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Furniture-making and silverware were the greatest assets when Danish design was launched on the international scene after World War II. Danish jewelry became world-leading in the 1950s thanks to well-known architects and designers like Nanna Ditzel and George Jensen. During the 1960s, the international revitalization of artistic jewelry was particularly felt in Denmark. One of the best expressions of this movement is seen in the jewelry made by firm Hans Hansen.
Hans Hansen founded his studio in silversmith-town Kolding in 1906. Initially they made only flatware, but in the 1930s the firm begun to make sleek, modernist silver jewelry under the direction of Hans Hansen’s son, Karl Gustav Hansen. Karl Gustav was a true talent in the trade, and by 20 he had already gained national recognition by receiving a silver medal, a Danish distinction of excellence, for his work in silver. Karl Gustav Hansen went on to sculpture studies and travels through Europe during a time of much political turbulence between the wars. Both influences can be seen in his jewelry, with its sculptural and daring qualities.
After his father died in 1940, Karl Gustav, at the time only 25, took over the firm. He started by creating a collection of jewelry called “Future”, setting the tome for Hansen modernism during the decades to follow. Hansen employed several up-and-coming silversmiths, among others Bent Gabrielsen and Bent Knudsen, who both went on to become highly successful modernists in their own right in the 1960s.
After the war in 1945, Karl Gustav went traveling again, but this time to the United States. Hansen reconnected with his father’s old contacts, and after a successful business trip, he flew home in the first trans-Atlantic passenger flight. During the 1960s, Hans Hansen expanded its business, and by the 1970s, Karl Gustav Hansen collaborated with sculptors such as Henry Moore and Lynn Chadwick. In the 1980s the times caught up with Hansen, and the type of labor-intensive quality art-jewelry produced by the firm was deemed un-economic. In 1992, Hans Hansen reluctantly merged with the larger consortium Georg Jensen.