Tao Pipes1 Total
Jens "Tao" Nielsen's first occupation was as a sailor, during which time he saw a good part of the globe. After taking a break from the life at sea to fulfill his military service, Tao intended to go right back; he met a girl instead, married her, and evidently decided that an occupation that would keep him in the same part of the world as her was called for.
This led Tao to three and a half years with Wilhelm Jorgensen's Copenhagen pipe shop, which in turn led him to an apprenticeship with Erik Nording. As it happened Tao's time at Nording overlapped with that of Poul Ilsted, leading to a meeting of the two, and their both leaving in order to found the Svendborg brand along with Henrik Jorgensen in 1970. Though establishing Svendborg did allow Tao and Poul greater independence, the market for the brand was still serially produced pipes, a factor that eventually resulted in first Poul, and then Tao leaving to go their own ways.
In the many years since, Tao, like Poul, has become among the most prominent independent Danish pipemakers, though the two have been known to collaborate together periodically under the name Tao & Ilsted. Tao's own style is distinctly sturdy, compact, and well-knit — shaping informed by his time as a sailor and his approach to pipes as masculine, everyday items, however smooth their lines or beautiful their finishes may be. Fitting to that, broad silver shank-bands serve as his standard manner of accenting a pipe, while for stems he turns to classic black vulcanite, cumberland, or amber-colored acrylics.