The Essential Dansk Design
Martha and Ted Nierenberg, traveling from the USA to Europe 1954, were searching for a product to introduce to the American marketplace. Visiting the Kunsthandwaerkmuseet (truly a mouthful), now known as the Danish Museum of Art & Design the couple found their muse. It was an item that joined the elegance of stainless steel in marriage with the warmth of teak to create a special set of cutlery. It was the quotidian married to the exulted, the everyday item elevated to the status of a world-class museum piece. It was an inspiration. It was also the first product to be produced by Dansk Design.
The Nierenbergs tracked down the artist-designer. When they first suggested the partnership and proposed manufacturing the cutlery, Jens Quistgaard demurred. He insisted that the work had to be forged by hand, and not only that, it must be made a single piece at the time. The Nierenbergs were not to be dissuaded. They persisted. They also proved persuasive. The outcome was that Quistgaard became Dansk’s founding designer.
Starting out as a Garage Brand
Truly joining home and art, the Nierenbergs began to run Dansk out of the garage of their home in Great Neck, New York, by the end of 1954.
By the end of the same year, Nierenberg successfully placed Dansk Design products in stores around the USA. Four years later, Dansk Design was successfully creating and manufacturing home design, cookware, and tableware. Try this image. In 1958, an individual could rest upon a Dansk stool while preparing a recipe to be baked in a Dansk Stoneware Casserole. From the salt and pepper grinders flavoring the food to the flatware on the table: Dansk. After dinner, the magazine pulled from a Dansk teak magazine was also part of the Dansk family. That's successful home design!
By the early 1980s, Quistgaard had envisioned, and Dansk had created, over two thousand items for the kitchen, table, and home.
In 2011, Dansk Designs was simplified to Dansk and became a wholly owned subsidiary of Lenox, famous for fine china.
Recognizing an American-Dutch mid-century revolution in design when they saw it, The New York Times proved prescient in the 1958 piece, “Accessories Designed by Dane Proving Popular in US Homes: Jens Quistgaard, Son of Noted Sculptor a Born Craftsman.” Here they credited the designer with crafting “some of the most popular accessories found in American Homes.”
Dansk Cookware is made to bring out the best of what you bring to the table. Made of enameled steel, it's substantial enough to work beautifully in the kitchen, yet lightweight enough to move well from the stove to the dining room to the sink.
It feels good in the hand and rests easily upon the range. It also looks fantastic on the table, with its timeless modern/vintage style and pigment saturated colors that are so delicious you may want to repaint the kitchen to match your favorite pieces.
Whether you’re enjoying a comforting dish resting in the Dansk Casserole or fare for one in the Dansk Mini Casserette or simmering a sauce in the Dansk Mini Saucepan or making freshly-baked pastry with the Dansk Kobenstyle Rectangular Baker, there is something from Dansk that can touch your life in an authentic way.
Dansk began its inception in a European art museum of craft before coming to kitchens around the world. The signature Dansk Cookware is as easy on the eyes as it is useful to craft your cuisine.
Like the ingredients you use to fashion your favorite recipes, Dansk Cookware takes the elements of line, form, color, saturation, texture, creating a distinctive masterpiece to enhance the home. Form and function combine to make a piece that is made for your lifestyle: elegant, simple, practical, easy to maintain, and made to go the distance.
There is a pleasure to holding something that receives everyday use, and something that you can pass on and share. A well-designed and beautifully constructed object that performs exactly as advertised and exceeds expectations. A piece of moveable, useful craft/art that blurs the line between luxury and necessity.
It’s art that’s created for the intimacy of your home. It’s part of your lifestyle, touching your life, literally. In other words, it’s better if the items in your kitchen are working with you, rather than fighting to be free on the range. Yes, you can cook with dented pots and saucepans about to lose their plastic handles, but why would you want to?
The art of cuisine is about merging intention, ingredients, technique, and then utilizing the perfect implements to bring about the best from it all. Or put another way, if you use a quality saucepan, healthy ingredients, and have a vision of where you’d like the dish to take you, you will save yourself a quarter of an of scrubbing burnt gunk from out of the dents and scratches from of something that you’ve carted around since your dorm room days.
In a complex world, there's a purity to a beautifully constructed item that is handsome and well-made. The finer things in life become better with the patina of time and with use. This is what makes an heirloom piece that's enjoyed in the present moment.
The Fork at the Beginning of the Tale
What of the cutlery that began the story? Today, Dansk’s Fjord flatware continues to be a beloved best-seller.