldsmith at the age of 14. He was also schooled in the art of sculpting and mentored by a master silversmith before opening his silversmithing business at the age of 38 in 1904. According to a New York Times report last year, there seems to be renewed interest in the brand – from the six month-long exhibition about its founder at the Koldinghus Museum in Denmark that ended in Feb 2016 and the successful Christie’s auction of Georg Jensen designs in 2005 that fetched US$8.9 million (S$11.4 million).
Closer to home in Singapore, the brand is staging its own reboot exercise. Despite having a standalone store at Takashimaya and outlets in Tangs at Tangs Plaza and Robinsons The Heeren, Georg Jensen staged a trunk event at lifestyle company two weeks ago. Held at the new 7,000 square feet outpost of lifestyle company Atelier & Co. at Delta House, the event is a precursor to the more intimate and exciting retail experiences it’s planning for throughout the year. All this is part of what its marketing and PR manager Eileen Tan calls a reintroduction to reach a wider audience base.
“Every Scandinavian would have their personal story and experience with the renowned and beloved brand. [However] in Singapore, we noticed that Georg Jensen has been a well-kept secret for many years reserved for the unique individuals who understand Scandinavian minimalism and quality of craftsmanship,” she says. Tan reveals that the next retail experience will happen somewhere in Sept or Oct. In the meantime, here’s a 101 on what you need to know about the brand.
It’s Not All About Modern Minimalism
In fact, Jensen was deeply inspired by the flourishes of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods. Which explains why nature was a recurring motif in his early works and the semi-precious stones like opals and green agate which were common with those design movements often appeared in his creations. The eras’ decorative influences live on in the brand’s Bernadotte tableware line which welcomes eight new additions that will drop later this year. Distinguished by its distinctive elegant ridged surface, the collection was first launched in 1930 as a collaboration between Georg Jensen and a young Swedish prince by the name of Sigvard Bernadotte.
It’s A Hotbed For Designer Tie-Ups
From Marimekko to Ikea, Nordic brands seem to have a thing for collaborating with independent designers. And Georg Jensen is no exception. In fact, the brand has been tapping on the talents of freelance designers since the first day it started with the likes of Kristian Mohl-Hansen. In more modern times, the brand’s more recent tie-ups included one with starchitect Zaha Hadid. This year, that roll call includes LA interior designer Kelly Wearstler who is known for her vibrant and sumptuous creations. Wearstler launches a six-piece collection that includes a candle holder, vase and tray crafted exclusively stainless steel. The inspiration for her wavy-like designs come from a 1968 brooch found in the Georg Jensen archives.
It’s Got Works By A Female Design Legend
Remember the archive design that was the starting point for Georg Jensen’s latest collaboration with Kelly Wearstler? That said piece is called the Mobius and was the brainchild of Vivianna Torun Bulow-Hube who was famous for her design ethos of creating anti-status jewellery. Torun, as she was best known was a legendary Swedish jewellery designer who built her name in the ‘40s and ran in the same circle as Brigitte Bardot and Pablo Picasso. Georg Jensen was somewhat of her fairy godfather when he selected an avant-garde wristwatch design that Torun (a single mum) had designed in 1962.
That timepiece was originally meant for an exhibition and resembled an open bracelet with a watch dial sans any hour and minute hands and indexes. Thanks to Jensen, the commercial adaptation saw the introduction of watch hands and remains in production till today. Other classics that Torun introduced at the brand before she passed in 2004 is the Torun bracelet which is made up of a single piece of hand-folded silver with a sleek hook design.