Man of Design – mad and simple

Designer Jacob Jensen (1926-2015) was a wonderfully mad and gifted man who invented the Bang & Olufsen style of hi-fi in the 60ies: Apple design a few decades before Apple.

Jacob jensen in the 60’ies

Jacob Jensen designs were elegant and simple, yet profound. They resulted from a penetrating investigation of the ways a user could and would interact with an industrial object. The noiseless and pleasing exterior of the hi-fi or the kitchenware would thus reflect a very deep understanding of what the user needed to know from the apparatus and what the apparatus needed to know from the user.

Therefore, the simplicity was the result of understanding many degrees of freedom inside the user and the apparatus being used.

This is much like the view from the legendary house in Hejlskov, northen Jutland, where Jacob Jensen did his best work: The view is the ocean, the sky and a strip of land. Simple, horisontal, and breathtaking.

The House in Hejlskov — private life and studio — as seen from the sea

The studio is now run by Jacob’s son Timothy, still harvesting an impressive number of international awards.


The welcome-note on the Jacob Jensen Design homepage (why I, BTW, drafted) says it all very nicely … 

“Plain surfaces which, upon closer investigation, reveal a rich inner life. Clear lines and sharp borders inviting investigation. A delight to the eye, calm acceptance in the mind. An invitation to embrace. No, this is not a description of industrial products from Jacob Jensen Design, though it could be. It is a description of the view from the rather remarkable house where Jacob Jensen Design has been established for more than a quarter of a century. On a hill facing a bay in the Limfjord, industrial design is created so calm and clear in its message that one is tempted to interpret it as an illustration of the water’s reflection and the horizon which dominates the view from the studio. Don’t be fooled. Just as the water conceals myriad of biological activity with sea weed and mussels, fish and seal, a Jacob Jensen Design conceals any number of functions in a product. Whether it is a Hi-Fi system, a cable roll, a windmill or a humidity gauge, the clear and calm outer surface hides a whole lot. The secret behind this doubleness lies in the work process. Using an imaginative and laborious analysis of the product’s function, utility pattern, technical possibilities and the components of the material, Jacob Jensen Design arrives at a clear conception of what must be visible for the consumer, and what is not needed to be shown. All the unnecessary is hidden within the plain surfaces, which never the less invite the consumer to closer investigation and use. Clear lines – with something inside.”

A truly great design tradition initiated by Jacob Jensen who checked out last Friday.

Thanks to a great man.

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