Jens Quistgaard’s Picnic
by Barbara Schwab·
You’ve heard of Teddy Bear Picnics well I’m imagining serving up a Jens Quistgaard’s Picnic.
Jens Quistgaard teak ice bucket. Size: 9”dia. x 19.5”h
Jens Quistgaard, a Danish designer and sculptor, is best known for his tableware (in this case picnicware) designs manufactured by Dansk from 1954 through the following 30 years and some continue to be produced today.
Jens Quistgaard is synonymous with Dansk which was founded in 1954 by Ted Nierenberg, an American entrepreneur and engineer. He sought out Mr. Quistgaard and persuaded him that his unique creations could be properly mass-produced, and Dansk was created. The company quickly became known for manufacturing sophisticated European styled objects and marketing them to the American consumer.
A turquoise "Kobenstyle" covered pot, designed by Jens Quistgaard for Dansk of Denmark. Source: Etsy
Jens Quistgaard was born in Denmark on April 23, 1919. His father was a well-known sculptor who provided his son’s only formal training. As a child, Jens made toys from the scraps of wood his father brought home. At 14 Jens began working with metals at his own anvil and forge given to him by his parents.
As a young man, Mr. Quistgaard served an apprenticeship to Georg Jensen, the well-known Danish silversmith. Jens early experiences of working with both wood and metal become important to his design style throughout his design career.
My observations are that Quistgaard’s designed pieces fall into 3 categories based on his use of materials: wood, metal, and wood and metal combined.
One of Dansk’s early lines was Quistgaard’s teak pepper mills. Source: Dwell
The wood pieces are very sculptural, they seem monumental at all scales and the beautiful qualities of the wood are embraced in the designs. Examples of the monumental qualities of his objects can be seen in oversize ice bucket and platters to the smaller but no less monumental peppermills. The beautiful proportions and seemingly endless variety of the peppermills are at the height of industrial design transcending to art. Needless to say they are very sought after and collected.
Cast iron candle holder designed by Jens Quisgaard for Dansk Designs, Ltd., 1955. Source: Liebe Moebel Haben
The metal pieces have a linear quality especially the handles on the enameled casserole dishes. The candleholders are very sculptural and nature inspired, and also have the imaginative variety of the peppermills only cast in metals. I think I may have to start a collection of Jens Quistgaard’s candleware as my research for this blog has led to my discovery of their beauty.
Left: Fjord flatware designed by Jens Quistgaard for Dansk and made in Germany. Source: 1st Dibs
The use of metal and wood combined I find most interesting and beautiful of the wide range of Jens Quistgaard objects. His playful use of scale translates from large to small objects. His furniture designs fascinates me, particularly the tapered ends on the rails that look much like the small wooden handled place setting.
The range and manipulation of scale in Jens Quistgaard designs and the duality of wood and metal make the objects unique creations of art while at the same time being mass produced, this availability has allowed the American consumer to own a piece of art for everyday use. A remarkable accomplishment.
Jens Quistgaard creations have provided us with a feast for all our senses. Enjoy the picnic.
Get 20% off all Jens Quistgaard items in our shop with coupon code "jens-20" at checkout.
Header picture at top: Setting up for the Jens Quistgaard picnic. From left to right: top row: bouquet of flowers; teak server; Cheese board has a checker board pattern in the raised center. Second row left: teak bread board #803; Danish chip and dip server; large round teak server. Bottom row: A large 21 inch bread board with a beautiful shape; add wine of your choice.