Jens Harald Quistgaard (1919-2008) was a Danish sculptor and designer who became famous with his work for the American firm Dansk Designs. He worked there as head of Design for more than thirty years from 1954 to the beginning of the eighties. His tableware and kitchenware were produced and sold worldwide and soon became the symbol of Scandinavian modernism.
He grew up in a family of artists and therefore showed an interest for handicraft at an early age. His father Harald Quistgaard taught him Sculpture and he ended up studying drawing and silverwork at the Technical College in Copenhagen. The second world war, during which he became an active resistant, interrupted his studies.
He started making a living using many different means : portraits, ceramics, jewellery, reliefs and more. In 1954, his career really took off. He then designed a cutlery set (Fjord – picture 4) with a stainless steel blade and a wooden handle which had never been done before. The same year he designed the cast iron pan Anker-Line (picture 5) which was awarded a gold medal at the Milan Triennale. And last but not least, Ted Nierenberg an American businessman was travelling around Europe looking for young talent. He discovered the Fjord cutlery set in the Danish Museum of Art and Design. He was so impressed that he managed to convince Quistgaard to work with him in the United States. They founded Dansk Designs with Jens Quistgaard as chief designer. A year later the Kobenstyle series of colourful enameled kitchen ustensils (picture 3) was born.
Jens Quistgaard was extremely productive between the end of the fifties and the second half of the sixties : he then designed more than 4000 objects which combine utility and beauty both in the kitchen and on the table. Amongst them the cutlery set Toke (1958) , the Flamestone kitchen pans in stone (1958), his delightful Rare Woods collection of objects (picture 1) from 1961 or the Odin set in 1962 (picture 2)…
He also designed his partner’s villa, north of New York, down to the last detail at the end of the 1950s (bottom pictures).
At the time Dansk Designs had shops in Copenhagen, London and Stockholm and its products were sold & exhibited around the world (Tokyo, Berlin, Paris, Melbourne, Johannesburg…)
Jens Quistgaard left Dansk Designs at the beginning of the eighties to live in Rome where he stayed until 1993. He then moved back to Denmark where he kept on designing until he passed away in 2008.
You will be able to find all the pictures shown and their references on Pinterest here.