BERLIN — After a five-year absence, Georg Jensen has returned to its oldest export market — Germany — with a new Munich flagship as part of the brand’s European expansion strategy.
Following a royal reception with their Royal Highnesses Prince Frederik and Princess Mary on Wednesday night, the store on Maffeistrasse opened its doors to the public Thursday. The 2,000-square-foot store houses the complete Georg Jensen product range of sterling silver hollowware and flatware, fine jewelry, watches, home and men’s accessories, each occupying their own separate gallery-like sections.
The latest example of Jensen’s new retail template as developed by Danish architect David Thulstrup, the store interior is a blend of Scandinavian minimalism, metallic elements with an Art Deco flair, sculptural lighting fixtures, and handcrafted sandstone and wood pieces. One example is Danish cabinet-maker Laura Bergsøe’s central iron-legged display table of plane tree planks inlaid with silver butterfly joints. The inspiration taps the house’s 111-year design history while linking contemporary creative forces in the arts, jewelry and product design, architects and craftsmen.
Under former management, Jensen shut down its German operation five years ago as its European business contracted. However, it should be noted that in 1909, just five years after the firm’s founding, Jensen chose Berlin as the site of the silver specialist’s first store outside Denmark. “They really understand the culture and heritage of the brand there, which is why we’re so excited to go back to Germany,” Jensen’s chief executive officer and chief creative officer David Chu told WWD.
In addition to Munich and a recently opened store in Oslo, Jensen will be embarking on a three-door retail foray in London in September. The existing London Bond Street store is being relocated to Mount Street, with two new doors opening in Royal Exchange and The Village Westfield.
Arriving in Munich directly from Hong Kong, Chu was upbeat about Jensen’s upcoming launch in China, where a House of Jensen is set to debut in a restored residence in a historic Beijing hutong, or lane, next to the Beijing Center for the Arts. The 3,600-square-foot space will be the first Jensen store to feature a café, the name and Nordic fusion menu of which are still being finalized.
At the Jensen helm since 2013, Chu also sees further growth potential in the U.S., where he said the brand is now “revitalizing.“ While own retail is driving expansion in Europe, Jensen’s largest market, American distribution is more evenly spread between wholesale and retail. Globally, Jensen owns and operates 100 stores. Industry sources estimate the brand’s total 2014 sales at about $150 million.
Many describe Jensen as a “sleeping beauty,” a characterization Chu finds apt. He said the aim is to make Jensen “known as a design company, not a luxury company. Jensen stands for beauty and quality,” he stated. “It’s just about making it more relevant.”
To that end, the brand has engaged in collaborations with industrial designer Marc Newson for a sharper, contemporary take on silver flatware, jewelry designers Jordan Askill and Vivianna Torun, and German designer Constantin Wortmann for the Jensen Living range’s Cobra collection. This year saw the brand’s return to Baselworld with a higher-end offering of watches and jewelry, of which gold pieces now account for 51 percent of the silver specialist’s jewelry sales.
A men’s accessories assortment will be in store later this year, with small leather goods and writing instruments, cufflinks and bags all manufactured in Europe, joining the ranks of Jensen products. “It’s a multiple lifestyle proposal for people who appreciate art and design,” Chu said.