Georg Jensen - Henning Koppel Pitcher, 1952.

Georg Jensen  Henning Koppel Pitcher, 1952.

A friend of mine James Murray, Vice President of Design & Creative at Simon Pearce, just returned from working with Georg Jensen, the Danish Designers & Silversmiths. According to James “it’s amazing to see the silver smiths… they spend 3 months making a Henning Koppel pitcher out of silver”.… So craft isn’t dead at least not in Copenhagen, Denmark, it’s alive and well and thriving. There is a certain amount of love that is lavished on objects that take three months to make. Love that is evident in both the form the object takes and the humanity that we feel when we touch something that has been so carefully crafted.

James commented further “It’s was great to see ‘somewhere in the world’ people still building something very refined by hand…that starts out as a sculptural form by the designer…and is then crafted by someone without machines…the blend of humanistic form and function…”

The Henning Koppel Pitcher makes everyone sit up and take notice when water cascades from the spout into a glass. It makes you think about the water and how the pitchers sides are transformed by its iciness. The color changes and the condensation slowly flows over the beautiful curved surfaces. Water becomes more important because of Henning Koppel’s exquisite form. Maybe we even respect the water just a little more and begin to understand its life sustaining properties.

James says “Henning Koppel purposefully wanted to bring modern expressive sculpture into the Georg Jensen design language.” Koppel’s work for Georg Jensen was very organic and inspired by the art of Alexander Calder, Jean Arp and Constantin Brancusi. Many of his designs were first made in clay, which transcends drawings and brings sculpture to the workshop. The pitcher shares many qualities with Brancusi’s Bird in Space.

In Koppel’s own words, “Functionalism has nothing to do with the art of forming silver”.

Georg Jensen Hand tools.

Georg Jensen Hand tools.

“Hand tools that are used to shape Georg Jensen forms. The archival drawings all have indications of which tools to use…and the tools are kept in amazing order…” James Murray

James says that the Georg Jensen workshop…”it’s like Pratt. The Pratt analogy is starting with plaster forms and studies; and beautiful drawings that lead to prototypes and then when the craftspeople are making the pieces they don’t stray far from the original intent which is a bit different from the compromises of mass production.” The Pratt Industrial Design department teaches three-dimensional design in a sculptural way that melds the hand to mind though a series of exercises.

I’m interpreting here but I think he’s also saying the workshops remind him of a an atmosphere where people are working intently, trying to do their best, quietly and confidently bringing something to life.  Is it this mystery of bringing something to life that intrigues us all about craft?


Maybe craft is about love or loving?

#DesignMysteriesSeries [#5]

Design Mysteries Series
Bruce Hannah 2017©