Design & Decoration S02 ep10 : Ulrich Garde, Due Georg Jensen, [Denmark]
Interview with Ulrich Garde
Founded in Denmark in 1904, Georg Jensen's jewellery and watches have always represented uncompromising craftsmanship combined with timeless design. Its pure, elegant design style is favoured by millions around the world and it is often quoted as one of Scandinavia's most recognised luxury brands.
Jensen: George Jensen is the oldest Scandinavian … company obviously started more than 100
years ago in the silver business, so the origin of … is Mr George Jensen who actually was a
sculpturer but who then started to do silver and who opened this wonderful silver smithing in
Copenhagen in 1904.
Jensen: Silver smithing originally and then he went into jewellery into watches, and after the
second World War when silver was very difficult to get deliveries of, he started to work with
stainless steel and that’s when our living collection which is stainless steel started, still in very
Scandinavian design, organic shapes, and that we have kept alive also so we have a wonderful
business in stainless steel as well as silver.
Jensen: I started in … retail more than 15 years ago.
This is in Denmark?
Jensen: No, this was abroad actually so I worked in Japan, in Asia, in New York for four …
companies mainly French and English.
Jensen: I started with … working for Celine and then I joined 10 years ago Burberry and was part
of the team who revamped Burberry. Great now to use all that experience for a Danish company.
Jensen: Very important is always to be true to your roots and that is what is a thrill for me to have
an office in Copenhagen where I am literally sitting between two floors below me there is the
silver smithing and above us is a wonderful archive where we have you know this richness of
incredible design from 100 years and just going into the archives and working with the
craftsmanship which we own in silver and then take it into the new century in a contemporary way.
Jensen: One of the strengths about Scandinavian design is very often our design is timeless so you
will find pieces designed 40, 50, 60 years ago which is as contemporary as when they originally
were made. But we also have to mix it and blend into new designs. It will be a balancing act.
Jensen: I’ve been on the Board of the Royal Copenhagen for four years and it’s the same …
company who own George Jensen so we, it was kind of a nice natural evolution to go on full time
and help make these companies too.
Jensen: Royal Copenhagen is a wonderful company also, we have a very rich history. It has its
limits because of the culture there. Whereas George Jensen can go in and be a much broader
lifestyle brand because we work in so many different product areas.
Jensen: The focus had very much been on jewellery and watches and that’s why I’m mentioning
going back to the roots because I think we have to remember where we are coming from, bring
back life into silver, to stainless steel, and make sure that we get the right product mix so not only
for with the jewellery and watches but also get the other product areas back and bring them to life
Jensen: I don’t think it’s difficult for us because we are really having a niche business which
makes us very different from everybody else and when we go out and talk to partners and you
know we already have an important network of stores, 105 around the world, we are just going to
build on that and there is room for Scandinavian … design around the world and you know we can
do it, so it is a niche business but we still have a huge opportunity for growth.
Jensen: Speed is going to be the key to our success and that is very much part of the culture which
we have to twist a bit with George Jensen just to get the speed up in terms of getting newer
products more often on the shelves. Product cycle including supply chain and the way we develop
new products has to go through a whole different speed to be competitive.
Jensen: We have a wonderful group of Scandinavian designers who work with us and who is part
of our family but we also work with international designers and I think it’s important to broaden up
and keep inviting new designers in to come work with George Jensen, as long as they respect the
Scandinavian design expression. That is very important, in everything we do we have to respect
that, specific design expression which we stand for.
Jensen: The key to what we are doing is quality then very often organic shapes which is part of the
Scandinavian design, it’s that simplicity mixed with an elegant expression which is important and
then often you have a functionality element also which is important. We like the right balance of
things, looking beautiful, but also being functional.
Jensen: We have a wonderful product launch which is actually happening today, worldwide where
we are relaunching the daisy flower which is the symbol of our country and this was originally
worn by the Queen when she got married and she got it, the first day she got it when she was born,
so again, beautiful history, we have taken that daisy flower back, brought it to life in a more
fashionable way so we will find it now for all the season in different colours, you will find it in
different materials, in both gold and silver, mixed with diamonds so a good example of how we are
taking an icon of the brand and twisting it and bringing it back to life again.
Jensen: The jewellery is kept fully precious.
Why is that?
Jensen: I think it’s important to be very consistent in what we are doing and make sure that the
consumer understands what we stand for so at this point we want to keep our all our jewellery
precious as well as making sure that our silver stays sterling silver and not silver plated.
Jensen: Whenever I travel around the world you get a lot of different perceptions of first of all
where is Denmark, we are a fairly small country, and you also get some confusion whether
Denmark is a city in Germany or whether it’s actually a country by itself, but we’ll fix that
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Ulrich Garde, Due Georg Jensen, Denmark