The biggest event in Denmark’s design calendar showcased the work of nearly 300 brands across 13 districts; here's what stood out
Celebrating its 10th year, in just a decade 3 Days of Design has become one of the most significant events in the design calendar, and a chance for Nordic designers to show their mettle. This year nearly 300 brands took part, spreading out across 13 districts, with thoughtful explorations into the future of design and materials just as prevalent as the beautifully crafted and heartfelt new products that you would expect from this part of the world. It’s a lot to take in – which is why Design Anthology UK has distilled it down to the most interesting new launches and sights.
Central Saint Martins graduate Helle Mardahl creates “a dreamy universe of richly coloured glass designs of eccentric deviance” perfectly summed up by her show at Bredgade 38, a neoclassical apartment building in Frederiksstaden. The historic apartment was filled with her mouth blown, candy-coloured creations to surreal effect, in colours that have been named to make your mouth water, from spearmint and blue jelly, grapefruit and caramel. Mardahl releases new products twice a year, and the latest drop includes globe-shaped pendant lamps, cake stands and cocktail glasses (the latter complete with a cartoonish glass ‘cherry’ on the side).
Taking a materials-first approach, Mater’s What a Waste exhibition focused on the brand’s ethos of sustainable, circular design. In the elegant surroundings of the Helligåndshuset, an exhibition space adjacent to Copenhagen’s House of the Holy Ghost, Mater unveiled its new Lily tables and Compound chairs, designed by OEO Studio. Both incorporate the brand’s proprietary Matek material, which incorporates a binder made from plastic waste, which can be combined with other leftover materials – from coffee waste to sawdust – to create press-moulded solid surfaces. The exhibition also featured collaborations with packaging giants Tetra Pak and Arla, highlighting new waste initiatives.
Norwegian artist Anna Maria Øfstedal Eng (whose work also appears in AHEC’s show, see below) has already worked with Ferm on some sculptural pieces – giving her pleasingly crooked take on the universe a broader platform – and a new table design called Dal Piece has followed. It is made from recycled aluminium and features her signature curvy shapes, inspired by the monumental natural wonders of her home country.
Tableau X Vaarnii
Starting life as a flower shop, Tableau is now a multidisciplinary studio and gallery that works across set design, product design and art installation. For 3 Days of Design, it welcomed young Finnish brand Vaarnii into its space, whose mission is to find a place in the contemporary cannon for pine furniture. Tableau styled Vaarnii’s self-styled “brutally Finnish” furniture and lighting alongside pieces such as Dilara Kan Hon’s Ova cabinet, covered in hundreds of bauble-like round silk parcels, and Anton Hendrik Denys’ grid-like foam wall light – natural timber and bright colour juxtaposed to maximum effect.
A newly refurbished showroom at its harbourfront Nordhavn location meant the opportunity to usher in some summer vibes at Gubi, including a coastal-living-inspired furniture and apparel collaboration with New York’s Noah (whose founders Brendon Babenzien and Estelle Bailey-Babenzien are pictured). New primary-bright colours on the MR01 lounge chair have been created to complement the clothing, beach towels and tote bags. Gubi’s growing outdoor collection, grouped under the loose title Under the Sun, now includes Carmel a ceramic-topped table by OEO Studio and a portable version of Space Copenhagen’s popular Seine lamp.
Presented at the Copenhagen Design Agency, Three was the initiative of the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), which paired three Nordic designers with a different hardwood and encouraged them to experiment to see where their creative journeys took them. Anne Brandhøj’s series of sculptures are made from layers of cherry wood, with an inviting inner universe of undulating shapes that show off every knot; Norway’s Anna Maria Øfstedal Eng created her signature amorphous furniture in palest maple; and Sweden’s Pia Högman’s five angular red oak chairs take advantage of the species’ excellent take-up of surface treatments – each is finished in a different manner, to enhance the grain.
Instantly recognisable for its pleated paper and plastic lighting, Le Klint celebrates its 80th anniversary in 2023 (its founder, architect Peder Vilhelm Jensen-Klint, also designed Copenhagen’s beloved Grundtvig Church – whose sky-high vertical brickwork itself resembles folded paper). At its Kirkestræde store, it presented new products to celebrate its birthday, including the 328 table and floor light, design by Copenhagen-based Aurelien Barbry, the flower-like Bouquet table lamp and new ombré colours for the cascading Plivello pendant.
Kristina Dam Studio
High-end vintage showroom The Vintage Bar played host to Kristina Dam Studio’s inviting show, with visitors walking through a progressive set of rooms that highlighted the designing and making process, from initial prototypes to the finished products. The studio’s sculpture offering was a particular highlight, but there was new furniture, too, including a bar stool added to the best-selling Outline collection, which has the same warmly minimalist aesthetic as the chair and desk in the range.
Increasingly, international brands with a sympathetic outlook and aesthetic to contemporary Scandinavian design are showing their work at 3 Days of Design, from big-hitters like Foscarini (which unveiled its first collaboration with a Danish designer at the show) to younger brands such as Koyori from Japan, founded in 2022. In Copenhagen, Koyori launched the Miau dining table and Edeha chair, by Danish-Italian duo GamFratesi. Made from solid oak or walnut, the visually lightweight table’s top and legs are seamlessly attached in a feat of high precision joinery skill.
Carl Hansen & Søn
Carl Hansen & Søn rebranded its Bredgade flagship as the House of Craft during 3 Days of Design, in a celebration of the artisan skills behind the products, with the brand’s furniture designs interspersed with sculptural wood sculptures by the Copenhagen-based British sculptor Nicholas Shurey. Among the new launches on show as the extensive AH outdoor collection, the work of the late Alfred Homann, who died in 2022. Homann has distilled this furniture down to the essentials, creating an 11-piece collection that is the ultimate in refined, minimal craftsmanship, made from untreated, FSC-certified teak that will silver and patinate over time.
Rigidly symmetrical, coolly architectural….just a couple of the hallmarks of Louis Poulsen’s lighting designs. It was exciting to see all that pushed aside at 3 Days of Design, when the brand hooked up with cult glass designers Heven to subvert the norm. Handblown in Brooklyn, the pieces on show included candy-coloured versions of classics such as the PH5 pendant, a devil-horned PH21 table lamp and a tentacle-clad VL45. Surreal, witty and joyously subversive.