northmodern - the furniture and design fair in Copenhagen - was held at the Bella Center from 13th to the 15th of January.
Walking around the event, it was obvious immediately that this was an extensive and complicated but carefully curated mix of companies and individuals with stands from major manufacturers; displays by companies who are retailers of furniture and household design; designers and architects and schools of design as well as independent makers so the event showed not only many aspects of the design industry but showed how they interlink and relate to each other.
In part northmodern is still a trade fair with manufacturers and importers exhibiting current ranges and, of course, new products to retailers … so buyers for larger stores and owners of independent shops in the region could be seen selecting and ordering new stock. This part of a design fair is as much about manufacturer and buyer knowing the tastes and preferences of the target customers as it is about design as such but it is a fascinating part of the design industry for these are the people in a strong position to encourage new trends in the way that homes throughout the region will be furnished.
The event provided a major opportunity for young designers to show their work to potential clients but it was also a chance for designers socialise … to meet up and see each other’s work. This year there was a large area devoted to new talent and to schools of design - the next generation of designers - with extensive displays by recent graduates from the Royal Academy in Copenhagen, students from the Technical School in Copenhagen and by students who had taken part in the design competition of FSC - the Forest Stewardship Council.
One hall concentrated on the work of craftsmen including cabinetmakers, glass blowers and ceramicists with a large exhibition of works by the group who are about to open Den Danske Keramikfabrik - their new ceramic factory on Bornholm.
northmodern is also an opportunity for designers to celebrate their work - OK show off but in a good way - with exhibitions of new work. Too few took the opportunity to try a bit of bravado even if it might mean stripping back and simplifying a concept for large scale production. Maybe that’s unfair because unfortunately the reality of economic pressures means that games and fun can be seen to be a bit profligate or self indulgent.
With short talks and discussions, given through the course of the event, it was an opportunity to hear about and discuss new ideas and find out about how and where designers see their work developing. As in August last year, there was a strong contribution by designers from Brussels but this time given more space in a central area so it was possible to see where the approach to design in Belgium differs from the general styles and forms seen in the work of young Danish designers.
There were also interesting displays from what are sometimes called ‘life style’ companies so for instance several manufacturers of bicycles. And, of course, food companies and coffee stands were carefully chosen so the event was showing the very best of design across a huge range of products.