Jan 042015


Today is the birthday (1927) of Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe, often known simply as Torun, one of Sweden’s most well known 20th century silversmiths and a master jeweler. Among her most famous works are the watch “Vivianna,” the bracelet “Mobius,” and the earrings and necklaces “Dew Drop.”

Torun was born and grew up in Malmö with her sculptor mother, town planner father and three older siblings. Her entire family was creative: a sister became a poet and her brother and other sister grew up to become architects. Torun began making jewelry as a teenager. She attended the Stockholm university of arts, crafts and design Konstfackskolan (later renamed Konstfack). She staged her first exhibition at the age of 21. In 1948 she traveled to Paris and Cannes, where she met painters Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Henri Matisse. A few years later she opened her own studio, which made her the first female silversmith in Sweden with her own workshop.

Torun had her first child, Pia, at the age of 18. She later married Pia’s father, a Danish journalism student, but the marriage was short-lived. In 1948, she married her second husband, a French architect, with whom she had a second child, Claude. In 1956 they divorced, and Torun lost custody of Claude to his father. She then remarried and moved to Paris with her third husband, African-American painter Walter Coleman, with whom she later had two children, Ira and Marcia. In 1958 the family moved to Biot in the south of France to avoid political problems they were encountering in Paris as a result of the war in Algeria. In 1965 Torun’s marriage to Coleman broke up.

After the breakup of her third marriage, Torun become a member of an international spiritual movement called Subud, and in 1968 she moved to Germany to be nearer to a Subud community. She later moved to Jakarta in Indonesia, where Subud was founded. In 2002, after being diagnosed with leukemia, she left Indonesia to live with her daughter Marcia in Denmark until her death in 2004 at the age of 76.


In 1948, saying that she didn’t want to design jewelry for the wives of wealthy men to keep locked up in private, Torun began making what she called “anti-status jewelry” out of twisted silver wire embellished with crystals and stones. In 1959, she designed the Mobius necklace, which included a lead crystal drop to be draped over the shoulder of the wearer. It was described by Barbara Cartlidge, author of the reference book Twentieth Century Jewelry, as a “milestone in the history of modern jewelry.” In 1962, Torun designed a stainless steel bangle-style wristwatch for an exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. It later became the first wristwatch to be produced by the world-renowned Danish silver company Georg Jensen.


In 1960, Torun was awarded a gold medal at the 1960 Milan Triennale and also won the American Lunning Prize for design, given annually to innovative Scandinavian designers in their thirties. She then met, for the first time, Danish silversmith Georg Jensen, for whom she began designing exclusively in 1969.

Torun is the designer behind some of the most famous Georg Jensen jewelry designs, including ‘Mobius’, ‘The Vivianna / Open Watch’, ‘Beans’, Forget me knot’ and ‘Hidden Heart’. She is the second most famous Georg Jensen designer, behind Jensen himself. In 1992 she was awarded the Prince Eugen medal by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden for outstanding artistic achievement. Also in 1992, the Georg Jensen form held an exhibition honoring 25 years of its association with Torun, 45 years of her work with silver and her 65th birthday. In the same year, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in the Louvre held a 45-year retrospective of Torun’s work.


Torun’s jewelry was inspired by natural shapes such as flowers, leaves, swirls and the flow of water. It is described as sober, minimalist and simple. Torun has been praised for her ability to shape solid materials into seemingly flexible forms, so that metal flows like water around the wearer’s neck and shoulders. She did not use valuable stones, preferring instead pebbles, granite, rock crystal, moonstone and quartz.

Her work can be seen in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Swedish National Museum in Stockholm, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Montreal, the Louvre in Paris, the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths in London, and in the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich.

Swedish cuisine to a limited extent is known internationally, “Swedish” meatballs being commonplace, for example, and, of course, the general idea of smörgåsbord spelled smorgasbord in English. However, such cuisine is considerably modified outside Sweden. Meatballs are traditionally served with lingonberry jam in Sweden, for example.

Swedish cooking uses very few seasonings and is dominated by fish, meat, and root vegetables. Nonetheless it is tremendously varied. Rather than giving you a recipe I am going to present a gallery which in general should be enough to create many of the dishes. These include smoked salmon on toast, blood sausage with lingonberry jam,  boiled eggs on bread with caviar paste, and (of course) meatballs.  Lingonberry jam is easily available at IKEA outlets.


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The jewel in the crown of  Swedish cuisine is smörgåsbord which became internationally known at the 1939 New York World’s Fair when it was offered at the Swedish Pavilion’s “Three Crowns Restaurant.”It is typically a celebratory meal and guests can help themselves from a range of dishes laid out for their choice. In a restaurant, the term refers to a buffet-style table laid out with many small dishes from which, for a fixed priced, one is allowed to choose as many as one wishes.


The Swedish word smörgåsbord consists of the words smörgås (open-faced sandwich) and bord (table). Smörgås in turn consists of the words smör (butter, cognate with English smear) and gås. Gås literally means goose, but later referred to the small pieces of butter that formed and floated to the surface of cream while it was churned. These pieces reminded the old Swedish peasants of fat geese swimming to the surface. The small butter pieces were just the right size to be placed and flattened out on bread, so smörgås came to mean buttered bread. In Sweden, the term breda smörgåsar (to butter open-faced sandwiches) has been used since at least the 16th century.


A traditional Swedish smörgåsbord consists of both hot and cold dishes. Bread, butter, and cheese are always part of the smörgåsbord. It is customary to begin with the cold fish dishes which are generally various forms of herring, salmon, and eel. After eating the first portion, people usually continue with the second course (other cold dishes), and round off with hot dishes. Dessert may or may not be included in a smörgåsbord.


A special Swedish type of smörgåsbord is the julbord, which is the standard Christmas dinner in Sweden. Julbord is a word consisting of the elements jul, meaning Yule (today synonymous with Christmas) and bord, table. The classic Swedish julbord is the highlight of Swedish cuisine, a traditional smörgåsbord starting with bread dipped in ham broth and continuing with a variety of fish (salmon, herring, whitefish and eel), ham, small meatballs, pork ribs, head cheese and sausages, potato, Janssons frestelse, boiled or potato casserole, soft and crisp bread, butter and different cheeses, beetroot salad, cabbage (red, brown or green) and rice pudding and beverages.

As with the smörgåsbord, the traditional julbord is typically eaten in three courses. The dishes include local and family specialties. The first course would typically be a variety of fish, particularly pickled herring and lox (gravlax). It is customary to eat particular foods together; herring is typically eaten with boiled potatoes and hard-boiled eggs and is frequently accompanied by strong spirits like snaps, brännvin or akvavit with or without spices. Other traditional dishes would be (smoked) eel, rollmops, herring salad, baked herring, smoked salmon and crab canapés, accompanied by sauces and dips.

The second course is often a selection of cold sliced meats, the most important cold cut being the Christmas ham (julskinka) with mustard. Other traditional cuts include homemade sausages, leverpastej and several types of brawn. It is also common to serve the cold meats with sliced cheese, pickled cucumbers and soft and crisp breads.

The third course should be warm dishes. Traditionally, the third course begins with soaking bread in the stock from the Christmas ham but this is rarely practiced today. Warm dishes include Swedish meatballs (köttbullar), small fried hot dog sausages (prinskorv), roasted pork ribs (revbensspjäll), and warm potato casserole, matchstick potatoes layered with cream, onion and sprats called Janssons frestelse (literally “Jansson’s Temptation”).

Other dishes are pork sausages (fläskkorv), smoked pork and potato sausages (isterband), cabbage rolls (kåldolmar), baked beans, omelet with shrimps or mushrooms covered with béchamel sauce. Side dishes include beetroot salad in mayonnaise and warm stewed red, green or brown cabbage.

Lutfisk, lyed fish made of stockfish, (along with boiled potato, thick white sauce, and green peas) can be served with the warm dishes or as a separate fourth course. Lutfisk is often served as dinner the second day after the traditional Christmas Yule-table dinner. It is most definitely an acquired taste if made from cod. Lutefisk prepared from cod is somewhat notorious, even in Scandinavia, for its intensely offensive odor. Conversely, lutefisk prepared from pollock or haddock emits almost no odor.

Julbord desserts include rice pudding (risgrynsgröt), sprinkled with cinnamon powder.photo Traditionally, an almond is hidden in the bowl of rice porridge and whoever finds it receives a small prize or is recognized for having good luck. Julbord is served from early December until just before Christmas at restaurants and until Epiphany in some homes.

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