It must be the smallest gallery in Copenhagen. A handful of Italian young tourists are standing shoulder to shoulder, eyes roaming followed by respectful nods. The gallery owner, Mikael Hauberg gives them an informal description of the man behind the works they are absorbing, the graphic designer and illustrator, Ib Antoni. During the late 1950’s and 1960’s, Antoni produced illustrations and posters for an impressive array of Danish and international companies and organizations that placed him in that golden band of architects, furniture & graphic designers, the Danish Modernists. And while his name may not be instantly recognizable as the likes of Hans Werner, Finn Juhl or Verner Panton, Antoni’s playful posters for Wonderful Copenhagen, Volvo and Tuborg have captivated an international audience for 2 generations. Antoni’s pen, with more than a hint of debonair charm, caught the tone of the 1960’s and the affluence enriching an ever-growing middle-class. For a brief spell, during those heady Mad Men days, Ib Antoni worked at Young & Rubicam on Madison Avenue, cultivating his advertisement and branding skills, before returning to Denmark and producing his most prolific work. Tragically, Ib Antoni perished in the Hotel Hafnia fire in 1973 claiming another 34 lives. Antoni was just 44 years old when he died and undoubtedly at the peak of his career. His brother, Jørgen Antoni Jensen continued to nurture the interest in Ib Antoni’s illustrations until his death in 2010.
In 2013, Ib Antoni’s nephew, Anton Antoni allied with Mikael Hauberg took over the mantle to rejuvenate Antoni’s work to a global audience thirsty for Danish design. During the last 3½ years the gallery have digitalized Ib Antoni’s complete printed illustrations in collaboration with the renowned Danish photographer, Anders Sune Berg. This feat alone has secured that the wealth of Ib Antoni’s work is secured. Today, Antoni´s illustrations can be found at several design stores and museums throughout Denmark and in August this year, Ib Antoni joined forces with Le Klint Lighting, PP Møbler and Wellwood Furniture opening a new showroom in Taipei. From the modest gallery in Gothersgade in central Copenhagen, Anton and Mikael have established a vital gateway to the Asian market and a international platform Ib Antoni’s illustrations so richly deserves.
Illustration credits: Anton Antoni & Mikael Hauberg