Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Gotta Dansk - Fjord Flatware by Jens Quistgaard for Dansk

Dansk ad for flatware, 1961
A few months ago, I was lucky enough to acquire a large set of Dansk flatware in the Fjord pattern.  It came through a client I had worked with on a big consignment while I was at Christie’s.  When she asked what I was up to since I left the auction world, I told her I was buying and selling stuff, mostly mid-century modern and off-handedly mentioned Dansk.  She said, ‘Oh, my mom has some of that stuff down in the basement.  Would you like it?’  So I bought myself some Fjord flatware, along with a number of other Dansk pieces.
Fjord flatware in teak and stainless steel by Dansk
Fjord was the reason Dansk came into being.  To briefly summarize:  In 1953, Jens Quistgaard hand forged a set of stainless steel flatware with teak handles, a combination widely regarded as beautiful, but difficult to manufacture.  Denmark’s Kunsthandwaerkmuseet quickly purchased the original set, where it was discovered by American businessman Ted Nierenberg and his wife, Martha.  Nierenberg immediately sought out Quistgaard and convinced him that the flatware could be put into large-scale production.  Thus began their partnership and Dansk was born.  

Note the flat edge around the bowl of the spoon
I think designing flatware is a funny thing--so much depends on minute measurements and there aren’t a whole lot of other objects that need to account for how they will feel in your mouth.  Some flatware can look great, but when you use it, it’s just wrong.  The handle doesn’t fit your hand quite right, the spoon is a weird shape in your mouth or the weight isn’t balanced.  Quistgaard’s flatware does everything just right--the handles of Fjord are not perfectly round, but slightly ovoid which better fits your grip.  The business ends of forks and spoons taper just enough and are not too broad or deeply bowled for comfort.
Steel core visible at the end of the teak handle
So yes, I’m pretty excited about my Fjord.  It’s a modern classic, even MoMA thinks so!  The whole set is still sitting out on my counter so I can look at it.  No plans to sell it yet, I’m actually looking for more pieces!
Fjord serving pieces
Serving pieces?  Check.
Dansk Fjord serving spoon in its original box
Original boxes?  Check.

You’d think I might have enough Dansk flatware, but no, I have gotten more.  This set is in the ‘Fairwind’ pattern.  I don’t know a lot about it (still looking for product catalogues!), such as when it was designed, but it is similar in some ways to Fjord, particularly the shape of the tines and bowls and the ridge line at the center.
Dansk Fairwind stainless steel flatware

Dansk Fairwind stainless steel dinner fork, made in Germany
Detail of Fairwind fork

Early four duck mark, made in Germany

Fairwind and Fjord tablespoons
Early Dansk flatware was made in Germany, then production moved to Denmark and Finland, and later to Korea, Japan and China.  General consensus among collectors seems to be that earlier European-made pieces are the more desirable.

There are tons of other patterns of note--Odin, Variations, Tjorn (in sterling silver)--I will keep my eyes peeled for them in my travels...

Next time:  candlesticks!

See my earlier posts on Dansk Kobenstyle here and teak wares here

I have some Fjord and other Dansk listed in my shop--check it out here.

© All text and images are copyright of Jeni Sandberg


  1. Lucky you! I would like to buy a set in the Fjord pattern soon. Thank you so much for the informative blog in Dansk flatware...BEAUTIFUL!

  2. Hi Jeni,

    So happy to have found this page! Looking for a replacement of Dansk Fairwind pattern Salad Serving Solid Spoon. It was my aunt's set left to my sister and "someone" borrowed it and we can't locate the person or the spoon. Would love to find it or a replacement. I'll keep watching your site and blog.


    1. Thanks for stopping by, Roberta, and aloha to you, too. Sorry to hear of the loss of your spoon, the same has happened to many of us. As I'm sure you are discovering, serving pieces in the Fairwind pattern are very tough to come by! If you want to be in touch with me and provide your contact info, I can let you know if I find the right piece for you. And if you're in Hawaii, I might just deliver it in person! Best, Jeni