Henning Koppel

DENMARK (1918–1981)
Henning Koppel is best known as one of the finest Danish designers of silver pitchers, vases and flatware, but he also earned acclaim for jewelry, glassware and ceramics. He did the majority of his work for Copenhagen-based Georg Jensen.

Koppel studied in the mid-1930s at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, showing a knack for quick sketching and sculpture, with a special talent for capturing the essence of his subjects. During World War II, as Nazi influence rose in Denmark, he and his young family fled to Stockholm along with many other Jewish Danes. There, Koppel designed his first jewelry for a local shop, drawing on his sculpture background.

The head of jewelry for Georg Jensen took notice, and upon returning to Denmark after the war, Koppel went to work there. Among his first pieces was the No. 88 bracelet (aka the “amoeba”), which can be found on collectible websites today. He expanded into hollowware (pitchers, bowls, coffee pots) while continuing to design necklaces, brooches and cufflinks. His work was at odds with the leading Danish design trend of the time, a brand of austere functionalism that rejected all ornamentation.

Koppel remained a sculptor at heart, joining like-minded fellow artists in pursuing the marriage of organic shapes and function. “Things should not be too insistently practical,” he remarked, “otherwise everything drowns in boredom.” A perfectionist endowed with superb drafting skills, Koppel relentlessly pursued the “perfect pitcher,” to the consternation of those charged with executing his designs. His commercial breakthrough came with pitcher No. 992, nicknamed the “pregnant duck” for its protruding girth and narrow neck.