A Royal Design

Sigvard Bernadotte, a son of the crown prince of Sweden, was the first non-Danish designer to be hired at Georg Jensen. He had nearly no experience designing actual wares but had studied at the School of Decorative Arts in Stockholm. He was brought on in 1930 to invigorate the Jensen brand — as well as for the networking opportunities of having a member of a royal family on staff. 

Bernadotte quickly proved his talents as a designer, creating pieces that were a departure for Jensen and drew from Swedish design motifs — his designs were streamlined and geometric, with little decoration, and employed  highly polished surfaces, as opposed to the hand-hammered finish Jensen was known for. 

A. Hostrup Pedersen (right), Sigvard Bernadotte (left) and his sister, the Crown Princes
Ingrid in 1938. Georg Jensen Sølvsmedie, Gennem Fyrretyve Aar, 1904-1944.

His designs ushered in an era of Functionalism and were also key in helping Jensen reach the American market, who admired the elegance and restrained sophistication of Bernadotte's designs. This silverware design, as well as other works of his, were featured at the Georg Jensen booth at the New York World's Fair in 1939. In this era of his career, he was creating less severe designs than in the early 1930s, as noted by the decorative ribbing and fluid forms.

Installation view of the Georg Jensen display at the New York World's fair, 1939.
George Jensen, Fisher, 2018.

The first years of silver designing were a struggle with the material. An evolution away from the drawing board sketches, away from plans made with the compass and the T-square, and towards a more sculptural form.

Sigvard Bernadotte

Sigvard Bernadotte 1907–2002

Sigvard Bernadotte was one of Sweden’s most renowned designers, creating everything from tableware, and everyday objects to patterns and carpets. The second son of King Gustav VI Adolf of Sweden, Sigvard Bernadotte was born a prince, though he lost his royal status in 1934 when he married a commoner.

Bernadotte got his design career start as an apprentice under Olle Hjortzberg then he went on to design silver for Georg Jensen and movie sets for MGM. In 1950, in collaboration with Acton Bjørn, he opened up his first industrial design studio, Bernadotte and Bjørn. Bernadotte’s designs are known for being stylish and functional and today he is fondly remembered as the Prince of Industrial Design.

Auction Results Sigvard Bernadotte