An true scandinavian design icon - Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe

Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe, know as Torun was born on December 4, 1927 in Malmö, Sweden. Her father was director of town planning in Malmö and her mother was a sculptor. Torun was the youngest of four children, born after a gap of nine years. All four children pursued artistic careers with a brother and sister becoming architects and another sister, a poet. But it was Torun who became the most famous, as the first woman silversmith in the world to gain international recognition.

Torun studied at Konstfack, the School of Arts, Crafts and Scandinavian Design in Stockholm, beginning in 1945 while pregnant with her first child, Pia. Eventually she married the child's father, a Danish journalism student. In 1948, Torun spent the summer in Paris meeting Picasso, Braque, Matisse and the other great artists of the day. She married a French architect and lived in Stockholm until 1956 having a second child, a son, Claude. As early as 1952, Torun exhibited her jewellery, made both in Stockholm and France (and bearing hallmarks from each country) in Paris.

To France 

In 1956, Torun and her husband divorced and she lost custody of her son. She moved to France with her third husband, Walter Coleman, an Afro-American painter, meeting many of the jazz greats of that time. She designed jewellery for among others, Billie Holiday which Holiday wore when she performed. The couple moved to Biot in the south of France in 1958 to avoid political problems they were encountering in Paris as a result of the war in Algeria. Torun produced many pieces during this period when young Swedish silversmiths would come to work in her studio, introducing her to new techniques. Torun renewed her acquaintance with Picasso who lived in the area and an exhibition of Torun jewellery was held at the Picasso museum in Antibes from 1958 to 1960. Torun had two children with Walter, Ira and Marcia.

In 1965, her marriage broke up and in 1966, she became involved with the Subud spiritual movement, an association which continues to today.

In 1961, Torun won the Lunning Prize which was awarded from 1951 to the 1970s to someone who had "pioneered a unique artistic contribution".

In 1968, she moved to Wolfsburg Germany and in 1975 to the neighbouring village of Wendhausen to be closer to the Subud community. She had a workshop and worked with other artists in an association called "Die Schwinge".Beginning in 1967, Torun's production was taken over by Georg Jensen silver. Since moving to Germany, Torun has worked on things other than jewellery including cutlery, chinaware and handbags. In 1978, Torun moved to Indonesia.

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Torun & Picasso

Torun meets Pablo Picasso who is admiring her jewellery.

The highest of honors - The Prince Eugen medal

On November 5, 1992, Torun was awarded the Prince Eugen medal by King Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden. The medal is bestowed for outstanding artistic achievement.

In September of 1992 Georg Jensen in Copenhagen held an exhibition to celebrate 25 years of Torun's association with the company, 45 years of working with silver and her 65th birthday. From October 1992 to January 1993, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in the Louvre held a 45 year retrospective of Torun's work. Torun's innovative designs include the "figure of eight" ring and the stainless steel bangle watch. The ring Torun calls "Two become One". As she has said, "to me it symbolizes infinite love, and is one of my very earliest pieces-my wedding ring- from the 50s". The stainless watch she made in 1962 as a contribution to an exhibit at the Museu des Arts Decoratifs in the Louvre. The theme of the exhibition was "an object of your dislike". "Well, the relentlessness of time is what i abhor, so i designed a watch with no numbers; it was intended to be an ornament, not a chronometer. At first it only had a seconds hand, but when Geoorg Jensen began producing the watch in 1967, we added both the hour and minute hands. The bracelet did not completely encircle the wrist but was left open at the outside so as not feel oneself a prisoner of time..." It was the first watch of its kind-audaciously simple, stripped of all but the bare essentials. The dial was like a mirror, so whenever you looked at it, you saw your own reflection, a reminder of the present moment...the very second. It was the first watch ever produced by Jensen.

"It is a search for the source, the simple and natural, that impels Torun's creative work. Inspired by the art of primitive cultures, African, Oceanic, Egyptian, she creates her forms not for the sake of beauty alone; but carefully considers both the form and function of each piece of jewellery she makes. A practical detail such as the fastening is not concealed but on the contrary accentuated. She subscribes to the philosophy that what is functional is also beautiful".

From From TORUN by Ann Westin, published 1993 by Carlssons.

We've sold a number of the iconic Scandinavian design jewellery over the years below are a few examples:  

Our current selection of Scandinavian Design Jewellery:

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