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Friday, May 20, 2011

Pssst...They're called grooks

No, this isn't another one of my weird furniture term posts.

I was cruising Craigslist yesterday and found a black and white wall plaque that caught my eye. It was decorated with a simple, modern-looking graphic design and a short poem. The date on the back was 1954, and the piece was attributed to Piet Hein (1905-1996).

I did some research on Hein and found that he was born in Denmark and was a designer, a mathematician, a philosopher, a scientist, a game designer and a writer. The poem on the plaque is called a "grook" (gruk in Danish), which is a type of short verse, of Hein's invention, that is characterized by irony, paradox, precise use of language, sophisticated rhythms and rhymes, revealing as succinctly as possible something basic truth about the human condition.

Hein wrote over 10,000 grooks, published in over 60 books. Royal Copenhagen created the Hein wall plaques for a number of years. They are apparently still very collectible.

From (fifthseason)

these three:
their chime.
Things Take Time.

                                                                          Piet Hein

There is one art
no more,
no less:
to do all things
with art-

                                                                         Piet Hein

while you've got
love to give.
while you've got
life to live.

                                                                Piet Hein

Here is the one I found on Craigslist. I've made arrangements to pick it up today.

Living is
a thing
you do
or never--
which do you?

                                                                   Piet Hein


  1. Have never seen those! Now they are in my brain and maybe one day will have to have one on the shelf! Thanks for showing them off.

  2. I love those, especially the one that you bought. What a lovely grook.

  3. thats something new to me....never saw these before..another one to look out for..:)

  4. I found one recently in a thrift. I remember reading a book with some instructions on how to behave...remember enjoying them. If I remember correctly, he wrote very tongue in cheek when the Nazis were around to keep up spirits and to be subversive in a joking, lighthearted manner.