REPUBLIC OF Fritz Hansen - Pakhus 48, Nordhavn
3daysofdesign, the big event in Copenhagen last week, was an amazing opportunity to see the very best of the furniture and design companies in the city at their very best. Over forty shops and design studios and manufacturers opened their doors for three days with open house, talks, displays and demonstrations. There was a fair bit of walking and, maybe, I did too much talking because I did not actually manage to tick off my list a visit to all the companies but, living in the city, I plan to get to the companies I missed over the summer or catch up with people at Northmodern later in the summer.
I was amazed by what I saw … these companies, some long established, like Getama or Rud. Rasmussen and some set up within the last two or three years had in common a huge and honestly transparent enthusiasm for their work and their products but also there was a very clear sense of a design community in the city. Nearly everyone knows everyone else but if there are rivalries they are well hidden. If foreign buyers or foreign companies want to understand why and how the design industry here is so strong and has such a broad base and such a huge diversity of styles and designs, all at the highest possible level in terms of quality, then this event would be a good starting point.
There were a number of clear themes that seemed to emerge as I worked my way around the city … these included a new and general move towards strong colours; a move towards using darker timbers alongside the ever-popular light oak, the emergence of a number of companies producing designs in metal in a refined and elegant style that takes the furniture closer to engineering and the growing importance of contract designs … not so much the idea of furnishing banks or offices but now the aim is to work with architects and interior designers on high-profile hotels and restaurants that not only gain attention from glossy magazines but also introduce new customers - the people staying in the hotels or eating in the renowned restaurant - to a designers or a manufacturers chairs, tables or lighting.
Several of the events were in the city centre stores such as at Carl Hansen on Bredgade or in the showroom of Louis Poulsen on Gammel Strand but all had newly-released designs to show, often a first general viewing after the Milan furniture fair.
There were several outstanding venues particularly, of course, The Silo but this was my first visit to the showrooms out to the dockland regeneration at Nordhavn and the Pakhus buildings including Fritz Hansen, Gubi and Arper and the textile company Kvadrat. and it really is impressive ... though slightly difficult to get to through the building works and ever changing road layout of the development area. But even this seems completely relevant ... a proactive planning system and a dynamic building programme are without doubt a major driving force for the furniture and interiors industries. A number of important Danish architectural practices work with design companies and furniture manufacturers - not just designing new show spaces but in some cases designing furniture or product ranges - for instance the architectural practice Norm with Menu and &Tradition.
Nyt i Bo, the major and well-established furniture shop on Store Kongensgade had cleared away their stock and converted the broad run of window space to a large exhibition area where they hosted displays by Flos, the lighting company and MA/U Studio, a new design company producing shelving and tables (more of them in a later post).
Through the courtyard there was more and the apartments in the building above and running down to the corner, reached either through Nyt i Bo itself or from a separate entrance from Frederiksgade, has a rapidly-growing community of designers, studios and showrooms. The anchor company is Getama who take up I think three of the large original apartments on an upper floor to show their furniture in a succession of rooms that were recently redecorated in appropriate and striking colour schemes with the Danish paint company Flügger. On lower floors are the kitchen designers &SHUFL, the new design company for tiles and wall panels called FILE UNDER POP, the furniture company ONECOLLECTION and the furniture company PLEASE WAIT TO BE SEATED. It’s a phrase I don’t really like but here it seems appropriate to describe this building as a 'design destination'. It is amazing now but when the works for the metro are completed and there is a metro station immediately outside then the potential for this area would seem to be extremely promising … to rather understate the obvious.
Frederiksgade 1 ... slightly lost behind the construction works for the Metro
For me perhaps the most interesting opening was for the new Rud. Rasmussen showroom that is opposite the Carl Hansen showroom on Bredgade. The display area is on two floors, the street level and the basement, but is very small. The main promotion is for the Faaborg chair by Kaare Klint and a work bench has been reconstructed to show just how much work and how much craftsmanship goes into the production of these chairs.
To follow over the next couple of days are a number of separate posts on some of the companies and designers visited and a number of the more obvious developments and themes of the 3daysofdesign event.