The best new Nordic discoveries from Copenhagen's annual creative showcase
Danish design is thriving, in case you hadn’t noticed – and this 72-hour whirlwind of an event in Copenhagen is one of the best ways to experience an industry full of confidence, and saying all the right things when it comes to the big issues such as sustainability and social responsibility. A lot of the action takes place within showrooms, with new launches, exhibitions, talks and other activities, doing what Nordic design does best: quiet luxury, great craftsmanship and the simple desire to make life better. This selection gives a flavour of the city-wide event and highlights the best new pieces.
Carl Hansen & Søn
At 3 Days of Design Carl Hansen & Søn is focusing on a name that may be less familiar to those not intimately schooled in Danish architecture, Vilhelm Lauritzen (1894-1984). One of the fathers of Danish modernism, his works include Copenhagen Airport’s first terminal (since named after him), the Radiohuset concert hall and Folkets Hus, a meeting place for the labour movement. This year marks the centenary of the founding of Lauritzen’s architectural practice, and Carl Hansen & Søn is reviving some of the furniture designs that were originally created for these venues. The VLA26 Vega Chair, for example (named after the Folkets Hus’ modern name, after it was reimagined as an entertainment venue in the 1990s) has not been on the market until now: available in steel and wood, with optional upholstery in fabric or leather, it retains the distinctive 1950s character of the original.
&tradition asked Italian design studio Studioutte to reinvent its four-floor showroom Kronprinsessegade especially for 3 Days of Design, creating a more experiential environment to explore its latest releases, including a 1970s-inspired conversation pit to host talks and an installation of Verner Panton’s Flowerpot lights, one of the brand’s best-known re-releases of a classic 20th-century design. A separate exhibition at bar and restaurant Apollo Kantine, Studies of a Table, brought together five designers and studios to rethink the traditional notion of a table: Copenhagen-based All The Way To Paris’ concept is an aluminium ‘tablecloth’ that creates a fluid structure, while India’s Studio Raw Material made a table from yellow marble peppered with fossilised shells and sea creatures.
Although best know for its luxuriously understated textiles, Kvadrat moved into the world of roller blinds a few years ago, and at 3 Days of Design it launched a new system in this category designed by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec. Minimal, as the system’s name suggests, is not just visually unobtrusive – letting the blind fabric itself do all the creative expression – but an adjective to describe the product’s use of fewer resources and its full recyclability. The showroom was also one of the first places to see the new Quotes collection, partly created in collaboration with artist Alain Biltereyst, which translates the orderly geometry of his work onto includes fabrics and flatweave rugs.
Finn Juhl did much to introduce Danish modernism to the rest of the world via projects such as his work for the UN’s headquarters in New York, and there is still more to (re)discover. This year the brand puts in to production for the first time a chair that was originally part of a 1948 concept for an art-collector’s living room at the Danish Cabinetmakers’ Guild Exhibition: the Whisky chair is crafted with enjoyment in mind, and features a fold-out brass tray and a well to hold a glass. Need more incentive to buy? A mouth-blown whisky glass, created by Danish glassmaker Mikkel Yerst, is included with each chair, and the first 250 chairs sold come with a bottle of a limited-edition single-malt whisky by Danish distillery Stauning Whisky.
It’s hard to believe that Hay is 20 years old, since everything that the Danish brand releases seems to be done with a spring in the step and a twinkle in the eye. It is celebrating with a retrospective coffee-table book published by Phaidon, plus a raft of new collaborations and products released over the summer and autumn. Belgian duo Muller Van Severen has designed the Colour cabinet, with its simple boxy shape and ribbed-glass front but a playful attitude to colour, where different hues are used for different faces. Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have designed both a Shaker-style dining table and a modular wall-mounted storage system, while first-time Hay collaborator Julien Renault introduces the Pastis collection, a chair, armchair, table and coffee table that are a modern take on traditional French brasserie furniture.
Menu’s new collections launched at 3 Days of Design were particularly strong when it came to lighting. British designer Daniel Schofield has created the Ray table lamp, a portable, rechargeable light whose silhouette is a refined version of a traditional mining lamp, complete with handy carry handle to take the product from dining table to bedside shelf. Hashira is another portable lamp, designed by Norm Architects and with a Japanese vibe thanks to its thick linen shade and ash frame. Finally, a Menu favourite, the JWDA table lamp, now comes with an opulent Calacatta Viola marble base to complement its rounded glass shade – a design heavyweight in every way.
Designed by Joe Colombo and first produced in the late 1960s by rattan furniture manufacturer Pierantonio Bonacina, the Basket collection is Gubi’s latest revival. For those more used to Colombo’s famed use of plastic and fibreglass, the collection, in rustic hand-woven rattan, might come as a surprise. However, the retro-futuristic shapes and generous upholstery are both hallmarks of his work, and the technique used to make the wavy rattan remains difficult to achieve (Gubi has replaced the original fibreglass shell with steel, though). It’s available in a lounge chair and a two- and three-seater sofa, with upholstery fabrics suitable for indoors or out.