3daysofdesign in Copenhagen is now a massive event where design companies, design stores and many of the manufacturers open their doors to show what the city does in the world of design. It's an opportunity to launch new designs or new versions of classic designs or to launch new companies or celebrate significant anniversaries.
There are events at Designmuseum Danmark and at other galleries and museums through the city and workshops and demonstrations are common but it is also a major chance for designers and makers and companies to socialise … it comes after the pressure of the big furniture fairs of Stockholm and Milan and really is a key point on the calendar to mark the start of summer.
This year there were some 90 venues across the whole city and even a cyclists, powering around the streets, would be hard-pressed to get to everything at the right time in the right sequence.
So the following posts are not the highlights but my highlights from the three days.
Design Werck, on the canal at Krudtløbsvej, showed the work of the forty or so companies that now use the gallery as their base in Copenhagen and with many of the designers and makers there to talk about their work.
There were special demonstrations … for instance an afternoon of smocking … but above all it was an opportunity to meet and chat … the design community here were entertaining friends and family and all and any visitor that dropped by and wanted to discover or understand more about what was designed or made.
Food here was Danish and served out from breakfast and onwards but given a good west-coast sense with Henry Seymour serving out amazing oysters for a Danish brunch and there was gin and tonic each evening.
The main display, specifically for 3daysofdesign, was organised in conjunction with Business Finland to show the furniture and products of designers and companies from Finland.
The north end of the gallery was cleared and then restyled as a Finnish cottage with the furniture, lighting, textiles and wallpaper and so on shown in a more-obviously domestic context.
Companies from Finland showing here include: BEdesign; be&liv; bonden; Eco Furn; Fasetti; FINARTE; GEDIGO; GOODIO; HUKKA DESIGN;KRISTIINA LASSUS; Magisso; moimoi; NIKARI; NORD-T; PISA DESIGN SUSTAINABLE TEXTILES; SECTO DESIGN; Teemu Järvi Illustrations; GRÖnlund; VALLILA and woodio
This independent furniture shop on Store Kongensgade actually shares a courtyard with Frederiksgade 1 - see below.
They sell a good and carefully-chosen range of modern furniture and rugs and lamps and so on. For 3daysofdesign they clear much of the ground-floor showroom for companies to show specific ranges or specific pieces.
This year there were two companies in particular that stood out for highlighting two very important ideas that have to be considered now if Danish design and Danish furniture production are to thrive actually in the country together … not about Danish design as a concept or as a style but Danish design and Danish manufacture thriving and moving forward together in Denmark.
Anton Assaad was there to represent the company Great Dane that he established in Melbourne in Australia in 2002. His store sells top of the range Danish furniture including cabinets by Kai Kristiansen and the large leather-covered armchair V11 by Illum Wikkelsø that are made in Denmark. The key to his business formulae seems to be identifying and appreciating major designs that are no longer in production and then, working with the families or the old companies, he gains licences to restart production to a very very high standard with quality being the paramount consideration.
At almost the opposite end of the commercial spectrum were two cabinetmakers who are together Risskov Møbelsnedkeri. They showed furniture designed and made by them but the main design for 3daysofdesign was their arm chair also designed by Kai Kristiansen in the 1960s so again a classic chair. This is a typical form of chair that was relatively common in the catalogues of several manufacturers through the 60s with a simple frame of wood with wooden arms and with simple square cushions for the seat and back. France & Son produced several variations by Ole Wanscher and Illum Wikkeslsø designed Lænestol Nr 4 in 1959 and Poul Volther designed Model 390 in 1961.
This particular design by Kai Kristiansen is very close to what we had at home when I was a kid and my parents called 'contemporary' design.
the original form for the seat with loops of wire and the new support for the seat cushion
The important thing here is the quality of the work and the appropriate technical changes that have been made by Risskov Møbelsnedkeri to bring the chair up to date … so the thin coated wire springs under tension that formed the support of the seat cushion in the original chairs have been replaced with taut material that does not stretch and where the original chair was shipped as a flatpack that, to some extent, compromised the strength of the frame, these chairs are completely assembled and finished in the workshop.
The materials for the upholstery is quite-rightly from Kvadrat.
Design stores throughout the city put on special events for 3daysofdesign but Normann can always be relied on to have dramatic displays in their store in Østerbro.
For this year, the sharp pinks of last year have gone and for now the huge space of the main part of the store has been subdivided by massive grey curtains that drop the full height and form spaces for room-like displays but with mirrors and large bold stacks of blocks to display chairs and the effect is certainly theatrical.
The company took this opportunity - the events of 3daysofdesign - to launch their new Tivoli Collection. The most obvious pieces are a new take on traditional Danish wooden toys in bold colours but, more significant, is a new co-ordinated range of home accessories all taking as a starting point the inspiration of the pleasure gardens of Tivoli in Copenhagen. The launch was during 3daysofdesign but the full range will be available from the Autumn so ready for the build up to Christmas.
This is certainly an interesting development. Most furniture and design companies produce ranges of objects from novelty tableware to candleholders to purely decorative ornaments that supplement the main range of furniture and the more practical but often unexciting ranges of basic and practical household items like plates or bowls or flatware and if you know your design world you can spot what are obviously company colours or typical shapes or even predictable materials but here, with the Tivoli Collection, there is a very deliberate rethink of over 300 pieces to create coherence … so much so that Normann themselves are talking about the Tivoli Brand.
From the start, Normann were noted for the colours they used, usually on bold deliberately simple and uncluttered shapes for their furniture, and they were one of the first companies to mark a clear rejection of the more conservative Danish colour palette of the late 20th century and the first decade of this century … so they replaced pale natural colours with strong and deep colours for fabrics.
Maybe, with the Tivoli Collection - with the use of much more decoration and the use of gold and so on - Normann are again heading a different move away from the stripped back and uncluttered rooms normally associated with Scandinavian homes to something that many will feel reflects more complicated and more individual lives. To me it seems a bit like a return to the days of Biba in London and the very first collections of Habitat … not the simple designs from Scandinavia and Germany that Conran introduced to British homes but the Moroccan rugs, the rope plant holders, candles and brass watering cans that filled his stores and pulled people in. Essentially, looking at that change as a social historian, it was all about a break away from post-war austerity … about individuality and about young adults wanting to buy things that were interesting and hinted at excitement and travel and a broader more open viewpoint …so perhaps the more ornate accessories from Normann mark that point where cool and rational Scandinavian design seemed too much or, rather, too little for getting away from austerity economics.
3daysofdesign - the big annual design event in Copenhagen - begins on 24th May
The programme is now available on the event site ... with so many companies and studios and manufacturers opening their doors and with exhibitions in so many different venues - including embassies - then it is well worth planning your route ahead and using the transport set up for the three days
Skandinavisk - the people who make scented candles and diffusers and, more recently, a range of perfume oils, soaps and hand creams - have opened a pop up shop in Værnedamsvej in Copenhagen and they will be open until 26th April.
Although this is a short-term venture, a huge amount of work and care has gone into the design of the space from the customised front window - matching the graphics of their cotton carrier bags - through to the pine display shelving and the use of greenery.
They have produced Voices ... a magazine to explain the company ethos … with images and interviews reminiscent of life-style magazines like Cereal. That is certainly not a bad thing … just a very good way to explain their approach. There are interviews with an editor; a photographer; a food stylist and a publisher - one with photographs of her home on one of the smaller Danish islands; one with her home in a Swedish forest; one who grew up in a small community on a fjord outside Oslo and - to complete the Nordic set - the publisher is from Helsinki.
So it really is about telling the story of how life in the Nordic countries has inspired the scents Skandinavisk have created.
With this web site I try to tread a distinct path - away from the life-style blogs - but that does not mean that I do not appreciate a story because that’s the way to understand the what and the why and the how.
Certainly what is clear is that, as so often in Denmark, behind the products and the beautiful design is a huge amount of thought and that covers not just what is produced and how it is made but how it is presented and so much depends on the details ... for Danes the over-riding principle with design is if you do something then you do it properly … so here the glass and ceramic candle holders have wood lids; for the white ceramic candle holders the design is raised; the names of each scent are chosen to reflect the mood to describe the mood that scent evokes and, of course, simple but pitch-perfect photographs and graphics.
Værnedamsvej 6, 1620 Copenhagen
Monday to Friday 11.00 - 18.00
Saturday 10.00 - 16.00
image from SKANDINAVISK
22 February 2018
Ole Palsby Design have just announced the addition of a steak knife to their ICHI range of cutlery … both in the matt steel finish and in their unique matt black ICHI TITANIUM cutlery
the Muuto design studio in Copenhagen
It has just been announced that the Danish design company Muuto has been purchased by the well-known American furniture manufacturer Knoll.
Last night there was a party at Design Werck to celebrate the anniversary of the opening of the gallery two years ago.
It was well attended by friends and by many of the designers and companies represented by the gallery … it might not look it in the photograph but then the food and drink was exceptionally good and it was interesting to see that very few people wanted to move away from the kitchen at the other end of the gallery ... even when Birgitte Bjerregaard and Ib Schifter Schou spoke about setting up the gallery and thanked everyone.
Design Werck, Krudtløbsvej 12, Copenhagen
Part of Sunday afternoon was spent looking at the new ARKET store in the old post office building in Købmagergade in Copenhagen so it really was a bit of a fashion day with the time looking at the photographs from Danske magazine on Højbro Plads.
ARKET - a new brand from the Swedish company H&M - opened at the beginning of September so just a week after their first store opened in Regent Street in London and ahead of Brussels and Munich.
One style magazine suggested the brand sits between & Other Stories and COS but I'm not sure exactly what that means although I could understand the point that the magazine went on to make that this is a brand for good-quality basics.
Over the last year or so in Copenhagen I have been to a couple of seminars or discussion sessions where some in the design world here have suggested that furniture and design companies could follow the example of the fashion industry by introducing a stronger sense of a "new season" for designs and move forward with more peripatetic designers and even more manufacture outside the country to keep prices down and give the marketing of design a stronger sense of momentum ... a stronger sense of novelty that the fashion industry has mastered so people should want to want to buy ... to stimulate sales.
I am trying to write a longer post on this but I was curious and interested to see on the H&M web site there is a section on sustainability not just for the materials they source and use but with advice for caring for clothes so they last longer and suggestions for recycling garments. For ARKET they give a short summary of the new brand as …
“a modern-day market that offers essential products for men, women, children and the home, ARKET stores also include a café based on the New Nordic Food Manifesto. ARKET’s mission is to democratise quality through widely accessible, well-made, durable products, designed to be used and loved for a long time.”
It is the second sentence that is important. Could this actually be a major fashion company moving the other way - moving towards the marketing ethos of the best Scandinavian furniture and design companies who promote investment in quality rather than a relentless drive to create and then satisfy a customers desire for novelty?
Certainly it was interesting to see that the men's section does include cashmere jumpers and the jackets for their suits have proper buttonholes on the sleeve cuffs which shows that they really understand both the rules and the traditions of proper tailoring.
Shop fittings included the classic Artek Stool 60 by Alvar Aalto and the home section has the Sarpaneva Pot so both the store designers and the company buyers have a clear sense of Nordic design heritage.
The home section was good … it would actually be interesting to know who their buyer or director of home sales is because they have chosen well and it will be fascinating to see how the home section develops. Again, as with the clothes, these are good basics. And what was also interesting was that the selection of items had a different look and character that is distinct from homeware sold in the H&M stores.
At ARKET they have glass jugs with a pouring lip but straight sided, like a chemistry laboratory beaker, and a similar style of straight-sided jugs and mixing bowls in white china and there is an interesting range of enamelled cookware from Hario; glassware from Duralex and some good plain cushion covers; some simple linen and a range of those Swedish brushes by Iris Hantverk made in workshops for visually impaired workers.
For someone moving into their first unfurnished place then they could make this the first stop for … here's that word again … basics ... the good quality items that would be a good investment.
Back to general points - the historic building seems to have been restored and converted well, with a muted colour scheme of stone and grey. Packaging for underwear and so on was in plain, unbleached cardboard and the café sold fresh coffee and olive oil and other foodie things that were, again, in well-designed simple packaging … hardly revolutionary but never-the-less good to see.
The café was comfortable with well-priced coffee and some fantastic cardamom biscuits so, all in all, a good afternoon.
This Friday - 18th August - is Bredgade Open.
Now a well-established annual event when the galleries, museums and design stores along Bredgade in Copenhagen have open house. It’s a good opportunity to meet people, ask questions, see displays that have been set up for the afternoon and evening and there will be food stalls, drinks and music.
The impressive post building at Øster Allé - on the corner of Fælledparken and close to the football stadium - was designed by Thorvald Jørgensen and was completed in 1922.
It has been converted into a museum of post and telecommunications.
There is still a proper post office counter just inside the main entrance although most of the ground floor is now a spacious and pleasant cafe - Enigma Kantina - with long tables where you are encouraged to talk to other people. They also sell gifts and smaller design items as well as souvenirs related to postal services and there is a sunny courtyard to the side - presumably the yard where postal vans loaded and unloaded.
The square in front of the building has been almost completely taken over by construction works for one of the new Metro Stations so it will be interesting to watch how this area changes and develops over the next few years once the extension to the metro is finished and the station opens in 2018.
Enigma, Øster Allé 1
Discovering Spaces has been the most recent exhibition or reorganisation at Normann Copenhagen.
In the long steel-lined entrance hall is a display of their chairs in some of the many possible configurations that can be chosen and then the large main ground-floor space beyond is now divided by tall blocks in strong colours and lengths of clear ‘butchers’ curtains that create a series of tightly-linked spaces and provide drama for the arrangement of their furniture and the clothing that is sold in the store.
The far high end wall of the space is now boldly striped in dark colours and lengths of carpet that continue down and across the floor.
Velvet-covered pouffs in the lower very pink gallery space are set in groups across the floor and across the ceiling and fixed to the walls … probably not an idea to try at home but actually what the display in the store does show is that blocking diagonal views, changing lighting from one space to another and breaking up space all add drama. Is this designers suggesting a move away from the New York loft look of large expanses of floor in concrete or wide boards … preferably distressed.
Maybe it’s because the Normann show room is in what was an old cinema or maybe it was the dramatic relaunch of the space last year but the glamour does seem to suggest that the inspiration might be less International Modern and more Art Deco.
the December Chair by Jasper Morrison and Wataru Kumano with leather seat and back and the April tables by Alfredo Häberli from the 12 Designs for Nature Collection
detail of the top and edge of a table
Nikari Oy was founded in 1967 by the cabinet maker Kari Vitanen and is now established in Fiskars - the historic settlement, 75 kilometres west of Helsinki, that has grown up around an ironworks dating from the middle of the 17th century.
Nikari have a well-established reputation for the quality of their furniture and for their policy of using sustainable timber.
Their catalogue has a good, wide-ranging collection including chairs, stools, tables, side tables and cabinets, a sofa and garden furniture. All the pieces rely on the natural beauty of the high-quality wood used and the skill of the workmanship … as so often, here simplicity does not mean basic or even furniture that is spartan or minimalist … just uncluttered lines … so square sections to legs and straight plain edges to table tops rather than any mouldings or shaping.
Nikari have worked with an impressive list of designers ... with major Finnish designers including Antrei Hartikainen, Hari Koskinen, Johan Olin and Mikko Paakkanen; Scandinavian designers including Louise Campbell from Denmark and Mårten Claesson, Eero Koivisto and Ole Rune from Sweden as well as making pieces by the British designer Jasper Morrison and there have been recent collaborations with designers from Japan including Wataru Kumano, Motomi Morii, Tomoshi Nagano and Nao Tamura.
One particularly interesting collection in their current catalogue is their Designs for Nature series with each of the 12 pieces identified by a month from a collection of a stool, a bench and a low table designed by Harri Koskinen marking January through to a low chair with a slung seat and back in leather designed by Jasper Morrison and Wataru Kumano for December.
Several of these pieces that celebrate the months were shown at Design Werck.
See the separate post for October - the side chair from the collection designed by Samuli Naamanka
Detail of the December Chair in canvas (above and left) designed by Jasper Morrison and Wataru Kumano and the July table in elm and oak designed by Nao Tamura
samples of types of wood used by Nikari made like building blocks for a child and presented in a box with the clever trick of a hole in the centre of the tray so you can push them out .... attention to every detail of presentation
Mogens Lassen in his studio
The brothers Mogens and Flemming Lassen were born at the beginning of the 20th century. They were contemporaries and friends of Arne Jacobsen - the three were at school together - and all three went on to be architects and furniture designers becoming well-established by the early 1930s. Flemming Lassen and Jacobsen worked together to design Søllerød Town Hall and its furniture and fittings completed in 1942.
The company By Lassen was formed by younger generations of the family to continue the production of designs by Mogens and Flemming Lassen.
For 3daysofdesign their store in Holbersgade in Copenhagen had special displays for visitors with the main level just up from the street laid out as an apartment furnished with designs from the collection and at the lower level - a few steps down from the street - Mogens Lassen’s work room and desk had been recreated with historic photographs, original possessions and early and trial versions of production pieces that are still owned by the family.
There were also architectural drawings and historic photographs of buildings designed by the Lassens - again from the family collection of archive material.
desk and work space of Mogens Lassen recreated in the store with artifacts and archive drawings and historic photographs owned by the family
the work desk with a prototype of the Kubus candle holder designed by Mogens Lassen in 1962
Chair ML33 by Mogens Lassen
My Own Chair designed by Flemming Lassen
As one of the activities arranged at By Lassen for 3daysofdesign, Søren Lassen - the grandson of Mogens Lassen - talked about the famous ML42 three-legged wooden stool that was designed in 1942 and still produced by the company.
Visitors to the store were told about the construction of the distinctive and boldly-shaped seat and how that is finished and were then shown how the legs are fixed to the seat and how the shoulder of the housing and the top of the leg are sanded and smoothed before the oak is then treated or finished with oil.
working drawings shown by Overgaard & Dyrman along with many of the tools that they use to make their metal and leather chairs
The large apartment building at Frederiksgade 1 is close to the Marble Church and has been hemmed in by engineering works for the new metro station so for several years the front entrance has been reduced to a sort of narrow alley fenced across by high dark-green hoardings and has had a ‘temporary’ wooden ramp over the front stone steps.
But this building is home to an amazing group of design companies. In fact it connects through to the furniture store nyt i bo that is sort of across the courtyard at Store Kongensgade 88 … sort of because at upper levels all the apartment spaces, all round the courtyard and above nyt i bo, are occupied by design companies. For design in Copenhagen it is - to use a word I hate using - a hub.
Here there are offices or studios or display space for House of Finn Juhl, File Under Pop, Helle Flou, Overgaard & Dyrman, PLEASE WAIT to be SEATED, Vibeke Fonnesberg Schmidt and others … and, of course, across the top of the whole thing, Getama.
For 3daysofdesign nyt i bo hosted a number of pop-up displays and demonstrations by companies including dk3 and Sika-Design.
One of the entries in the programme for 3daysofdesign describe the place as a “creative society” and packed out with visitors on the first evening I guess that is a much better description of the place than as a hub.
Barbry Stool by Aurelien Barbry
The Danish furniture company Fredericia have moved from Frederiksborggade in Copenhagen to an extensive and impressive new space in Løvstræde where they are on the upper floors of the recently restored old post office building. There are large, well-lit spaces for displaying the furniture and, from the upper level, amazing views over the roof scape of the old city.
Kvadrat are an interesting design company in terms of branding. Even if you ask people in Denmark who are outside the world of design - and they do exist - most know the name and the fabrics. In England I’m not sure that anyone, outside the business of making or selling furniture, would be able to name the company and not always then or, if given the name, would be able to say what they make which is interesting because nearly every backside in the UK will have sat on a Kvadrat fabric.
At 3daysofdesign, the company made an appearance in many different events throughout the city so the new range designed by Raf Simons was shown at the furniture store Paustian in Nordhavn and featured at Fredericia in the city centre.
At Pakhus 48, Kvadrat’s own showrooms in Nordhavn, there were amazing and fascinating masks designed by GamFratesi using fabric designed by Giulio Ridolfo.