Dinesen, the Danish floorboard company, did not have a major exhibition in their showrooms in Copenhagen this year for 3daysofdesgn but I called in there on the way to look at the new showrooms for by Lassen that are on the third floor of the same building Søtorvet.
They have an amazing display that runs down the centre of the showroom with the base of a Douglas fir with the bark still attached but sawn through into enormous planks. A visitor had counted the tree rings and the fir, from a forest in South Germany, is thought to have been 117 years old when it was felled.
In from the base, more bark has been removed and the sawn planks are more obvious and then from there, running on down the showroom, is a table made from planks from the tree that are 50 metres long. FIFTY METRES.
It's truly astounding and it shows, in perhaps the most tangible way possible, that the Danish love of wood for furniture is not just about style or taste but about a deep understanding of timber and an appreciation of it's importance and a deep knowledge that comes from experience and decades … no not decades but actually centuries of working with wood in this country.
Just a few days earlier I had taken family, who were visiting, to the Viking Museum in Roskilde. The ships there - dating from the 11th century and excavated from the fiord in the 1960s - are stunningly beautiful and amazing for their size; for their striking design and for their engineering and above all because they show that shipbuilders in Roskilde a thousand years ago were masters of the skills needed to work with the timber and understood how to realise designs that were strong and did service for decades.
Outside, in the area between the museum building and the water of the fiord, there was a demonstration of various shipbuilding skills, using traditional techniques, and one craftsman was dressing the surface of a split timber plank with an axe. A tree trunk had been split with wedges then than being sawn … aa ancient technique that meant thin planks could be formed that took into account the twists and natural faults in the wood. With a few swings with the axe, the surface of the plank was taken back from rough fibres and splinters to a surface that was smooth and almost unblemished.
If anyone wants to know just why Danish furniture in wood is so good then the answer is simple … all it takes is a 1,000 years of experience.
Vikingeskibs Museet, Roskild