Thursday, August 23, 2012

Viking Invasion - Dansk Teak Viking Bowls by Jens Quistgaard

Jens Quistgaard was Danish and I get the feeling that he really liked being a Dane.  He was promoted at ‘The Bearded Dane of Dansk’ and lived on a small island in Denmark, never moving to the US despite working for an American company for decades.  Behold his 1958 tribute to Danish history, the Viking bowl.
Danish designers produced many different Viking figures in wood, such as these by Jacob Jensen, circa 1958.  From Modern50.
Viking chic was part of the upsurge in Scandinavian design in the 1950‘s and ‘60s.  Designers in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark produced modern design, but they also looked back to their own rich histories for inspiration and drew upon traditional crafts and folk art to create new products.  The same concept was prevalent here in the US--yes, the 1950s and ‘60s produced modern icons like Eames chairs, but there was also a strong interest in early American design and the quaintness of things like Pennsylvania Dutch culture.
The clever Quistgaard managed to unite the traditional and modern all in one piece.  The simple staved teak bowl is given two prominent handles on either side, reminiscent of the horned helmet of ancient Vikings.
The wider bowl has a curved bottom edge, where the taller bowl has a flat edge. 
This wide bowl one has the four duck mark, and I have another with the earlier ‘Staved Teak’ mark. 
The lower, broader bowl is model 830 and seems to have been the earlier design, as it alone appears in a 1959 Dansk catalogue (and there termed a Viking Bowl).
The taller bowl presumably came along soon after the introduction of the original.  A very similar bowl was also made in muteneye slightly later as part of the Rare Woods line.
The taller bowl was actually a gift to me from my awesome neighbor, Chris.  He found it at a yard sale just around the corner!  I hang my head in shame that I was not clever enough to find it, but grateful that Chris has been successfully brainwashed as to the glory of Dansk.  Thanks again, Chris!
Dansk ad, 1959
Both of these bowls relate in form to the iconic teak ice bucket designed by Quistgaard, which has similarly curved supports joined by a carrying handle.  This piece is came in two sizes and is positively ubiquitous, but strangely, not one that tugs at my heart.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a Dansk ice bucket (and yes, there will be a post on those soon).  Maybe I just need to jump in and buy one to appreciate the splendor…

More next time...

Check out my other posts on Dansk--teak, candlesticks, Kobenstyle, flatware, magazine rack, Festivaal.

I've listed the larger Viking bowl and other Dansk pieces in my shop--see what's in stock here

© All text and images are copyright of Jeni Sandberg

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