Georg Jensen was born in 1866, the seventh child of a knife grinder from Radvaad, Denmark. As a teen he trained to be a goldsmith in Copenhagen, then enrolled in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts to study sculpture. Upon graduating he was disgusted by the Industrial Age and its tactics of mass production so he “decided to devote his art to making beautiful objects of practical use.” (jensilver.com) He reapplied his skills to the metalwork trade, this time as a silversmith under Mogens Baillin. Eventually, in 1904, he opened up his own tiny studio in downtown Copenhagen.
With the freedom, at last, to do things his own way, Jensen’s creative aplomb permanently reshaped the language of sterling silver design. His unique products were an almost instant international success. Check out these examples from the online catalogue of Nelson & Nelson Antiques.
“Jensen's sensibility reflected a movement that was going on all around him. In England it was called Arts and Crafts, in France Art Nouveau, in Germany Jugendstil and in Denmark skonvirk.” (ibid)
In other circles, it simply became known as The Georg Jensen Style and its effects are apparent.
Looking back on early 20th Century trends it's as though Jensen arrived from the future to dictate the course of decorative design. He frequently collaborated with other designers, most notably Johan Rohde, and openly encouraged them to express their ideas and challenge the status quo. Soon the business expanded to include outlets in New York, London, Paris, Stockholm, and Berlin.
Although his business suffered throughout the 1920s on account of the economic tensions in war-torn Europe, Georg Jensen’s creations continued to dazzle the art world. He won the Grand Prix at the Paris World's Fair in 1925, then again at the Barcelona World’s Fair in 1929, and then again one final time at the World’s Fair in Brussels shortly before his death in 1935. Today, his spirit lives on in his eponymous company and the artists who continue to use his creative principles.