Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Teak-y Party - Teak by Jens Quistgaard for Dansk

A few of my Dansk teak objects, designed by Jens Quistgaard

Jens Quistgaard was quite the man.  Witness his portrait in this 1961 Dansk ad:

Jens Harald Quistgaard, 1919-2008
He was often called ‘the bearded Dane’ in Dansk ads, where he was played up as the design genius behind the company’s products.  Artistic and European, he could give your home a proper modern look--chic, up to date, appropriately cosmopolitan.
Handled circular teak tray (with two Kaj Franck pitchers for Arabia)
Some collectors go for the colorful Købenstyle, but I am all about the teak.  The early teak pieces designed by Quistgaard have simple, beautiful lines.  They are constructed of staved teak--pieces of teak butt-joined and glued together like a barrel (does Quistgaard mean ‘cooper’ in Danish?).  Strong new glues were developed and the resulting bowls were touted as water tight.  A 1958 Dansk ad suggested that you should hurry to get your staved teak pieces, as quantities of these handcrafted objects were limited.
1958 Dansk ad
Well, I have taken that advice to heart and have been buying teak at breakneck speed these days.  I generally look for the earlier pieces made in Denmark.
Did Dansk really call this a gondola bowl, or is that just a popular term?
Early mark from the gondola-shaped bowl--the duck mark at the center is a bit faint
I am particularly fond of the so-called 'gondola' and 'canoe' bowls, two early models shaped like boats.  Many of the teak pieces are quite heavy, but both of these are thinned down to the point where they are relatively lightweight.
Dansk teak 'canoe' bowl

These two images give you a better sense of the size relationship of the two boat bowls
Another type of teak bowl produced in large quantities by Dansk was the salad bowl.  The serving bowl was sometimes available in two sizes and individual bowls and wooden servers were also sold.  You can see another great salad bowl form, the Viking bowl, here
This bowl has an oval opening and overhanging the rim is not flat, but slightly raised at the center
This bowl was available in two sizes--the larger seems a bit harder to find.
Oval teak bowl on the left and cavetto bowl on the right
Dansk produced a number of trays and other objects such as a great magazine rack and wonderful ice buckets.  You can read more about those here and here
Circular teak tray
I have multiples of some pieces, so I really should sell some (you can check out the Dansk pieces in my shop here), but I definitely want to keep a group of the better pieces for my deluxe private collection.  I’m still looking for cane and lacquer objects--you don’t see a lot of those around.  And I’m still looking for an early Dansk product catalogue to help sort out the different models and when they were produced--if you have any pre-1970 Dansk catalogues, please let me know!

1959 Dansk ad
Dansk’s Rare Wood line is a whole ‘nother ball of wax, as is the Festivaal line of lacquered wood.  And the flatware!  More on those another time.

You can check out Dansk offerings in my shop here.

© All text and images are copyright of Jeni Sandberg

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Just Dansk - Jens Quistgaard and Early Dansk Designs

Current obsession:  Dansk.  Specifically, early Dansk.  Let’s just say I’ve been buying a few pieces lately and leave it at that.
Dansk Købenstyle covered pot
The lid serves as a trivet
I’ve been trying to do some research on the early days of Dansk (yes, those are my geeky, academic roots showing) and let me tell you, it’s not easy out here in the sticks.  I never thought I’d say this, but New York Public Library, I miss you.  Bad.  All of your lost books, crazy homeless people and general annoyances aside, you are one heck of a research library.  I could really use you right now.   I just hate not being able to date objects more precisely and give them their real names--this stuff is not that old, it shouldn’t be this hard! 

Dansk ad for Købenstyle, 1960
The sources out there on early Dansk are slim, so if you have access to early (pre-1965) Dansk materials, let me know!  Eventually, I’ll get to a big library and search periodicals from the time--I know the info is out there, I just have to go dig.

Early 4-duck mark, made in Denmark
I did watch the interesting short documentary on Quistgaard by Stig Guldberg, made shortly before Q’s death in 2008.  It showed a titillating stash of drawings and other archival material--I wonder where this went?
The handle to this pan is wrapped is a heat-resistant material--it cleverly has more length on the top, where your thumb will be placed to balance the pan when being carried
These images show a few examples of Dansk Købenstyle cookware, which Dansk began producing in 1955. Quistgaard started his career designing pots and pans--pretty humble stuff, but he made these simple objects beautiful.  Every line is considered and function is paramount.  Pinpoint welding allowed for small connections at the join of the handle to the pot, resulting in a delicate look that still provided the necessary strength.   Early production was in Denmark, before moving to France in the mid 1960s.

Original paper label with care instruction on the interior of the pot
Later mark, minus the ducks, made in France
About the name Købenstyle--in Guldberg’s documetary, Quistgaard explained that this term combined ‘København’ (that’s the Danish name for Copenhagen) and ‘style’ to make ‘Købenstyle’. 

More to come on Dansk, the obsession grows stronger…teak, teak, teak...

You can read my posts about Dansk teak here and Fjord flatware here.

You can find some Dansk items for sale in my shop.  

© All text and images are copyright of Jeni Sandberg