On a trip to Europe in 1954, Americans Martha and Ted Nierenberg went in search of a product to manufacture and produce for a U.S. audience. During a visit to the Museum of Arts and Crafts--Kunsthandwaerkmuseet (today the Danish Museum of Art & Design -- Kunstindustrimuseet) in Copenhagen, they saw a unique set of cutlery on display that combined teak and stainless steel, created by artist-designer Jens Quistgaard. The Nierenbergs tracked down Quistgaard and spoke with him in an effort to convince him to manufacture the cutlery. At first, Quistgaard insisted that the pieces could only be forged by hand, one piece at a time, but Nierenberg was able to convince him they could be mass-produced, leading to Dansk Designs' first product, Fjord flatware, which has been one of the brand's enduring bestsellers.
The Nierenbergs established Dansk that year in the garage of their Great Neck, New York home, with Quistgaard as its founding designer. By the end of 1954, Ted Nierenberg attracted orders for several hundred units from stores all around the United States, and the business took off from there. By 1958, Nierenberg and Quistgaard had expanded Dansk's wares to include teak magazine racks and stools, stoneware casseroles, salt and pepper grinders, and flatware with split cane handles. The New York Times credited Dansk with "creating a stir" with "some of the most popular accessories found in American homes." By 1982, Quistgaard had created more than 2,000 different designs for Dansk of dinnerware, glassware and items for the home.