The Jacob Award dates back to 1957 and is named after the first recipient of the award, goldsmith Jacob Tostrup Prytz. Winners of the award over its almost 60-year history include jewellery designers, ceramicists, furniture designers, industrial designers, textile designers, architects, interior designers and graphic designers. The award is presented to individuals who have made a notable impact on the design disciplines.
Jacob Tostrup Prytz (1886–1962) was a central figure in design at a time when a new awareness of the artistic and vocational professions was spreading. Apart from being the artistic director of the family company J. Tostrup, he was also head of the goldsmithing programme at the Norwegian National Academy of Craft and Art Industry from 1918 and rector of the school from 1934 to 1956. He took the initiative to establish the Applied Art Association (Foreningen Brukskunst) and was president of the association from 1920-1946.
The Jacob Award was initially presented by the National Federation of Norwegian Applied Arts and, from 1993 to 2014, was presented by Norsk Form. Since the merger between Norsk Form and Norwegian Design and Architecture Centre, the award has been presented by Design and Architecture Norway. In 2016, the Jacob Award was presented to the interaction design firm Bengler and recipients Even Westvang, Simen Svale Skogsrud and Øyvind Rostad.
Norwegian design history
When the Jacob Award was established in 1957, design was still a foreign concept within the Norwegian context. What we today call designers were known as draughtsmen, stylists and applied artists. To understand Norwegian design history, we have to understand the position of applied artists and how views of the link between art, handicrafts and industry have changed.
The Applied Art Association founded by Jacob Tostrup Prytz was inspired by the Deutscher Werkbund and Svenska Slöjdforeningen. “What all of these organisations had in common was the notion that if everyday people were given the opportunity to surround themselves with beauty, this would contribute to better social and moral conditions in society,” writes Trygve Ask in the book Good Form in Norway. Winners of the Jacob Award 2005-1957.
This notion, combined with view of the relationship between art, handicrafts and industry, had a tremendous impact. The German Bauhaus movement also had a major influence on this development. “Applied artists became the collective name that led to the unity of the artist, craftsman and industrial designer in one and the same person,” writes Trygve Ask.