3 Days of Design
Founder of the If Not Now Then When events, Rachael Hymas, visited Copenhagen in May for the Danish capital’s annual design festival 3 Days of Design. Rachael sent us her thoughts on the furniture, lighting and design she saw in this post show review…
This year I set myself a mission to experience a range of design festivals in order to expand my knowledge and network. This does come at a price though as it means missing out on favourites such as Clerkenwell Design Week, which is always such an amazing way to catch up with industry friends. The one thing I’ve learnt during my time in this industry is how tight-knit it is. Colleagues are friends, business contacts are people to bounce ideas off and everyone is passionate about good design and having a good time in the process. With significant FOMO I boarded the plane to discover what Copenhagen’s ‘3 Days of Design’ had to offer instead. In all honesty though, I shouldn’t have doubted my choice as Denmark truly is a hub of ‘hot’ brands and design talent right now.
I began the trip with a walking tour, learning about the city’s history and the areas where I’d be exploring the design week. The first memorable stop was at Denmark’s National Bank. Designed by Arne Jacobsen, the structure is bold and confident within its setting. The youngest building to be listed in Denmark, it provides a fortress-like home for Denmark’s economy. The building is highly considered yet has no notable decoration. This refined approach is a great representation of the simplistic Danish design style. Inside, the vaulted reception space is dramatic yet calming. Light creeps in and illuminates the Arne Jacobsen designed Fritz Hansen Swan chairs and the steel stairway which creates a theatrical sense of scale. Coming from an Architectural background with a passion for furniture design, I’ve always been driven by the concept that all elements need to be considered together for a scheme to work. Mies Van Der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion is a masterpiece of design because the architecture, interiors and furniture were all designed together.
The &Tradition showroom is near to the Rosenborg Castle in a stunningly refurbished 1913 townhouse. This one has been on my list for a long while and it did not disappoint. Each room was as Instagram-able as the next! In my mind &Tradition has always been a great option for projects as it’s cost effective, high quality and well designed. The vast amount of showroom space allowed new and classic pieces to be placed in different settings in order to present the brand’s diversity. Here are some of my highlights…
Designed in 1964, the iconic Flowerpot pendant by Verner Panton was inspired by the ‘Flower Power’ movement.
‘Blown’ is a range by British designer Samuel Wilkinson who is well established and possibly best known for his beautifully designed contemporary range for BEEM. Inspired by lighthouses, raspberries and ranging textures, the glass shape is classic and elegant. I like the contrast that the small marble base brings as it gives a masculine edge. The small table lamp is discrete yet able to create a little bit of theatre through the quilted texture of the mouth-blown glass. The dimmable lamp also comes in a pendant version, but this was definitely my favourite!
A new piece that’s yet to be added to the 2019 collection is this modern chandelier. Reminiscent of the Nendo and Wonderglass collaboration earlier on this year, it showcases how highly opulent pieces can be coupled with well-designed yet more ‘homely’ items in order to create a casual setting.
I was kindly invited to the opening preview of ‘The Audo’, a building that encompasses all types of spaces. A collaboration between Norm Architects, Menu and Kinfolk the building provides working environments, chilled café spaces and cosy hotel rooms that make you want to hang-around a little longer! This was a true highlight of my time in Copenhagen.
To begin, we were treated to an introduction by Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen, Partner at Norm Architects; Joachim Kornbaek Engell-Hansen, Creative Director at Menu furniture and Nathan Williams, Founder of Kinfolk magazine. It was an inspiring insight into how these brands collaborated to produce this beautiful building. In a world driven by social media and connections with others I could see that their teamwork is a true representation of the collaborative space they’d created.
Bierre-Poulsen talked us through the project name and its meaning ‘Ab Uno Discee Omnes’, which translates as ‘from one, learn all’. Giving an insight into the idea behind the space offering all types of zones with no clear boundaries between. A clear message about the future of fluidity within design and lifestyles in general, no labels meaning people can come and casually use the space and furniture how they please.
The new Menu headquarters sits in an area of regeneration. The careful refurbishment allowed the Neo-Baroque building’s trading history to shine through whilst offering a modern feel. In my opinion Menu is a great design-led brand and the delivery on this project has lifted them to a new level. Exciting collaborations with high-end patterned fabrics by Dedar show the versatility of the brand. Furniture that can be used in a ‘cool’ millennial space, but also in a glamourous cocktail bar. Not many brands are capable of this, however the fluid spaces within this project showcases the brand’s diversity. I also really liked the introduction of more classic design pieces which will soon be part of the main collection!
It was a pleasure to meet the Kinfolk founder Nathan Williams, his curation of the project gave it a ‘cool’ and ‘casual’ personality. The colour palette of neutral tones, greens and burnt shades gave the building a ‘homely’ feel whilst the textures and patterns gave the space a touch of high-end opulence. The hotel rooms had a feel of uniformity, whilst allowing each to have its own identity and feel, some were moody and masculine, yet others were light filled and feminine with wild floral vases dotted around. The use of hard-edged natural materials such as stone and more rural rustic finishes such as timber created structure with an informal feel. Art will be on monthly rotation ensuring the space stays fresh and allowing the architecture and furniture to constantly look renewed.
Dodds and Shute
Some of the best parts of design trips are the unplanned ones. I met with a friend from Dodds and Shute, and we casually dined in the sun and chatted work-life. To me, it’s always very important to have a good relationship with the people you work alongside. We discussed Dodds and Shute’s carbon positive initiative and our responsibility to create both good design but with an honest conscience. I have always been very keen on how design-led they are as a company; however, I must say I am even more so now!
Yet another stunning showroom space that works with the historic architecture to enhance the furniture. Although the building has not been designed for the furniture, it very much sits in the space as though it was. Fredericia’s showroom is over two levels and offers a stunning roof terrace with views over the city. A place we enjoyed during their cocktail party a little later in the evening! Although I’m keen on all their pieces, I loved the newly released Swoon Petit that offers a smaller footprint to the original design.
Muuto’s showroom space is bright and relaxing which is a great reflection of the brand overall. An abundance of rustic burnt orange shades and stone materials gives the space depth and the roof terrace is to die for! I particularly liked the casual way in which the spaces were set-up. The staff canteen was full of people eating breakfast which is provided for them each day to encourage staff conversation. The way in which the furniture embellished this casual set-up was in my opinion a true reflection of the way in which Denmark not only designs beautiful things, but they design for a great work-life balance.
Copenhagen was more about design as a whole rather than rushed new releases. This design festival was everything I expected, chilled out, relaxed and very much led by design. The experience was as much about furniture and design as it was the city and lifestyle itself. In true spirit (and making up the bad weather in Milan this year), let’s cheers to another great design festival!