Anni and Bent Knudsen
Bent Knudsen (1924-1997) was employed by Hans Hansen’s Silversmith A / S in Kolding until 1956, but started his company in 1952 with paper design in town together with his wife Anni.The paper decorations quickly caught on due to Bent’s creative and whimsical style. Significant jewelry was also a significant part of the workshop’s production starting in the years 1956 and he became a supplier for the famous “Den Permanente” as well as the Danish Handcraft Guild.
He enjoyed experimentation and to pull new ideas from different sources. The way links on a bracelet were joined might inspire a new way of connecting parts of his latest mobile, or perhaps, a shape from one of his mobiles might inspire a brooch. Of course, paper and silver weren’t the only mediums in which Bent took to, he also created designs in cardboard, glass, and plastics, and in 1958, he was commissioned to create small elephant and donkey figurines to be sold by Nieman Marcus for the upcoming 1960 election.
By 1963, their operation had reached a point where they were producing almost 200 designs, and employed approximately 45 employees, with nearly three times as many during their busier periods.
In the following years, the mobiles would only increase in popularity as they began exporting to over 75 different countries, and participatingin various exhibitions. In 1969, the couple recieved an award from the Danish Trade Council for their mobile featuring the Royal Danish Lifeguards, the Faxe’s Designpris in 1987, and the European Gold Star for Quality in 1988.The mobiles had become such an iconic part of Danish culture that from 1994 on, Danish Television would produce a movie about the creation of that year’s latest Christmas design, and when Bent Knudsen passed away, Koldinghus issued a series of stamps depicting his old Christmas designs. The Koldinghus Museum would honor him again in 2002 for their exhibition “50 Years of Paper Art” and feature hundreds of different designs, including many for the holidays as well as his more whimsical animal designs and more geometric forms.
Although new designs are, of course, no longer being produced, the business still lives on, and the company, Livingly, since 2008, has had the rights to reproduce the paper mobiles, and frequently rereleases “new” mobiles based on his old works, proving interest still exists in Bent Knudsen’s variety of whimsy still have a plae in the hearts of many over 50 years later.
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