The Danish Chair


Part of the collection of modern chairs at Designmuseum Danmark, has been moved into a newly refurbished space in one of the long narrow galleries in the south wing to the right of the entrance.

The new display is stunning and with each chair shown in a self-contained box and with good lighting and clear succinct labels it is possible to really appreciate each piece of furniture. The chairs are arranged on three levels … the middle row at about eye level, the lower chairs angled up and the upper tier angled down slightly so the gallery has something of the feel of a barrel shape or barrel vault and each chair is angled to optimise the view point for the visitor. Of course, there are some down sides in that it is not as easy to get a sense of the chair as a three-dimensional work but this new arrangement does let you get very close to look at details and for the middle and upper rows it is possible for the first time here to see the underside of the chairs if you are interested to see how they are constructed.

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The Danish Chair - an international affair Designmuseum Danmark

Johansen Skovsted Arkitekter at DAC


the entrance to the gallery with model of Tipperne Bird Watch Tower at a scale of 1:10

This exhibition of the work of Søren Johansen and Sebastian Skovsted is the last of a series of three exhibitions in the Dreyer Gallery at the Danish Architecture Centre that over the Autumn have focused on young architects in Copenhagen.

To quote from the pamphlet that accompanies the exhibition: "The series … will give visitors and the industry special insight into the dynamic daily practice and reality of these firms, where creativity and business savvy go hand in hand.”

Clearly, business acumen is important if an architectural practice is to succeed and expand but actually one theme that linked the three architecture studios - Johansen Skovsted, Norrøn and Sted is their strong awareness of place and and a strong empathy for nature that seems to be the starting point for all their work.

For Søren Johansen and Sebastian Skovsted, architecture "is about finding a place in the world and setting the stage for our interactions with each other ... we view architecture as a way to play with the landscapes, cities and buildings, saturated with meaning and history, that makes up the world as we know it. In construction, materials, form and space, architecture becomes the creation of the place anew ... "


the exhibition continues at Danish Architecture Centre in Copenhagen until 15th January 2017

Johansen Skovsted


Skjem Å - Pump Station North transformed as a new visitor facility 

Courtyard Nørrehus, Nørrebro, Copenhagen - many of the large older housing schemes are apartments around a large courtyard that initially had laundry drying yards, dustbins, and, in many, toilet or bath blocks, As the buildings have been upgraded and improved, many of these courtyards have been cleared or rationalised and landscaped to provide important communal garden spaces with play equipment for children, places for eating outside or, at the very least, a quiet pleasant place to look over from windows or balconies

the exhibition included portfolios of presentation drawings ... a good way for a non-professional but interested visitor to see how the schemes evolved and to see some of the technical details ... the real complexity beneath a structure that ostensibly seems quite simple or straightforward



This exhibition was shown first in Milan in April 2016 as one of the events of the annual design week in the city. As with the comparable exhibition last year - Mindcraft15 - it was curated and the display was designed by GamFratesi - the Danish Italian design partnership of Stine Gam and Enrico Fratesi. It was organised by the Danish Arts Foundation and the Agency for Culture and Palaces.

There are works here from 17 designers or design studios and the pieces demonstrate not only a very high level of craftsmanship but the works in different ways explore boundaries we seem to impose between craftsmanship and product design and art. Materials include ceramic and wood and textiles but there is also a light installation and music.

The main theme is the imagination and the intellectual process of design - that balance between understanding the materials and the techniques to be used but then wanting to push boundaries - to question, to inform, extend and develop ideas and challenge our preconceptions about how something should look and question what we want and why and how we value art and craft works and how we use objects. It’s about alternatives and discovering new possibilities.  

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Mindcraft16 at Designmuseum Danmark in Copenhagen until 8th January 2017

Norrøn - territory for dreaming


This is the second of a series of three exhibitions in the Dreyer’s Architecture Gallery at the Danish Architecture Centre with each exhibition running for about six weeks to profile the work of younger, more-recently established architectural practices from Copenhagen. The first was Sted; the work of Norrøn is the subject of this exhibition and the third, from early in December, will be the architectural partnership of Johansen Skovsted.

Perhaps the most important link between the three is that all, besides being young architects, have a strong sense of place in their work … not just a strong sense of nature and landscape but the specific character and qualities of a location that has to be the starting point for any architectural project. Maybe this seems obvious but the contrast with large and commercially-driven development is that the sense of place can often be relegated by the astute assessment of the plot and its potential ... at its worst, development reduced to a calculation of square metres against realisable value, that often results in a much less sensitive approach to context.


Given that awareness of place, and their clear sensitivity to specific places, it struck me as slightly curious that Norrøn chose to make the centrepiece of their exhibition a mythical island and a steeply mountainous and apparently tropical island with models of their projects placed around that landscape. It made for a dramatic use of the space but there was a disjunct simply because much of their work has been on coastal marshes and beaches … stunningly beautiful sites but very very very flat. 

Each model had a large postcard about the project and visitors could take a copy and collect together the full series of cards to form a catalogue … a simple idea that has been used and worked well in earlier exhibitions at the Centre.

The style of the cards - not just the soft line work of the graphics but also the muted tones of soft brown grey was striking and is reminiscent of the images collected together by the English architect John Pawson in A Visual Inventory but even paler to pick up the colours of the dried grasses and reeds on many of the marginal seascapes of these sites.


Many of the projects are for visitor centres or small hotels or lodges including the Blue Plateau beach park and designs for the Dune Hotel overlooking the north sea at Blåvand, a dark-sky observatory on the island of Møn, a viewing tower at the bird sanctuary of Lyttesholm, Lolland and visitor centres on the pilgrimage route on Møn, Camønoen, and for the castle ruins of Hammershus on the island of Bornholm.

There is a complex but significant approach that seems to link all these projects and that is to restore sites by removing intrusive or unsympathetic buildings, to put in place clear conservation plans to ensure the natural sites of sand dunes or coastal cliffs survive but also to build new and carefully-designed buildings to draw in new visitors, particularly where areas are suffering from economic decline or from a reduction in the population as people move from rural economies to the city.

The buildings generally, whatever their actual scale, have a simple monumentality and use natural materials but unselfconscious modern forms. This is perhaps the hallmark of the most successful Danish architectural conservation … to consolidate landscape or historic buildings but generally not resort to restoring by replicating or imitating the historic past.

This is particularly clear in the project by Norrøn to restore abandoned houses in the Danish countryside in Lolland, Guldborgsund and Vordingborg to create holiday homes to revitalise the local economy. The plans produced so far seem to have a respect for the vernacular traditions of the area but simplify the spaces and the interior finishes to give a practical and simple result that also fits clearly with that aspect of the Danish design aesthetic.


Norrøn - territory for dreaming continues at the Danish Architecture Centre until the end of November

Our Urban Living Room - Learning from Copenhagen

A major exhibition has opened at the Danish Architecture Centre which focuses on the work of the Danish studio of Cobe arkitekter but, in a much broader sense, the exhibitions also explores crucial aspects of urban planning … the current and the future role that planning has in the enhancement of our built environment and the way that architecture and planning together can and must encourage the use of public space in our cities and towns for a huge variety of activities.

What is shown here - with models, drawings, photographs and text - are specific projects completed by Cobe over the last decade or so - the remodelling of Israels Plads; the remodelling of the street space above Nørreport railway station; the building of new libraries and schools in the city and all with a very strong and positive planning agenda - but these are also clever and innovative projects that tell us much about the meeting point of public and private space; about the way that politicians and planners determine appropriate policies for how public space is used and shows how much citizens need and how much they appreciate public space and how they use that space in increasingly inventive ways.


a fascinating photograph that shows the street level above Nørreport station covered in snow where the patterns of footprints and bike tracks replicates the original study of routes across the space that determined the position of the bike racks and so on


previous posts on work from Cobe:

Israels Plads

Nørreport Station

Forfatterhuset Kindergarten

Our Urban Living Room at the Danish Architecture Centre, Strandgade 27B, Copenhagen continues until 8th January 2017

KADK exhibition of graduate work 2016

The annual exhibition of the work of graduates from KADK …  Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademis Skoler for Arkitektur, Design og Konservering… continues until the 21st August.

This is project work by 162 newly-qualified architects and 80 designers. Themes covered reflect current concerns about the environment, sustainability and, on the architecture side, adapting existing buildings to new uses or fitting new demands, in terms of evolving life style or new expectations, within an existing urban landscape. 

What is fascinating is to see that courses and projects set by academic staff clearly reflect major new concerns that the formal education and training system has to respond to now but the projects also show the personal concerns and interests of this, the next generation of architects and designers, as they grapple with and resolve these problems with huge amounts of energy and considerable imagination.

Student projects are divided into the separate teaching disciplines … so Building Design and Culture; Building Design Technology; Building and Landscape Design; Art and Design; Product Design and the work of the Institute of Visual Design … but there are recurring themes across the disciplines such as the exploration of the potential of new materials; to balance that, a focus on new ways to use traditional building materials and building techniques such as timber framing and a focus on using marginal land … both less hospitable topographies as climate change means the occupation of more extreme environments and the need to reuse difficult brown-field sites in densely built cities rather than encroaching further on agricultural land beyond a city boundary.

Over the next week or so more detailed assessments of some of the projects will be posted on this site. 



Afgangsudstilling Sommer 2016

KADK, Danneskiold-Samsøes Allé 51, 1435 Copenhagen K

continuing until the 21st August 2016 and open every day from 11.00 to 18.00

admission free

Japanese art, design and influence


Learning from Japan is the major exhibition for this year at Designmuseum Danmark in Copenhagen.

It includes items added to the collection in the early years of the museum when it was first established in the late 19th century and then looks at how Japanese art inspired artists, designers and collectors in Denmark; how Danish craftsmen and artists first travelled to Japan to study there and also looks at how Danish design has been appreciated in Japan.

The exhibition includes prints, ceramics, textiles and furniture from the collections of the museum as well as jewellery and sword fittings.

In conjunction with the exhibition, a major book, Influences from Japan in Danish Art and Design by Mirjam Gelfer-Jørgensen, formerly Chief Librarian and Deputy Director of the museum, has been published by The Danish Architectural Press.



The exhibition continues at Designmuseum Danmark through to September 2017

Vinterbyen - Winter City


A new exhibition opened today at the Danish Architecture Centre in Copenhagen that looks at ways to encourage more active use of the streets and squares and public spaces of the city through the dark months of Winter.

Copenhagen has amazing parks and squares that are incredibly well used through the Summer months with both organised and informal events … there are fairs and open-air exhibitions, plenty of sports, play areas for children are amazing and people eat outside as much as possible. As the days get shorter, cafes and restaurants and bars bravely continue for as long as possible to have tables outside by using space heaters and blankets but inevitably there is much less use of outdoor spaces as the days get shorter and the nights get colder and much much longer.

This exhibition looks at several schemes in the city to encourage more people to use outdoor spaces more during the Winter and there are information panels showing programmes in other countries to get people outside more through the Winter. It’s in part a way to encourage people to continue exercising outside in the fresh air (or very fresh air) and in part a way to make full use of the cities amenities but also the exhibition makes the point that some people feel that darker, quieter streets seem disconcerting or even more threatening but with better lighting and more people it is amazing just how quickly that sense lifts. 

From January there will be five new projects co-ordinated through Platant with a Winter Sidewalk, Winter Lights, a Winter Park, a Winter Square and a Winter Garden in different parts of the city and in Frederiksberg. There is a booklet with an introduction about these project and a map for people to explore the sites.

With the opening of the exhibition today there was a Solstice Party on the quayside in front of the Architecture Centre organised in partnership with Platant and Kulturhavn 365 with music, braziers, warm wine and pancakes cooked over an open fire bowl. A good start.



Winter City, Danish Architecture Centre, Strandgade, Copenhagen 

from 18th December through to the 21st February.

reclining at Designmuseum Danmark


In the gallery to the right of the entrance at Designmuseum Danmark in Copenhagen is a new display of reclining chairs from the collection. 

A recliner tends to be a rather special piece of furniture anyway - much larger than an armchair and requiring more space it tends to be a “look-at-me” piece in any room - but here in the gallery, placed together but given space, they become dramatic sculptures particularly as the museum has picked up the display design used for the current Mindcraft15 exhibition with full-length mirrors on the side walls and spot lights rather than a more general lighting so there are dramatic shadows.

Curiously the furniture gains. You obviously see the importance of shape, silhouette and line - these pieces are very elegant - and you can see just how well made they are and also appreciate how carefully most of the pieces use texture and contrast with woven seating wrapped around steel or woven linen across a wood frame.

These really are virtuoso pieces of furniture.


The City of Jewellery

The space above the Trinitatis Church in Copenhagen, formerly the university library and a store for royal antiquities, is now used for exhibitions. Climbing the tower this evening I caught the last day of the exhibition called The City of Jewellery organised by the Copenhagen Guild of Goldsmiths in conjunction with open days, exhibitions and events at the work shops and show rooms of 38 workers in precious metals around the city.

Down the centre of the space was a time line tracing events associated with the Guild and its craftsmen from 1400 with some historic pieces including silver cups and the treasure chest of the guild. New works on display used a wide variety of materials to produce jewellery and vessels and other works of art in an amazing variety of styles.

Groundbreaking Constructions


Or to give the exhibition its full title:

Groundbreaking Constructions - 100 Danish Breakthroughs that Changed the World.

This is an important exhibition at the Danish Architecture Centre in Copenhagen that initially appears to be simple - presenting 100 constructions under a catchy newspaper-style headline title - but in fact sets out a lot of background material and explains complex and challenging problems that had to be resolved and, in many cases, discusses ideas about planning decisions and the politics behind the design of these major projects. 

The first section of the exhibition looks in detail at eight major building or engineering projects with photographs, films and some striking models that illustrate complex partnerships between architects and engineers working together with a client to produce ground-breaking constructions.

  • The Great Belt Bridge by Dissing + Weitling with the engineers COWI completed in 1998.
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Riyadh by Henning Larsen Architects from 1994
  • The Trans Iranian Railway begun in 1931 by Kampsax
  • The Sydney Opera House by Jørn Utzon
  • The Grand Arch in Paris by Johann Otto von Spreckelsen and the engineer Erik Reitzel
  • Amager Resource Centre in Copenhagen by BIG
  • Great Gabbard Windfarm
  • The International Criminal Court in the Hague by Schmidt Hammer Lassen


Here there are different levels of information with videos, large images and the main panels of text but each section also has a desk or table top spread with drawings, photographs and books and in each area there is a chair so you are encouraged to spend time looking in more detail. Light levels are low and each section is separate and set in it’s own tight space. So, with no sense of fixed progress along a carefully controlled sequence … as you might do in a traditional art gallery … the arrangement is closer to the way we can use the internet to move through and explore information quickly but click down to more complex or more detailed information where we want or need to find out more.

The second room of the exhibition is a more open and brighter space and here ground-breaking constructions are divided into five groups, each represented by a main project that is shown as a film on the upper part of the wall and below, spread along a sloping display shelf running round the space, there are further examples as double-sided cards with a photograph and on the flip side basic information and an assessment of what makes that project innovative or particularly significant. This is primarily a catalogue but is a good way to show variations on a theme.

Those five main themes are:

  • Industry represented by Fiberline Composites A/S
  • Infrastructure with Cykelslanger - the Bicycle Snake - in Copenhagen
  • Housing represented by Søndergård Park
  • Public Projects represented by DOKK 1 in Aarhus Harbour by Schmidt Hammer Lassen
  • Cultural Projects represented by the new Moesgaard Museum by Henning Larsen Architects


For children, but also good for adults if you are a bit uncertain about engineering terms, there is an area where common construction principles are explained. There are two large arches with separate wedge-shaped blocks of covered foam to demonstrate how, even when there is no mortar, an arch is completed and held together by the final element, the key block, at the top. Tension and compression in structures are explained and there are illustrations of post and lintel engineering and drawings showing the way a Da-Vinci Bridge is formed. Wood blocks and splints and straws with link elements are provided by a work table where you can try to make your own bridges and arches and domes. There is even a tank of soapy liquid and a wire frame forming a cube to show the structural principle of bubbles that inspired the form of that Great Arch in Paris.

read the long review

The exhibition continues at the Danish Architecture Centre in Copenhagen until 3 January

Fang din by … Capture your city


This exhibition shows the entries for an open competition that asked for photographs of Copenhagen taken through this summer … snap shots rather than conventional postcard or travel-magazine views … with scenes that reflected the way people live in the city, how and where people meet and how they use the harbour, the streets, squares, buildings, and parks of the city.

A large selection of the photographs submitted have been shown as snaps pasted across one wall while a few have been printed out at a larger size.

There was also a competition for images submitted through Instagram on the three separate themes of The Smile, The Secret and The Meeting.


The exhibition continues at the Danish Architecture Centre in Copenhagen until 30 November

One to One

An exhibition of selected works from projects by architectural students on the master’s programme from 2012 to 2015. The models have been chosen to show how students approach challenges set in the different workshops. Some of the schemes are imaginary and explore abstract ideas and others relate to a specific place. Larger models explore volume, space and surface as well as the effect of light and shadow and there are some full-scale pieces to show aspects of unconventional or complex facades.

One to One continues at KADK until 25 October


Umspiral by Henrik Vibskov


This is a stunning and magical and slightly odd exhibition.

To start with stunning and magical ….. the exhibition was first shown in Milan in the Spring and was designed and curated by the Danish-Italian partnership GamFratesi - Stine Gam and Enrico Fratesi. Fourteen works of craft by nineteen leading Danish designers and craftspeople were chosen including woven hangings, ceramics, furniture and interesting objects like an ‘umbrella’ but with a carpenter’s hand drill immediately above the traditional curved cane handle so that the piece can be rotated by the person carrying it. This is Umspiral by the fashion designer Henrik Vibskov and its covering, rather than being the conventional umbrella shape, has the form of a long spiral like an apple peeling or, probably more appropriate, it is reminiscent of one of the helicopter-like inventions drawn by Leonardo da Vinci. 

The exhibition aims to move into the realm of conceptual art … an area where, using imagination - the mind part of the title - GamFratesi challenges and blurs our view of what we might assume to be art and what we define as craft.

The works stand on mirrors that cover the whole floor of the gallery and are contained or protected or isolated by large frameworks that are in black and are round in plan but gently bell-shaped in profile. Each element is a quarter sphere so when two are placed together they enclose the work completely and reflections in the mirrors of the floor complete the cage to form a sphere. Set on their side the open cages create a complete circle with the reflection in the floor like a cave.

I can see the symbolism here. The metal-framed dome is reminiscent of garden features called gazebos, common in England in the 18th and 19th centuries, but deriving from Italian and French designs. These gazebos are a feature in the garden that you look at from a distance and are a destination for a ride or walk but once you get there, not only do you admire the architecture of the gazebo, but, usually set on a high point, you also gaze out over and admire the landscape. So here in Mindcraft you are looking at the framework of the exhibition, looking at items carefully isolated within each but also looking out and across to other works. 

The windows of the gallery are covered and as you enter you have to put on shoe covers to protect the mirror floor that you are walking on so … this is the odd part … it is a strangely detached World that you enter. Magical but odd. I spent a long time in the galleries waiting for people to leave so I could have the space to myself because that was when it seemed to be at it’s best. With other people in the gallery, the strange views of people reflected in the glass as you look down and their odd comments and so on were distracting. But, it was interesting to watch the reaction of the different visitors - some were absorbed, walking slowly and quietly as if in a church, and others gestured wildly and talked loudly breaking the atmosphere - admirable enthusiasm - but annoying.

Some of the works are not quite up to being isolated and being the focus of attention in this way but other pieces are brilliant. 

A general theme for the exhibition was ‘in between’ which worked well with the works that were multiples emphasising both a shape and the spaces.


Point of View by Jakob Wagner is a bench that is formed out of thin vertical slices that are kept apart by transparent spacers and are coloured red on one side and a deep blue on the other so the colour ripples and changes as you move around - heightened by the mirror reflection in the floor and by the way, at certain angles, individual pieces, reflecting the colour of the opposite side of the next segment, take on a luminous intermediate colour.

Point of View by Jakob Wagner



Fontanella, a simple white cone-shaped vessel in porcelain with a green angled stripe by Claydies, the partnership of Tine Broksø and Karen Kjældgaard-Larsen, was set as a multiple and the reflections created amazing shapes so the harder you looked the more the division between actual ceramic and mirror image of ceramic dissolved and it became more and more elusive, taking on the form of a decorative sculpture.

Fontanella by Claydies - Tine Broksø and Karen Kjældgaard-Larsen


In the same way, Open 1, 2 and 3 - large drawings by Louise Campbell in spidery and elegant red lines spaced along the wall seemed to dance with their reflections in the floor.

Open 1, 2 and 3 by Louise Campbell


Labels are kept to a minimum, with just simple titles in black lettering on the floor, but there is an initial gallery with extensive information panels so it really is worth spending time reading about the works or there is a good web site with profiles of the artists and their work.


The exhibition continues at Designmuseum Danmark in Copenhagen until 31 January 2016.


Basic Bar by Ole Jensen


Dish -Between Earth and Sky by Tora Urup and Selfie by Eske Rex


Terroir by Edvard-Steenfatt

Den Nya Kartan - Form Design Center Malmö


An initial report by Jenny Nordberg, begun in 2013 and completed through 2014, looked at how small-scale production of furniture, ‘gadgets’ and other design objects could be part of a sustainable community within Skåne, a clearly defined and relatively small region. The report considered ethical values in consumption and looked generally at production and at manufacturing skills surviving in southern Sweden. In part it seems to have followed a growing desire that more food should be produced locally. 

One aim of the consequent project is to reduce transport costs for both materials and for finished goods but also it was hoped that focusing design and production locally would also mean that there would be fewer intermediaries in the commercial chain. 

Early in 2015 twenty-four designers were selected along with twenty-four manufacturers to collaborate in the project. They were chosen in part for their curiosity about the project but also for their openness to trying new business partnerships.

Many of the designers had worked both locally and internationally and the manufacturers ranged in scale from craftsmen, who are generally geared up to small production runs, to companies organised for larger-scale production. Each partnership was given freedom to determine what they would produce and how and much came down to developing personal as well as working relationships.

This project has also been about testing the form of collaboration, between designer and manufacturer, and aimed to establish a more equitable financial arrangement that moved away from the normal pattern of royalties for rights to reproduce a design to agreements where the designers and manufacturers share the expenses incurred in development and initial production but then also share the revenue.

Items or objects produced through the project cover a wide range of materials and manufacturing techniques including blown glass, ceramics, metal work, leather work and textiles and a wide range of items from stacking boxes to storage jars to lighting to jewellery and a champagne table.

That last item emphasises one curious aspect of the works presented. It would appear from the introduction to the exhibition that the designers and manufacturers were given freedom to choose what they would produce. Jenny Nordberg, who also curated the exhibition, commented on this:

“As a curator, I imagined that most people would design and produce saleable inexpensive items to show that it actually does not need to be particularly expensive by local production. There, I thought wrong. It has instead been mostly projects where both designers and manufacturers wanted to challenge themselves and show the breadth of their skills. Many of the projects … are unique, conceptual, luxurious, on the verge of unfeasible and overall, just amazing.”


Biophillia - Stoft & Zol Art

Unisex-kimono-kofta - Liv Andersson & Biommiga Gredelina

Vaporware Fluid

Andréson & Leibel och Humi-Glas (samt JFKemi)

Spegelrör   Petra Lilja & Wallåkra Stenkårlsfabrik


Petra Lilja & Wallåkra Stenkårlsfabrik


Milan Kosovic & Thomas Alexandrsson


Sophia Lithell & Herman Andersson Plåt


Patrik Bengtsson & Genarps Lådfabrik


It is not clear if this shows that designers or manufacturers were concerned primarily to showcase their skills but that seems unlikely given the well-established careers and reputations of most. Possibly they wanted to use the opportunity to produce things they would not normally be able to work on. It could be more of a problem, in terms of ongoing viability and the possibility of extending the project, if they all felt that reasonable financial returns would only be possible through producing more expensive items or if they thought that their potential market would not be interested in buying just basic items. Perhaps it is simply that, at this initial stage in this project, more basic designs - so everyday household items such as tableware - actually need a much larger production run to return a profit.


All the designs are available through the web site.

The exhibition continues at Form Design Center in Malmö until the 15th November and then transfers first to the National Museum in Stockholm and then in 2016 to Vandalorum in Värnamo.

Den Nya Kartan - The New Map