Designer Desire: Bent Gabrielsen

Mosaic of Bent Gabrielsen jewellery | H is for Home

Every week that goes by, I discover yet another brilliant Scandinavian jeweller. Today, it’s multi-award-winning Bent Gabrielsen (1928-2014).

In 1949 in Copenhagen, Gabrielsen completed his gold-smithing apprenticeship. He followed this with a 3-year course at the College of Jewelry, Silversmithing, and Professional Trade Design in the city. He went on immediately to work for Hans Hansen from 1953 as a jewellery designer where he remained until 1969, by which time he’d become responsible for the company’s entire output. After leaving the company, he set up in partnership with his wife under the name, ‘Gabrielsen’s Guldsmedie’.

When he won the Lunning Prize in 1964, Erik Bohr, the Chairman of the Committee commented:

Bent Gabrielsen’s jewelry carries absolute conviction as to its function; his handling of materials is so restrained and well considered that one feels this could hardly be otherwise. His jewelry is simple and clearly constructed, often with links connecting naturally with each other so that the complete piece makes up a beautiful whole. Every single detail of his things is worked out. There are no false effects. He does not take the easy way out.

Here’s a film giving an in-depth look at the maker’s life, work and ethos.

Find available examples of his work on eBay and Etsy.

Portrait of Bent Gabrielsencredit

Additional image credits:

1stDibs | Artnet

Designer Desire: Jorma Laine

Mosaic of Jorma Laine jewellery designs | H is for Home

I was doing a Google search recently for ‘Vintage Scandinavian jewellery’ (as you do!) and stumbled across the work of Jorma Laine – I’m now smitten!

Laine (1930-2002) was a Finnish jewellery designer who worked for Turun Hopea Oy, Kultateollisuus Ky, Kalevala Kory Oy and his own company, Silver-Laine.

He worked mainly in bronze and silver with the occasional use of semi-precious stones such as turquoise, tiger eye, unakite or nephrite. His style was abstract, Modernist – almost Brutalist – with Viking and tribal influences.

I’ve come across lots of stunning examples of his work but below is the only portrait of the man I could find. Perhaps it’s because he apparently spent the final years of his life living as a recluse in a log cabin in the forest of Finland.

As I said, his work is readily available and fairly affordable – from less than £50 for a bronze pendant. Try looking on Etsy and eBay if you’re interested.

Jorma Laine, jewellery designercredit

Additional image credits:

1st Dibs | Bukowskis

Designer Desire: René Lalique

Mosaic of René Lalique jewellery designs | H is for Home

Most widely known for his opalescent glassware – ranging from perfume bottles to vases – René Lalique (1860–1945) began his career as a jewellery designer.

I’m much more a fan of Art Deco than Art Nouveau jewellery, but Lalique’s exquisite designs are truly breathtaking. His pieces – hand-crafted from precious metals & stones, enamel, mother-of-pearl and, of course, glass – portray subjects taken from nature. He depicts insects such as butterflies, bees and dragonflies, birds, fruit, flowers and foliage.

If this post has whetted your vintage René Lalique jewellery appetite, there are lots of books on just that subject – I can’t afford to buy the real thing, so the colour photographs between the pages will have to suffice!

Portrait of René Laliquecredit

Additional image credits:

1st Dibs | Love is Speed | The Metrapolitan Museum of Art

Designer Desire: Björn Weckström

Mosaic of Björn Weckström designs | H is for Home

I just love chunky, modernist, almost brutalist Scandinavian jewellery and when I discovered the work of Björn Weckström it went straight into top spot on my wish list.

Weckström (born 1935) is a fine artist and sculptor but it is for his jewellery that he’s probably best known. His work is often inspired by ancient Greek mythology, nature and the landscapes of Lapland.

He’s a prolific maker – primarily for Finnish company, Lapponia – so examples of his work are readily available from outlets such as Bukowskis, eBay, Etsy. His pieces are mainly crafted from 18 carat gold, sterling silver, precious stones and pearls so they’re not going to be cheap. They’re individual, heirloom pieces – in my opinion, very much worth the investment.

A necklace entitled, ‘Planetoid Valleys’ and the ‘Darina’s Bracelet’, both designed by Weckström for Lapponia was worn by Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) in the closing scene in 1977’s Star Wars film.

Weckström has said of his work and the wearer’s relationship to it:

A piece of jewelry is a miniature sculpture with the human body in the background. When I first began in the early 1960s, I wanted to turn jewelry design into small-scale form of art and raise its profile on a par with that of modern sculpting. Naturally matt gold soon became my trademark. Wearers of my jewelry relate personally to it. Some think jewelry is art, others think it is an intriguing complement to their personality or a fascinating conversation piece. Some think that it is quite simply beautiful.

Björn Weckströmcredit

Additional image credits:

1st Dibs | Artnet

Bookmarks: Grete Prytz Kittelsen – The art of enamel design

'Grete Prytz Kittelsen' blog post banner

Grete Prytz Kittelsen - The art of enamel design book with a selection of Lotus enamelware

Grete Prytz Kittelsen – The Art of Enamel Design by Karianne Bjellå Gilje explores the work of one of our favourite product designers.

Grete Prytz Kittelsen - The art of enamel design book title page

It was written not only with Greta’s close cooperation, but with extensive contributions from her – in the form of interviews, added text, selection of images and so on. You really are getting to know the artist intimately.

portrait of Grete Prytz Kittelsen standing

Greta was one of the foremost Scandinavian designers of the Mid-century Modern era – in addition to which she also collaborated with many of the other great names from the period.

Grete Prytz Kittelsen-designed jewellery

She had “a thorough knowledge of materials, vast technical skill, independence and originality.”

red Grete Prytz Kittelsen-designed necklace

Her work has directly touched the daily lives of countless thousands with her ranges of beautiful yet practical kitchen & tableware.

green Grete Prytz Kittelsen-designed enamel tea set

She’s rightly praised for making good design accessible as she simplified the production process wherever possible, thus keeping retail prices affordable.

sculptural Grete Prytz Kittelsen-designed necklace

She’s immediately associated with the iconic Lotus cookware produced by Cathrineholm of Norway in the 1950s – ironically, the repeating leaf pattern of the Lotus range was the work of another designer – Arne Clausen.

selection of Cathrineholm Lotus enamelware

She was responsible for the form & colours of the range – and apparently preferred the enamel without the additional decoration.

Cathrineholm Lotus catalogue

Her range of products is vast – pots, pans, plates, cruets, bowls and cutlery.

Grete Prytz Kittelsen-designed salad bowl and servers

There are decorative objects too, such as candelabra & vases…

Grete Prytz Kittelsen-designed square plates

…and not forgetting the beautiful jewellery – we just love her jewellery!!

blue sculptural Grete Prytz Kittelsen-designed necklace

The book is very well written – comprehensive, entertaining and informative.

sculptural Grete Prytz Kittelsen-designed Cathrineholm bowls

It’s full of wonderful archive images, product advertisements & brochures.

Grete Prytz Kittelsen working in her studio

Also, fabulous photographs of her work – which is some feat as the beauty of enamel is very difficult to capture in print.

colourful Grete Prytz Kittelsen-designed bangles

The book concludes with a wonderful reference section including a fully illustrated catalogue of works and chronology.

Grete Prytz Kittelsen jewellery catalogue

It’s a must have book for anyone who shares our passion – or is not yet familiar with her work.

sculptural Grete Prytz Kittelsen-designed boomerang necklace

[Many thanks to W.W. Norton & Company for the review copy]