Once upon a time Georg Jensen was known as the ultimate resource for modern contemporary sterling silver jewelry and home accessories. Into its second century of life, the company has decided to recapture the luster of what once was with the hiring of David Chu as CEO and now with the addition of Marcus Teo. The globetrotting Marcus Teo is the subject of today’s meet and greet and he has been extremely forthcoming via the series of question posed to him. He tells us of what we can expect from him in the future and some of his past and some of his private life.
First is the press release announcing his arrival to the fabled brand which is sort of a mission statement and then we get to know him in deeper detail, the slideshow offers a small glimpse in to his past and what makes him tick as a creative force in fashion.
Please meet Marcus Teo..
Marcus Teo Joining Georg Jensen
American Vogue contributing sittings editor and prior editor of W magazine’s men’s portfolio, Marcus Teo will collaborate with David Chu, Georg Jensen’s chief executive officer and chief creative officer, to launch a men’s jewellery and watch collection. He will take on the title of vice president and creative director. “I’ll be working on all aspects of creative,” Teo told press. He will continue in his freelance role at American Vogue, as “it keeps my interest and inspiration going,” he said. The Collaboration is not to only to introduce a men’s collection (not only jewelry but leather goods, accessories etc.) but to shine the spotlight on all Jewelry, Home, Silverware and the hallowed Holloware collection
Q-What is your big picture plan for Georg Jensen? And who are you targeting as your customer?
The House of Georg Jensen is a House of Art & Design. It is not only a store for beautiful jewelry, or a purveyor of fine home décor or a gallery of collectible silver. It is all that as well as an active participant in the vital and vibrant world of Art and Design. Georg Jensen himself was an artist; a sculptor who was also a great silversmith. Back in 1904, before artists even thought of collaborations, Jensen invited his artist friends to design and he turned their work into masterpieces. It was the beginning of a fruitful practice. This became the Georg Jensen tradition, working with artists through every Design Period, from Art Nouveau to Art Deco, through the Danish golden age of design during the mid-century. All the way through the 70s, 80s and now. The tradition continues with some of the world’s best Design powerhouses. My big picture is to continue this tradition of collaboration – to shed light on the rich heritage and also to create a constant and current dialogue with the Art and Design world.
The Jensen customer has always been someone who appreciates art and craft, who values the beauty of design and creation. Our jewelry customer knows that they are investing in wearable art and our Home and Silver customers are welcoming art into their homes. My target is to extend our culture of value in art and design to the vast demographic that appreciates design. Through social media like Pinterest and various blogs, the design aficionados have grown in huge numbers. I want them to be participants in the Georg Jensen culture – as both customers and collaborators.
Q-Do you believe that Georg Jensen can be restored to its once reverential status among international luxury retailers? And why?
A little dusting can uncover huge treasure troves. Our archives hold some of the giants in Design and art. We have produced and created some of the most reverential pieces as well as the most modern objects of their time. Living in an age where the Design periods co-exist seamlessly, our vast trove of goods have become modern collector’s gold. My task is to reintroduce these vibrant items of jewelry and Home design goods as well as our Silver treasures. In addition, we continue the ongoing conversation as we collaborate with the design powerhouses of now. In this two prong approach, we speak to international luxury retailers with our desirable goods as well as create a modern dialogue with a new and growing luxury-appreciating audience.
Q- What was your most favorite assignment during your career and why?
There have been so many! One that had left a lasting impression was my very first shoot as the Fashion Director of W Magazine’s Men’s portfolio. Dennis Freedman had commissioned fine art photographer Rodney Smith to shoot for us. I was doing my first sitting – shooting at Parc de Sceaux a little south of Paris. The handsome clothes, the great models, the almost mathematical structure of the park – all came together with precision through Rodney’s lens. The moment when all the effort and work behind the scenes culminate on one perfect photo, that is the moment I pine for. When it happens as it did for the first time on this shoot, everything is as it should be.
Q- What are your current observations about fashion? men’s .. women’s??
I have always been interested in Fashion, but by way of Film School. My appreciation has been for the craft of making clothes and the effect it creates, like what costume does in movies and theatre. It creates characters. Fashion is interesting to me because men and women become characters when they put clothes on. I have been an accidental tourist in the rise of menswear because of W’s Men’s Portfolio. I was interested in fashion but I was more interested in creating a general interest book. Art, Design, Sport, the Lives of others – that’s what I am interested in. Currently in fashion, I applaud the drive that the young designers still have in making it. The world of fashion has made more friends and fans in the last 10 years. It used to be so far removed. But, it has also become ore competitive and big business. For every Nicholas Ghesquiere or Alexander Wang out there making it, there’s a lot more struggling to get their amazing collections out. I think I am a fan of the designers. I think it takes guts to put yourself in this arena. Obviously, there are good collections and bad ones. There always have been.
It is comforting to know that Zoran is out there somewhere not giving a hoot about how commercial he could have been but sticking to his instincts.
Q- Can you explain what a sittings editor does and as a stylist how much of the finished product are you responsible for?
I studied Film. That is a highly collaborative field. It takes the sum of different parts to make the perfect image. In portraiture and fashion photography, one is always trying to achieve the perfect shot. This could be bringing out the personality in portraiture or creating the Decisive or Indecisive moment. A great sittings editor pulls together the different elements – the right clothes, the models, the subjects, the location, the time of day and collaborates closely with the Photographer – who is the Director and who is the Cinematographer? The roles vary with the Photographer. I always go in excited to collaborate, to work with a few to create the image. When it all falls in place, my job as a sittings editor is done. My role as a stylist uses Fashion and costume to elicit an emotion, to tell a story. Depending on the day and the photographer, I have been surprised and moved to tears. On other days, I have to take control of the situation and act as a director. The point is to stay collaborative. I am Always responsible for my finished product!
Q-Who are your style icons/idols/inspirations and why?
On a personal style level, Bryan Ferry and Michael Chow. Look at Bryan Ferry! Rock Star with sartorial tendencies. Never the pretty boy but always a chic Man. Michael Chow is an icon of Food, Art and Design. A quick study into his esthetic life will reveal the most sublime choices. And Never Boring. Always keep it interesting. A couple of years ago, I did a Mr. Chow inspired story for GQ. I had permission and was shooting in his restaurant. He was in the neigbourhood and decided to drop by. While my model was evocating Chow’s sharply-dressed persona, the real Mr. Chow showed up in black t-shirt, light linen shorts, black socks and black canvas sneakers – the antithesis of dressed up but startlingly perfect.
Q-What advice would you offer to those who are just starting their career in the fashion business?
Absorb Culture. Study Sociology. Devour History. Learn about Design. In fact, study anything but fashion. Unless you are planning to be a designer, then make sure you learn the craft.
Q- Where is your ideal home and why?
Everywhere I have lived seems to lead the way to the ideal home. From the Colonial home in Malaysia to the Corbusier shrine in London to my own undertakings in New York City. They all contain traces of the past and also elements of where they are. I am quite adaptable but I cannot wait to adapt to a house near water. The Ocean or a Lake is what I find rapturous.
Q-what is your most treasured possession in terms of wardrobe?
A pair of Helmut Lang jeans that was given to me by Helmut. It has gone through several Weights of me!
Q-if you could rewrite your own history, how would you alter it and why?
I wouldn’t. I have lived in 3 continents and have learnt so much. If I was wiser back then, I still would have been learning something during that time.
I suppose I would be a tad taller if I could rewrite something!