Bunte Designerstühle der dänischen Marke GUBI

Designed for Life : Denmark’s Design Heritage

12.6.2024
Photo: Miklos Szabo - Copenhagen Media Center

In Denmark, design is for life, and for everyone. Whether that’s in what you wear on the street, how the buildings around you function or what the chair you sit in feels like, a few key themes run through the Danish approach to design. 

In brief, the basics are simple, functional and elegant, all underpinned by a respect for craftsmanship, a desire for equality, love of nature and ultimately, a goal to support quality of life.

Take a closer look and you’ll see how these key ideas thread through Danish design in all its many forms. The focus is set on simplicity, sustainability, and the beauty of daily life and on solutions and processes, that work well, last long, look good, and help make the world a better place too.

Take a Seat

In the 1950s, a number of progressive and organic modernist furniture designers – Hans J. Wegner, Børge Mogensen, Poul Kjærholm, and Poul Henningsen – really made ‘Danish Design’ a household term worldwide. Most famous of them all is Danish designer and architect Arne Jacobsen, the creator of the iconic Swan and Egg chairs, that are still manufactured by and remain a bestseller of Republic of Fritz Hansen. It has become a classic of Mid-Century Modern design, and beloved around the world. 

Interior design in Denmark is characterised by mood lighting, candles, textured soft furnishings, and an abundance of natural colours. As with all the Danish design traditions, craftsmanship, quality and functionality are key: pieces are designed for humans and intended to last the test of time, both in style and durability. Modern twists on the style come via sustainable yet traditional Danish designs of Takt’s furniture, Kvadrat’s colourful and contemporary textiles, and Helle Mardahl, whose shapely candy-coloured glassware was awarded Elle Décor International’s tableware of the year 2024.

Chairs at Milan Design Week

Photo:VisitDenmark

A Pavilion Made of Chairs

We’re not done with designing chairs: just take our Denmark Pavilion as an example. A fully recyclable event pavilion, it is created from 600 chairs made from recycled Carlsberg kegs, old fishing nets, and discarded wood. Initially intended for The Denmark Pavilion during the Tokyo Olympics 2020, the chairs ended on quite a different journey thanks to COVID-19 and have since offered literal seats at the table of New York Climate Week, Milan Design Week and Roskilde Festival. And now, you can witness the chairs returning to their original purpose, as the foundation of The Denmark Pavilion in Paris 2024. After the Olympic Games, they will find a new home at the Fondation Danoise – a base for Danish students and researchers, offering a unique combination of Danish hygge and cosmopolitan diversity in the heart of Paris.

The interior and exhibition architecture has been created by Copenhagen-based architects BRIQ, along with the concept and content creation, while the structure was designed by Danish architects Lendager Group, who specialise in sustainable architecture and urban planning.

Design Creates Culture

Another of Denmark’s key design exports is architecture. Copenhagen is the current World Architecture Capital, a title given by UNESCO for its human-centred, sustainable focus. Just a couple of examples of its unique architectural style are Urban Rigger, a set of 72 floating container apartments built by Bjarke Ingels Group in Copenhagen, and Living Places. Urban Rigger was created as an alternative to traditional buildings on land in response to the shortage of affordable housing in our cities; Living Places Copenhagen is a collection of seven prototype houses that show that it is possible and affordable to create sustainable and beautiful buildings with a lower-than-average CO2 footprint.

Finally, because Danish designers like to add a sense of play wherever they can, its playground architects Monstrum are known the world over for its outrageously artistic and fun playground designs, playscapes that could be entire castles, gigantic peacocks or whales, designed to promote imaginative play in children of all ages. We’ve also got a ski slope on top of a waste management building, Copenhill, which tell a story of how modern municipal buildings can be so clean that they can co-exist with leisure spaces. Urban planning has long been a strong point of Denmark’s architects, and this idea shapes a future where cities don’t have to hide municipal buildings on the outskirts.

CopenHill or Amager Bakke, the ski slope on top of a power plant in Copenhagen neighborhood Refshaleøen

Photo:Municipality of Copenhagen

Facts about Danish Design  

  • The guiding force in Danish design is that it is for the people, not the elite. It’s typically unadorned, with no unnecessary ornamentation. 
  • In the 1920s, Kaare Klint kicked off the design movement by embracing the Bauhaus style in furniture design.
  • Danish Modern broke through in furniture design in particular in 1949. The post-war period, with its lack of materials, created a period where durability and high-quality works were in high demand.
  • Designmuseum Danmark has a famous exhibition room of 125 chairs telling the story of Danish design, with examples from Nanna Ditzel, Charles Eames and Hans J Wegner.
  • Famous Danish designers and architects include: Børge Mogensen, Finn Juhl, Hans Wegner, Arne Jacobsen, Poul Kjærholm, Poul Henningsen and Verner Panton.
  • Sydney Opera House was designed by a Danish architect, Jørn Utzon, in 1973.
  • Among the Arne Jacobsen sights to see in Copenhagen are Skovshoved petrol station, dating to 1937 and still in operation, and the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, where an original 1960s room is preserved for design-lovers to visit.
  • 21st century superstar architect Bjarke Ingels has designed award-winning buildings in Denmark and beyond, from Copenhill to The Spiral in New York City.
  • Today, 80% of the furniture produced in Denmark is made for abroad. Furniture is one of the country’s top ten exports.
  • One to watch: the annual Finn Juhl prize is awarded to those making a special contribution to the field of furniture design.

EDITOR'S NOTES

 

The Denmark Pavilion is open to the public 26 July–11 August; 11am-10pm (except August 1, from 11:00 to 16:00). Admission is free. 

WHAT'S ON 

To stay updated re. What’s On at The Denmark Pavilion, go to: denmarkpavilion.com SoMe hashtag: #denmarkpavilion2024 

FURTHER INFO / CONTACT INFORMATION 

Media attending the Olympic Games are more than welcome to visit The Denmark Pavilion and to contact the press team for further details. Please reach out to PR & Press Manager Lasse Emil Kristiansen at laekri@visitdenmark.com or +4531415390. 

WANT TO KNOW MORE? 

Creative Denmark is a great place to start. A not-for-profit, publicprivate partnership, it creates awareness about Danish creative strongholds internationally and the potential of Danish creativity in solving global challenges.

HIGH RES. IMAGES TO GO

Download images and videos from The Denmark Pavilion in Paris and from our extensive Denmark media database here:

 https://www.visitdenmark.com/denmark-pavilion/images 

ABOUT THE DENMARK PAVILION

During the Paris Olympics, visitors from around the world can enjoy a free visit to a small piece of Denmark at Champs-Élysées. Here, they can encounter Danish ideas that contribute to creating a better life and a better world. VisitDenmark, in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs, leads this initiative, which is supported by Realdania, the Consul George Jorck and Wife Emma Jorck Foundation, and The Trade Council. 

Lasse

PR & Press Manager

laekri@visitdenmark.com