Life and career
Jensen was born in the Vesterbro area of Copenhagen in 1926. He left school after the seventh grade and completed training as an upholsterer. In 1947 he began working in his father's shop where he first started to design furniture.
Jensen was accepted into the School of Arts and Craft (Danmarks Designskole) in the furniture division in 1948. During his time there, Jørn Utzon initiated a revolutionary program called "Industrial Design" whose focus was on mass produced objects for everyday use. Jensen was the first student to graduate under this new subject in 1952.
Jensen started his professional career for Bernadotte and Bjørn, the first industrial design drawing office in Denmark (1954–1959). His professional relationship with Bang & Olufsen (B&O) began in 1965 and continued until 1991, where he functioned as designer and strategy advisor. Jensen is credited with developing the B&O form language which is still used today.
Many of Jensen's designs have found homes in permanent design collections at museums around the world.
Since 1958 Jensen has worked out of his own independent drawing office, which moved to its present location in Hejlskov, Jutland in 1962. In 1990, though he continued to design, he handed the reins of the company to his son, Timothy Jacob Jensen, who as chief executive and chief designer has expanded the company internationally. It now has studios in Shanghai and Bangkok, in addition to its Danish home on the shore of Limfjord in northern Denmark.
Design for Sound exhibition
"Bang and Olufsen - Design for Sound by Jacob Jensen" was an exhibit at the MoMA in New York in 1978. The exhibit consisted of 28 audio products, 15 of which now belong to the MoMA's permanent collection. At the time, the museum had only three times previously arranged solo exhibitions.
“In my view, constructing a fountain pen, writing a poem, producing a play or designing a locomotive, all demand the same components, the same ingredients: perspective, creativity, new ideas, understanding and first and foremost, the ability to rework, almost infinitely, over and over. That ‘over and over’ is for me the cruelest torture.
“The only way I can work,” he continued, “is to make 30-40 models before I find the right one. The question is, when do you find the right one? My method is, when I have reached a point where I think, O.K., that’s it, there it is, I put the model on a table in the living room, illuminate it, and otherwise spend the evening as usual, and go to bed. The next morning I go in and look at it, knowing with 100 percent certainty that I have 6-7 seconds to see and decide whether it’s right or wrong.
“If I look at it longer, I automatically compensate. ‘Oh, it’s not too high,’ and ‘It’s not so bad.’ There are only those 6-7 seconds; then I make some notes as to what’s wrong. Finished. After breakfast, I make the changes. That’s the only way I know.”
Examples of Jensen's work
- Olesen, Christian Holmsted (2004). Jacob Jensen, p. 8-10. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen. ISBN 87-11-23107-6.
- "Bang & Olufsen Designer - Jacob Jensen". BeoWorld. 2007-04-02. Retrieved 2011-05-24.
- "Jacob Jensen - Awards and Exhibitions". Beophile.com. Retrieved 2011-05-24.
- Jacob Jensen, Designer in Danish Modern Style, Dies at 89, nytimes.com, MAY 21, 2015
- "Designstjernen Jacob Jensen er død" (in Danish). Jyllandsposten. 2015-05-16. Retrieved 2015-05-16.
- Jacob Jensen
- "Design for Sound by Jacob Jensen Exhibition". BeoWorld. 2007-01-24. Retrieved 2011-05-31.
- Jacob Jensen, Designer in Danish Modern Style, Dies at 89 , nytimes.com, MAY 21, 2015
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