Designer Spotlight: Henning Koppel
A multi-medium Danish design icon of the Mid-Mentury Modern era.
WOOD • MELAMINE • SILVER • ENAMEL • BRASS • COPPER • BRONZE • PORCELAIN GOLD • PEWTER • GLASS • CAST IRON • PAINTING • STAINLESS STEEL • GRANITE • CLAY
Henning Koppel is without question one of the most well-known, productive and versatile designers of the 1950s and 60s from Denmark.
From the time he started working for the Georg Jensen studio in 1945 until his death in 1981 Henning Koppel produced what seems like a never-ending flood of groundbreaking and breathtaking designs.
MOST ICONIC DESIGNS INCLUDE
The ‘Pregnant’ duck silver pitcher for Georg Jensen
The Koppel 'Frog' and 'Duck' Figures, made in silver for many functions
The Splash-series of silver jewellery: Brooches, Bracelets, Earrings for Georg Jensen
The Petronella Oil Lamp for Louis Poulsen
His work for Georg Jensen is undoubtedly what he is most famous and well-known for, but he also worked closely with a number of other famous Danish and international companies. These include Bing & Grøndahl, Orrefors, Ørskov and many more - all listed in a comprehensive overview below.
One especially admirable thing, which was somewhat unique for Henning Koppel is how versatile he was as a designer. Unlike other Danish designers like Finn Juhl and Per Lütken who stayed very much within their niche and worked with only one material mainly, Koppel worked with a hugely vast range of materials.
In his book Henning Koppel, Viggo Sten Møller quoted Koppel as saying that "he found it inspiring to dabble in varying materials," which is undoubtedly why he constantly sought new challenges, which he found plenty of when switching mediums.
Some materials are more difficult than others. He worked with Orrefors and Holmegaard (previously Kastrup Glasværk until 1977) on glass projects. These are among some of the lesser-known Koppel-designs, because the results were not to Koppel's full satisfaction due to the limitations of the medium of glass, comparatively to for instance silver.
He worked on a glass series called Frederiksborg with Swedish Orrefors , which was never fulfilled. Some pieces do exist today.
AN OVERVIEW OF KOPPEL'S COLLABORATIONS
GEORG JENSEN • BING & GRØNDAHL • LOUIS POULSEN • TORBEN ØRSKOV • ORREFORS SVENSKT TENN • KASTRUP GLASVÆRK/HOLMEGAARD • KVETNY & SØNNER • TRIO OSLO
Though Henning Koppel designed shapes for many different materials within the Georg Jensen company, he sometimes sought outside the company for collaborations with other companies. This led to some very rare pieces due to limited production, and other very famous and widely owned designs that gained household-name status, such as the Petronella he designed for Louis Poulsen.
Henning Koppel produced many items of various materials for Georg Jensen - most notably silver, pewter, brass, and copper.
Though neither Koppel nor Georg Jensen as a company in general, produced many designs in copper, Koppel’s line of Taverna products, which consist of designs made in silver plated copper and exposed copper, became highly popular, and is very collectible today.
From our experience, this line is fairly vast. We keep coming across new items that we cannot find any information about online, because they are so scarce.
So while there are many designs, some were not produced in very large numbers.
The most well-known designs in the Taverna-line are:
- The pots and pans, which are fairly common.
- His tankards, or Masters Cup. These are very collectible today.
- The shot glasses, or schnapps glasses (pictured below) as they are known in Denmark, are extremely rarely up for sale today, and therefore highly collectible, and often quite expensive.
Other designs we have come across a few times include: chargers (we have found 3 versions), small salts, and small tapas-style serving bowls. These are all extremely rare, and we have only seen each when we have actually owned them – fully unable to find anything about them on the internet. All of these are completely in the same style as the rest of the Taverna items, but are not stamped HK, only the Georg Jensen logo.
Note: some taverna items like the pots and pans were produced in aluminium, and similarly some of the salts and bowls were produced with aluminium covering the inside, while others of the same design were silver plated on the inside.
Similarly to the Taverna pieces, we have also found some very rare designs in his brass-ware collection. More well-known are his coffee/tea set of coffee/tea-pot, sugar bowl and creamer, but lesser known is the larger bowl, and a larger version of the creamer, which potentially is not a creamer at all, but a small vessel for another purpose.
Many of Koppel's designs were produced in steel, and most of these items are still in vast production today, though some were discontinued and are rare. Most of his more precious designs, like items produced in finer metals with the exception of silver, are not in production today, which makes them very rare and sought after. Among discontinued items is a stainless steel Frog Paperweight (pictured further down). The shape is so special, so no wonder people love it.
Lesser known items, which are also very rare today include designs in melamine, wood, and gold (really just his silver designs in gold).
Though his pewter designs are very scarce, they are all made extremely luxuriously. Among these, a line of office accessories was produced, which was often combined with ebony. These include a ruler, a table bell, a candle snuffer, a magnifying glass and more. He also made some of these in silver/ebony versions. They are very special, and would make strong statements in any home decoration.
Top left: HK for GJ Pewter desk accessories, keepsake jar and open bowl.
Bottom right: The iconic Henning Koppel Frog, for the function of a paperweight.
He made numerous iconic designs while working for Georg Jensen, and almost all are still widely used today from his various cutlery lines (New York, Holiday, Strata), to his fine silver jewellery like the Splash series, some including enamel work.
For his work with Ørskov, Koppel branched out from his regular designs in more exclusive and expensive materials, to produce more contemporary and accessible designs in melamine. His line for Ørskov was discontinued some years ago, but production picked back up recently for some of the designs including the pitcher, the cups, and the bowls. The older and newer versions can be told apart by looking at the signature on the bottom.The old ones read “T. ØRSKOV. Φ HK DESIGN DENMARK”, the new ones read “ORSKOV Φ DESIGN HENNING KOPPEL”
Henning Koppel designed the iconic Danish oil lamp Petronella for the Danish lighting company Louis Poulsen. This lamp is still bought and sold today, even though oil lamps are slightly outdated. This is just a testament to the icon status it has reached. The lamp is widely popular especially in Danish homes. He also designed the ceiling lamp Bubi, which was discontinued many years ago, but has recently gained resurgence, and is sold widely. though in slightly different materials. Where the original was for instance brass and glass, the newer ones are a gold-look metal coating and glass. He also designed a wall clock, which is very simpel in design, and still widely used today.
BING & GRØNDAHL
Here Koppel’s designs were produced in porcelain, in line with B&G’s other products. His lines White Koppel, and Blue Koppel are widely known today, and still used in many modern homes. They are essentially the same, where Blue Koppel has an addition of blue painted patterns in broad brush strokes, some of which Koppel did himself, like a large serving platter/charger in the series - no two are the same, because Koppel painted them all by hand.
What made Henning Koppel so special and iconic was the variation he managed, working in so many different materials and colours, while keeping his expression so identifiable throughout. And in all this, he managed to produce high-design with a very Danish aesthetic, which is somehow perfectly suitable for anyone from the most meticulously decorated home, to the more casual home, both then and still today.
- Are you looking for a Henning Koppel design that we don't have on the site yet? Feel free to shoot us a message! We may just be working on that item, or able to procure it upon request.
SHOP OUR KOPPEL SELECTION HERE
References for you, if you're interested:
Henning Koppels verden by Niels-Jørgen Kaiser, GYLDENDAL 2000
Henning Koppel by Viggo Sten Møller, Rhodos 1965