George Jensen factory and Constantin Wortmann designer
Prof. Francesco Carell
Georg Arthur Jensen (31 August 1866 in Rådvad – 2 October 1935 in Copenhagen) was a Danish silversmith and founder of Georg Jensen factory.
In 1884 he became a journeyman and in 1887 he enrolled at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi), where he studied sculpture with Theobald Stein. He graduated in 1892 and began exhibiting his work. After graduation he started studying ceramics with Joachim Petersen.
Although his ceramic sculptures was well received, making a living as a fine artist proved difficult and he turned his hand to the applied arts. First as a modeller at the Bing & Grøndahl porcelain factory and, beginning in 1898, with a small pottery workshop he founded in partnership with Christian Petersen. Again the work was well received, but the sales were not strong enough to support Jensen, now a widower, and his two young sons.
Jensen made his first piece of jewelry in 1899, a silver and silver and gilt “Adam and Eve” belt buckle. In 1901, Jensen abandoned ceramics and began again as a silversmith and designer with the master, Mogens Ballin. This led Jensen to make a landmark decision, when in 1904, he risked what small capital he had and opened his own little silversmithy at 36 Bredgade in Copenhagen.
Jensen’s training in metalsmithing along with his education in the fine arts allowed him to combine the two disciplines and revive the tradition of the artist craftsman. Soon, the beauty and quality of his Art Nouveau creations caught the eye of the public and his success was assured. The Copenhagen quarters were greatly expanded and before the end of the 1920s, Jensen had opened retail in Berlin (1909), London (1921), and New York City (1924).
During his lifetime, Jensen’s work was collected by museums including the Danish Museum for Decorative Art and the Museum Folkwang. When he was twenty Georg Jensen signed his first sculpture with “My Father” (1887). In 1894 he used the markings GJ as brandsign and from 1899 he often used GJ. In most cases the year was put next to the brand sign.
Constantin Wortmann studied industrial design in Hamburg and Munich. In 1998, still being a student he co-founded the design studio Büro für Form. The Design studio was founded with a special focus on industrial, interior and lighting design and accessories for upmarket manufactures. The reed thread of the design is the perfect mixture of organicshape and geometric elements, sometimes with a bit of humor, playing with the viewers perception. “A product needs more than perfect function and ergonomics, a product needs some poetry!”
(Photo: couple of Cobra candlesticks by George Jensen, designed by Constantin Wortmann)