1856 - 1935
Johan Rohde was the very first, and arguably, the most important design collaboration that Georg Jensen made. It was this first collaboration that paved the way for the many future design collaborations which kept the company at the forefront of Danish design throughout the 20th century. It was Rohde's vision of design that moved Georg Jensen Silversmithy towards the design movements that were to follow.
Johan Rohde studied medicine before seeking education as a painter and illustrator at the Academy of Arts in Copenhagen 1981-1982. He was a pupil of both Laurits Tuxen and P. S. Kroyer from 1883. He exhibited paintings at Charlottenborg in 1888. Rohde was instrumental in establishing an independent art school and gallery in opposition to the Danish Royal Academy of Arts which was stiflingly conservative at the time. Rohde encouraged Georg Jensen to exhibit his statue "Foraaret" (Spring) at this gallery in 1897.
Rohde found his way to the Applied Arts when he began designing furniture and silver for his own home, to be produced by leading Danish artisans. His collaboration with Georg Jensen began in 1906 when he commissioned Jensen to create some objects drawn by himself for his own personal use, Jensen was impressed by Rohde's designs. As well as designing for Jensen, Rohde designed for other producers, until Jensen finally succeeded in securing an exclusive contract in 1913. The collaboration lasted until Rohde's death in 1935, just months before Georg Jensen's passing.
Rohde’s designs for Georg Jensen Silversmithy incorporated Jensen’s signature characteristics, the visible hammer marks and oxidation techniques, though his interpretation of the Art Nouveau style was more structured and often incorporated classical elements. His earlier designs almost fall between the Art Nouveau and the Art Deco that followed, or perhaps are an evolution on the way to the Art Deco. Certainly his later designs were pure Art Deco, it is fascinating to follow this design evolution.
Among Johan Rohde's most significant designs are the flatware patterns Acorn/Konge from 1915 and Scroll/Saga from 1927. Acorn is without doubt Georg Jensen's best selling and best known flatware pattern of all time. The "Cosmos" tea and coffee service #45, from 1915, has a timeless elegance that made it possibly Jensen's most sold tea service. His iconic pitcher #432 was designed in 1920 but first produced in 1925, as management thought the design too radical. The King's Bowl, design #250, was originally designed for King Gustav V of Sweden in 1917. Rohde was a prolific designer, he produced countless hollowware and flatware designs for Georg Jensen, though fewer jewelry designs. As well as Georg Jensen hallmarks, Rohde's designs are marked with a little round JR designer mark.