Scandinavian Modernism

Scandinavian Modernism


Although the 1950's was the decade of design glitz , it had the opposite effect in Scandinavia where a new design esthetic emerged which had a great impact on all areas of design including jewellery. Silver was the preferred metal of choice as Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark had centuries old tradition of silversmithing, and silver was malleable and easy to work with. This allowed designers to mould jewellery into strong angles and abstract shapes. There were political aspects involved too, as silver was cheaper than other metals. This more democratic choice of material and the subsequent pricing allowed the jewellery to be available to a wider customer base.


The Scandinavian modernist design aesthetic stemmed form the legacy of the German Bauhaus School, but with a brand new twist. Designers such as Nanna Ditzel, Hans Hansen, and Bent Gabrielsen ignored the machine age excesses and major glamour of the Art Deco that Bauhaus had provoked in jewellery design, in favour of a purer, simplistic style. The new style had much in common with the "Contemporary"style which emerged in Britain at the Festival of Britain ( a large exhibition on London's south bank). This style was seen to its greatest effect in the textiles and furniture of Robin and Lucienne Day .

Brooch by Ditzel                                                       Silver Georg Jensen Ring


Scandinavian designers felt that design should eminate from small scale specialist workshops where man had mastery over machine. In particular the work of Georg Jensen influenced a new generation of young jewellery designers in the 1950's and the fashion for the new Scandinavian style led to rival companies from outside Oslo or Helsinki producing their own faux Scandinavian lines such as Viking Craft of New York, Danecraft of Rhode Island and William Spratling's work for Taxco in Mexico

Georg Jensen silver modernist brooch

Related reading: Scandinavian Jewellery History

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