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Bertel Gardberg

(Finland, 1916-2007)
Bertel Gardberg
(Finland, 1916-2007)

Bertel Gardberg, A 'Birgitta' silver ice server, marked GARDBERG, silversmith Ethel Düne, Helsinki 1959.

Silver 916. Length 16 cm. Weight 41 g.

Engraved initials on the back of the shaft.


Bertel Gardberg (1916-2007) was a pioneer within Finnish silversmithing, whose production combines form with function. During his long career, Gardberg designed a variety of items, from liturgical silver and jewellery to everyday objects.

A close relationship with nature and handcrafting were highly appreciated values that Gardberg took with him from his childhood home, which later came to affect his career. After searching for his own area of his time during his youth, Gardberg applied in the late 1930s to the School of Goldsmithing and the Center for the Arts and Crafts, where he found his vocation and got a good education within arts and crafts. After his studies, he continued his studies within silversmithing in Denmark

After returning to Finland in 1949, Gardberg set up his own workshop in Helsinki. As there was a shortage of precious metals, Gardberg had to melt e.g. old foreign silver coins to make new raw material. Perhaps the material shortage also contributed to Gardberg’s enthusiasm to creatively combine different materials. In his everyday object, for example, he coated brass with leather and made lids of wood and metal for wooden boxes, and at the same time he successfully created a perfect harmony between the materials. For Gardberg, the knowledge of materials and the working of them on their terms was important, and he constantly studied the use of new materials throughout his career.

The annual art industry exhibitions as well as the success at the Milan Triennials gave Gardberg numerous design assignments from the 1950s onwards. He designed silver cutlery sets for Hopeatehdas and Kultakeskus, and for Fiskars and Hackmann he designed Stainless stell cutlery sets where the steel was combined with other materials.

Gardberg held functional everyday objects in high esteem and approached their designprocess with devotion. Gardberg's utility objects combine beauty and practicality, and their apparent simplicity is in fact the result of a long process of development. Gardberg’s ingenuity can be seen, for example, in the bronze mortars and nutcracker he designed for Björkboda Bruk, which are not splashed.

During his career, Gardberg managed to receive all the most significant awards and recognitions within his field, from the Milan triennials awards to Pro Finlandia. In 1982 he was awarded the honorary title of Academician.

Above all, Gardberg felt that he was a craftsman. He spoke in favor of continuing craft traditions and keeping them alive, and also taught at the School of Art and Design to nurture these traditions. He was passionate and respectful towards the materials he used, and as a designer, his main task was to create usable and beautiful everyday objects.

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