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Osman Can Yerebakan

‘Denmark’s best-selling designer’ Jens Quistgaard is honoured at 3 Days of Design

Display of Jens Quistgaard's wooden objects.

Form Portfolios presents an exhibition dedicated to Jens Quistgaard in Copenhagen during 3 Days of Design 2024 (12-14 June). During the city-wide design festival, ‘Jens Quistgaard: Around the Table’ occupies a storefront replicating the late Danish designer’s countryside studio right outside the city. Original furniture pieces, sketches, and objects are showcased in a domestic setting, underlying Quistgaard’s effortless vision for living with a simple yet noticeable aesthetic.

(Image credit: Sofie Hvitved)

Form Portfolios founder Mark Masiello landed on the idea of licensing design by historic and contemporary luminaries a decade ago during a trip with his father around Denmark. He managed to visit Hans Wegner’s studio outside of Copenhagen and came face-to-face with his drafting table and original sketches. 'I was holding his scaled model of a wishbone chair, which was very exciting,' he tells Wallpaper*.

The Providence and Copenhagen-based studio, which licenses and reproduces objects and furniture by seminal designers, stemmed from this transformative visit. Masiello, who had experience in music company acquisition, learned that licensing a designer’s work has similar royalty laws with reproducing a musician’s work. 'I decided to start the design industry version of a music publishing house,' he adds.

Jens Quistgaard at 3 Days of Design 2024

(Image credit: Sofie Hvitved)

Stig Guldberg, the author of the Phaidon monograph, Jens Quistgaard: The Sculpting Designer, owns most of the exhibited pieces and has helped the studio to orchestrate a feeling that is close to Quistgaard’s studio, where a window overlooks a green lawn that runs into the sea. The project follows the studio’s previous collaborations with the estates of the Eames, Jens Risom, Paul McCobb, or Bodil Kjær.

(Image credit: Sofie Hvitved)

Masiello is fascinated by Quistgaard’s legacy not only due to his success with American company Dansk, but also for how little he is celebrated in his home country. 'His legacy is too wedded to Dansk because he was so successful in America, but not so much in Denmark where he lived his whole life,' he says. The project’s goal at this stage is to 'raise awareness to his legacy', while in the near future, they plan to release reproductions of his most memorable pieces, such as sleek wooden chairs and the bulky pepper mills.

'He is probably the best-selling designer of his country because he sold millions of products with Dansk,' Masiello adds. The collaboration came out of an invitation from the designer’s daughter Henriette Quistgaard to help them carry her father’s legacy to a new phase with a broader understanding of his estate.

(Image credit: Sofie Hvitved)

Wood is the standout material in Quistgaard’s visual lexicon: smooth lines are joined by playful blends of aluminium and velvet fabrics. The material is also 'rooted' in Form Portfolio’s vision. 'We feel comfortable with wood because it connects us with nature,' Masiello says. Quistgaard’s ‘Stokke’ chair is a prime example of a striking juxtaposition of an inviting back and elegant arms and legs in different textures. He is also fascinated by Quistgaard’s whimsical touches to everyday objects: 'Who would think of designing a trivet as the cover of a pot?'

(Image credit: Sofie Hvitved)

A wall in the installation is dedicated to a large suite of pepper mills, which are among Quistgaard’s most recognisable designs. Varying in silhouette and height, the kitchen gadgets are lined up 'like toy soldiers', according to Masiello, who invites visitors to appreciate their 'sculptural quality'. He believes that the mills, of which the designer created hundreds in the 1960s, are a testament to his 'marrying utility with design'. Beneath two rows of wooden mills, an array of vases, bowls, and a trivet demonstrates the designer’s commitment to blurring the line between function and sculpture through a mastery in woodwork.

Today, many design lovers utilise one of his 4,000-plus creations at their homes, such as a salad bowl or an ice bucket, unaware of the name behind the object. 'It is flabbergasting that his name isn’t known enough, and this exhibition hopes to change that,' says Masiello.

Jens Quistgaard: Around the Table on view during 3 Days of Design 2024, until 14 June

Badstuestræde 17, 1st Floor
1209 Copenhagen

(Image credit: Sofie Hvitved)
(Image credit: Sofie Hvitved)
(Image credit: Sofie Hvitved)
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