We Covet: Henning Koppel

I was in New York City last week for some rest and relaxation. And since poking around thrift shops is my favourite way to de-stress, I popped into the Chelsea Goodwill and started digging through bins of flatware. And although I didn’t discover a Fabergé Egg or rare Picasso print, I was just as delighted to come across a lone fork designed by the Danish designer Henning Koppel for Georg Jensen.

The fork was part of a set called, appropriately, New York (pictured above). Created in 1963 for New York's World Fair, it’s an excellent example of the Koppel aesthetic because while it looks quite simple on first glance, closer inspection reveals subtle details such as a brushed finish and carefully curved lines that required skilled craftsmanship to carry out.

Unlike many modernist designers, Koppel considered himself an anti-functionalist. Which is not to say that his housewares, lighting and jewellery designs aren’t useful, it’s just that for him organic expression trumped mass production. By the way, this isn't my first Koppel find — I picked up the ring pictured below at a thrift shop in Toronto earlier this year.

Born in Copenhagen in 1914, Koppel trained as a painter and a sculptor. Koppel’s family was Jewish and because Denmark was occupied by Germany during WWII, he moved to Sweden. To make ends meet while living in exile, he often traded art for food. He also sold a group of paintings to a pewter shop that offered to teach him how to work with metal. Here he started making small jewellery items that caught the eye of Anders Holstrup-Pedersen, the head of Georg Jensen’s jewellery department.

After the war, Koppel returned to Denmark, where he later joined Georg Jensen’ hollowware division, creating space age candelabras, pitchers and utensils that were a bold break from Jensen’s art nouveau traditions. He then moved into cutlery, where he also broke with tradition by working with non-silver materials such as stainless steel and wood. His only mass-produced for Orskov was made of melamine.


And while his work was often copied, his attention to detail wasn't as replicable. Which is why that despite the fact that many of his designs are still in production, original pieces are so collectible today. Until his death in 1981, Koppel continued to experiment with different mediums to bring his concepts to life. He designed distinctive clocks and watches for Jensen, delicate porcelain plates for Royal Copenhagen, glass wares for Kastrup and Orrefors and lamps (like the 1970s-era Bubi pendant pictured above) for Louis Poulsen.


Art for All at the Textile Museum of Canada

Last week we finally got a chance to check out the Textile Museum of Canada's latest exhibition, Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol. The show features a captivating collection of fabrics and fashions designed by some of the most versatile artists from the modern movement. We're talking big names such as Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, Barabra Hepworth and Sonia Delaunay.

Artists of the early 20th century were keen to experiment with new mediums and functions. This means that most of the monsters of modernism were not afraid to work with commercially and mass produced materials such as fabrics. What's wonderful about this show is that it lets us rediscover these artists with new eyes.

For example, how inspiring is it to see Andy Warhol's playful butterflies printed on a huge bolt of fabric (as pictured above)? Or Picasso's primitive fish swimming across a dress by American designer Claire McCardell (below)

Not only did we get an education in the Modernist esthetic, we were also inspired by the idea that art is something that should be enjoyed every day — that even utilitarian items (like the Barbara Hepworth designed linen placemat pictured below) can bring more beauty into our lives. And that art needn;t be precious.

Of course, we fell into a bit of an internet K-Hole after the show, scouring eBay and Etsy for Picasso scarves and John Piper curtains hoping to recreate our visit to the Textile Museum.



Best of Etsy: Man Handmade

,[1. Jens Quistgaard for Dansk teak ice bucket from The Lapis Lazuli; 2. Liberty fabric bow tie from Speicher Bow Toe Company; 3. Teak armchair from BBespoke; 4. Spa Kit from Elucx; 5. Hidden message tie bar from Tag You're It Jewelry; 6. Three pocket leather card holder from Grams28; 7. Vintage Panama hat from Pinkys of Saratoga; 8. Car play mat shirt from Bkykid.]

Father's Day is this Sunday and we wanted to salute the men in our lives with a comprehensive Etsy gift guide. And although it might be a little late to shop online, we hope our collection of cool things for cool dudes will serve as year-round gift-giving inspiration.

We also like to remind you that Covet Garden has a whole slew of Etsy Treasuries to introduce you to great handmade and vintage vendors or just sort through collections by category. It's like having the Covet Garden team act as your personal shopper!


Alexander the Great

[Alexander Girard by Kiera Coffee and Todd Oldham]

I have long been a fan of American designer Alexander Girard's typography, his iconic sun graphics and his whimsical wooden people. But it wasn't until I came across this beautiful book did I understand the entire breadth of his design work.

This 672 page tome published by Ammo Books covers all aspects of his design career from brand identity work to fabric design and furniture design to interiors. Co-author and Girard fan Todd Oldham went through the entire Girard archive to uncover designs that had never before been published. 

This book now lives on my coffee table in the living room and is a source of delight and inspiration every time I go through it and discover something amazing and new to me about this prolific and versatile mid-20th century designer.

The book is a bit of an investment, but is well worth the cost because it is such an exhaustive collection of his work. The news gets better: Ammo is publishing a popular edition of the book in a smaller size this fall and it can be pre-ordered here for a fraction of the price.


Issue 56 Is Now Live!

[photo by Marina Dempster]

Welcome to the June/July issue of Covet Garden. There is plenty of summer lovin' in Sara, Daniel and Adelaide's Roncesvalles Village home. The family took an earth-friendly approach to decoraton when they moved in, opting to work with their home's features and adapting their favourite furnishings rather than doing a big reno. We think you'll love the way they brought it all together.

Also in this issue: Sara shares her simply delicious salads; we get inspired by wonderful woven objects and our take on Dan's urban country gentleman style.