When the Danish Modernist designer Henning Koppel (1918–1981), known for his jewellery, timepieces and objects for the home, first presented his ‘1041’ dish in 1954, it was an undulating, uncompromising organic form made to commemorate Georg Jensen’s 50th anniversary. Being the exacting designer that he was, Copenhagen-born Koppel was ultimately dissatisfied with his own efforts and rejected the silver prototype, which he felt hadn’t adequately captured the precise proportions of his curved, sculptural vision.
And so the piece was relegated to an archive, never to be thought of again. That is, until a few years ago, when a conversation started between the brand’s senior vice president Nicholas Manville and the designer’s daughter, ceramic artist Hannah Koppel, about how best to celebrate what would’ve been her father’s 100th birthday in 2018. The soft lines and dynamic curves of the ‘1041’ made it feel timeless and worth reviving.
Within the company’s archives there wasn’t a lot of detailed information to go on – just a sketch with the vessel’s intended weight and a photograph of the prototype from 1954. Without formal specifications, Georg Jensen’s skilled silversmiths had to begin what they called a ‘forensic design’ process, which involved employing contemporary 3D modelling techniques along with plenty of research.
The result is a remake of the ‘1041’ as an ultra-limited-edition art piece. Hand-hammered from a 12-kilogram sheet of precious fine silver, which is softer, purer and easier to shape than sterling silver, the piece is then hand-polished to a silky matt finish – one of Koppel’s design signatures – in a process that can take up to six months. The finished object weighs in at an impressive 7.7 kilograms, with an equally weighty price tag of £112,000.
Koppel created a wealth of other works for Georg Jensen during his illustrious career, from jewellery to tableware – many, including perhaps his most iconic, the ‘HK Pitcher’ (1952), with its beautifully fluid form, are in production in stainless steel, making them rather more accessibly priced. georgjensen.com
This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration July 2019