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30 Oct

A Celebration of - Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe (1927 – 2004)

It doesn't seem quite right to say that Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe was one of the most influential and celebrated silversmiths of the 20th century, although it doesn't diminish her; I think that she is still first and foremost a designer, why then can we not celebrate her as one of the influential designers of the 20th century. She mixed with some of the most influential artists of the century, Matisse, Picasso, Braque; she became a friend to Picasso, she designed jewellery for him and her clients also included the famous and the talented, Billie Holiday, Ingrid Bergman, Brigitte Bardot to name a few. Her designs have become legendary and are exhibited at several museums worldwide including the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

She broke with tradition in the late 1940s when she started to make jewellery from twisted wire and rock crystal, moonstone and quartz and pebbles. She called this her "anti-status" jewellery as she didn't want to make jewellery that was too precious to wear and would spend most of the time locked up. As society's boundaries were changing, artists and designers needed to expressed this fluidity and change. Torun Bülow-Hübe's designs expressed a modern freedom and indeed still continue to do so - sculptural and yet organic, inspired by natural shapes and the flow of water, often echoing the wearers body.  Her Möbius necklace, from 1959, which included a lead crystal drop to be draped over the shoulder of the wearer, was described by Barbara Cartlidge, (author of "Twentieth Century Jewellery" as a "milestone in the history of modern jewellery".

She began her long and fruitful relationship with the Georg Jensen company in the mid 1950s, the company embodied her own beliefs that jewellery should be about design and ideas and not just an agglomeration  of luxurious ideals and materials.

She designed their first wrist watch in 1962 - this was the iconic Vivianna Bangle which has been part of the Jensen watch collection ever since. A simple open bangle with a mirrored numberless dial: “I wanted to free people form the slavery of time, I wanted to make a watch which reminded one that life is here and now, so I created a watch with a mirror face, no numbers and a simple second hand. A watch should not make us prisoners of time–but liberate us. Perhaps it is possible to make a timepiece which more intensely perceives the Here and Now. The watch is open ended to symbolise that time should not bind us, and the dial like a mirror reminds us that life is now.”

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