Thursday, 13 December 2007

Denmark: clocks

Or, rather, a clock, a barometer and a thermometer.
Mostly my gifts range from curious to utterly bizarre. Certainly most are not the sort of thing that you would ever want to take home. Very rarely I get given something nice and, even more rarely, I get given something really special, such as this lovely Georg Jensen set given to me by the Danish branch of a top accountancy firm, for yet another brilliant speech, in Copenhagen a few years ago. They could not be more perfect for my study if they had been designed specifically for it.
I do realise, looking at this picture, that I haven't hung the clock back straight on it's hook from changing the time when the clocks went back in October, however!

Georg Jensen

Georg Jensen (1866-1935) studied sculpture at the Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts and initially worked as a designer at the Bing & Grøndahl porcelain factory. He setup his own business but didn't do very well until he switched to silversmithing and by the time of his death had five shops internationally and was a well known Art Deco designer. He always gave his designers free reign however and now the firm produces all sorts of interesting jewellery, watches, cutlery, bowls etc.

These particular pieces were designed by Henning Koppel (1918-1981).

Henning Koppel

Singapore: Golden chopsticks

These golden chopsticks were given to me by the Singapore Attorney General's office. I suppose they have some symbolic meaning like "have a fruitful life" or "live long and prosper" or "may you win the lottery" or even "eat your food with shiny utensils" but when searching golden chopsticks on the internet all I get is references to the hundreds of Chinese restaurants around the world called "Golden Chopsticks". Maybe they mean "may you have a successful restaurant".

Chopsticks originated in ancient China as early as the Shang dynasty (1600-1100 BC) and are widely used in Asia. The Mandarin Chinese word for chopsticks is kuàizi which is a compound of the words meaning quick and bamboo. The English word "chopstick" seems to have been derived from Chinese Pidgin English, where "chop chop" meant quickly.

"Rubbery noodles!" Probably shouldn't have cooked them for so long, then.