a new year


Winding down at the end of the old year and then the Christmas holiday break, together marking the transition to a new year, is a time for most of us to reassess and make plans.

I moved to Copenhagen in August to write a book about Danish architecture and, more generally, to look at and write about contemporary Nordic architecture, design and manufacturing. It has been an amazing Autumn, getting settled in a new apartment, really exploring the city, searching out design shops, meeting designers and makers and taking advantage of having truly amazing museums and galleries on my door step - in the case of Designmuseum Danmark quite literally on my doorstep - to look at exhibitions and displays and to keep going back as many times as I need or want. And yes I really do appreciate how lucky I am.

With the coming Spring and longer days I plan to explore further afield and to make sure the posts more truly cover Nordic rather than just Danish or, at the moment for obvious reasons, almost exclusively Copenhagen topics.

The idea still is to focus on the best of design from the region and, because I’m an historian rather than a designer, to try to put design and manufacturing into some sort of context to understand what, if any, are the sources of inspiration for great new design but also, for English readers, to try to disentangle the marked regional differences in design and architecture and to begin to look at style and maybe even that tricky subject taste.

When, professionally, I look at historic buildings, style and aesthetics are simply the starting point for trying to work out who built and when and why, and how and exactly what was built and how and why it worked and how and why the building was changed over subsequent years. The same approach can be taken with design and manufacturing … rarely does a stunning building or a great chair or an amazingly beautiful glass or the perfect knife and fork just appear out of nowhere. And looking at design in that way … looking at the how, when and why … is not just an academic exercise but should help us to be informed buyers of good design and help designers and manufacturers and owners of shops and galleries think about what is carried forward and what could be or should be developed. 

For me, an important springboard will be northmodern - the design fair that will be held at the Bella Center in Copenhagen from 18th to the 20th of January. This will be the ideal opportunity to see in one place new designs from the well-established design companies alongside presentations from new or recently established young designers and new companies.

Until now, Nordic Design Review has kept with the familiar blog format and layout but the site is hosted by Squarespace and I could certainly be accused of underusing their brilliant software and very sophisticated templates. One possibility over the coming year is to explore how this site could evolve into an on-line magazine format - my posts are certainly longer than normal for a blog - but suggestions or ideas for collaboration would certainly be welcome.

Best wishes for 2015 from Copenhagen