Vivianna Torun Bülow-Hübe (1927-2004), whose artistic name was simply Torun, was born the youngest of four children in Malmö, Sweden. Her father was a director of town planning, her mother a sculptor.

 

At 18, despite being pregnant with her first child, Pia, Torun attended the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design (Konstfack) in Stockholm. She later married Pia’s father, a Danish journalism student, but the marriage was short-lived.

In 1948, Torun travelled to Paris, where she met Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Georges Braque. Soon after, she married her second husband, a French architect, and designed and made jewellery in her Stockholm workshop while having a second child, Claude.

In 1956, she divorced again and moved to Paris with her third husband, Afro-American painter Walter Coleman, with whom she had two children, Ira and Marcia.

Through Coleman, Torun met many well-known jazz artists including Billie Holiday, who became a friend and often wore her jewellery on stage.

Torun set up a workshop in Biot, in the south of France, and sold her jewellery through the Galerie Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris, where much of it was bought by high-profile clients such as Brigitte Bardot and Ingrid Bergman.

Torun was awarded a gold medal at the 1960 Milan Triennale, and the same year won Denmark’s Lunning Prize for pioneering “a unique artistic contribution”.

From 1967, Georg Jensen took up production of her designs, including the Möbius bangle and Hidden Heart pendant. Around this time, Torun had become a devoted member of a spiritual association called Subud, and moved to Germany to be closer to a community of like-minded people.

She designed jewellery from studios there until 1978, when she accepted a design consultancy job for a charitable organisation in Indonesia. She continued to create pieces for Georg Jensen from her studio in Pamulang outside Jakarta, and was awarded the Prince Eugen medal in 1992 by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden for outstanding artistic achievement. After falling ill, she left Indonesia in 2002 to live with her daughter Marcia in Denmark before her death in 2004 at the age of 76.

Fast facts

Style

Torun’s jewellery is essentially an interpretation of nature. She loved organic forms like leaves, pools and spirals, and her pieces flow with a sensuous life of their own.

She worked primarily in silver and semi-precious stones like amethyst and moonstone, and hated the idea of designing for rich women who treated jewellery “as a sign of their husbands’ fortunes”.

Her very early designs were simple neck rings with drops of polished pebbles and ovoid-shaped glass.

Best known for

Her Open watch of 1962 is more jewellery than watch. Its elegant, numberless face flows into an open bracelet just wide enough for a slender female wrist.

“I wanted to free people from the slavery of time,” Torun explained. “The watch is open-ended to symbolise that time should not bind us, and the dial like a mirror reminds us that life is now.”

Renamed the ‘Vivianna’ in honour of its creator, it was the first watch Georg Jensen ever produced and continues to be a huge success.

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