A tour of the Georg Jensen silver workshops in Copenhagen
What does Georg Jensen mean to you? Before I had a behind the scenes tour of the Georg Jensen workshops in Copenhagen, I might have thought of beautiful, handcrafted antique silverware, some simple Scandinavian cutlery designs or Arts and Crafts style jewellery. I discovered that it is all these things but there’s a fresh vibe in the air that’s reinventing all that heritage for a younger, design conscious audience.
The tour that I made as part of the TBEX travel bloggers exchange conference in Copenhagen is only available by special arrangement as the workshops aren’t open to the public, but still let me give you give you a glimpse of what we saw.
We were taken around by the lovely Anne Mette, business manager of silver who talked us through 100 years of Georg Jensen designs, illustrated by an impressive array of table settings, champagne bowls and silver dishes laid out in chronological order to illustrate how different designers had made their mark on the company. We saw the simple wooden cabinet where Georg Jensen would display his designs in the early days, making just a few pieces at a time to earn cash to buy the next batch of silver. His work was inspired by the arts and crafts movement with his trademark beaten finish and motifs inspired by fruits and flowers of the natural world.
As we there in the late afternoon, some of the silversmiths were still at work and it was fascinating to see the benches laid out with design sketches that they were working from and pick up pieces of dull metal shapes that would end up as an heirloom fit to grace any royal table. The large bowl being worked on could have passed for a battered old washing up bowl but would soon become a specially commissioned champagne bowl like those on display.
After Georg Jensen’s death in 1935, the company collaborated with top Scandinavian designers, bringing clean and simple designs such as the pitcher by Henning Koppel that goes by the affectionate nickname of ‘the pregnant duck’ or the Vivianna bangle watch by Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe that was recently spotted on the wrist of Lady Gaga. The daisy collection is held in particular affection as it is associated with the Danish Royal family and was worn by Queen Margrethe at her wedding.
Now the company is drawing on the archives and bringing out the old designs to reinvent them for a new audience. We saw the moonlight collection on display that uses the original Georg Jensen Art Nouveau designs, and the grape collection that has just been launched with a chunky bauble ring that all the girls were trying on, based on the original grape brooch and earring designs. You can read my post about the Georg Jensen Grape ring here.
We enjoyed some champagne while the CEO, Ulrik Garde Due told us about his plans to develop Georg Jensen as the leading Scandinavian luxury brand, with new jewellery designs to appeal to a younger, fashion conscious audience and co-ordinated lifestyle products for the home. He was part of the team that transformed Burberry from an upmarket purveyor of raincoats into a trendy fashion brand, so it sounded like the future was bright, with stores opening all over the Far East where they can’t get enough of luxury brands. I fear that the pitch was rather lost on most of the travel bloggers present, but as I once worked in the fashion industry for the English fashion brand, Jaeger, it was all great fun for me.
As I said, the tour was specially set up for us TBEX bloggers but if you’re passing through Copenhagen airport, do indulge in a trying on session at the Georg Jensen store in the airport or in any city where they happen to have a shop. Say that Heather on her Travels sent you!
More fun things from Copenhagen