Bold Moves, Archive Revivals and Edgy Undertones

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In a gridlocked year, from where does the new emerge? Amidst an industry eager for a sense of forward momentum, the 7th edition of Denmark’s annual design event pointed to an eclectic array of suggestions. DAMNº was there to take note(s).

The mood was jubilant, lavish – carefree, almost. For a fleeting moment, you almost forgot that the pandemic was a thing. Having weathered the brunt of Covid-19 relatively unscathed, Denmark’s cautious sense of optimism was tangible across the open showrooms, talks, and cocktail hours of this year’s edition of 3 Days of Design, held in Copenhagen from 3rd–5th September 2020. Like countless other events on the global calendar this year, the event had to be postponed – first from May to July, then from July to September. Unlike most others, however, it was able to take place in more or less its original format, largely thanks to the clout and organizational prowess of its director, Signe Terenziani.

The Alfredo Häberli-designed hairline graphic that formed this year’s visual identity could be seen splashed over more than one Copenhagen billboard. Baskets strung like lanterns fluttered in the blue-skied breeze. It felt like the whole town was turning it on in a show of quiet pride. No holds were barred when it came to the guest experience as the press tour glossed through the city from showroom to showroom on various forms of Copenhagen transport – from bikes and rickshaws to speedboats slicing through the dark onyx harbor.

Though the country has been spared the worst of the pandemic, Danish interior, furniture, and lighting brands haven’t totally avoided the global supply chain disruptions that have affected the rest of the world. With plans for new products, projects, and collections halted in their tracks, heritage brands have been reaching back into their archives to reconsider or re-issue forgotten icons. At FDB Møbler, a furniture brand founded in 1942 with Børge Mogensen heading up the studio, family legacies found fresh outlets: Mogensen’s oval-backed 1949 Skal chair received an environmentally-conscious update through a redesign by his granddaughter, designer Sarah Moutouh, who incorporated recycled plastic into the structure. In a project of a very different nature, Visionary Danish architect Grethe Meyer’s heat-resistant Ildpot clay tableware from 1976 was brought back from obscurity thanks to small German porcelain factory who reconstituted the original product’s exact chemical formula and tawny tone
FDB Møbler Ildpot Stoneware

FDB Møbler-Skal Chair-Børge Mogensen-Redesigned by Sarah Moutouh

Audio pioneer Bang & Olufsen launched a Classics pilot initiative to refurbish and restore some of its iconic models, beginning with the Jacob Jensen-designed Beogram 4000 series turntable from 1972, which has made it into MOMA’s permanent collection. Iconic lighting design company Louis Poulsen reached far back into its history to revive the seven-shade PH Septima lamp, designed by Poul Henningsen between 1927-31. Combining clear and frosted panels of glass, the unmistakable design was created for optimal glare-free light diffusion in a variety of interior settings, and provides just as intriguing an accent today as it would have when first launched.

Bang & Olufsen Classics Pilot Initiative Beogram
Bang & Olufsen Classics Pilot Initiative Beogram
Bang & Olufsen Classics Pilot Initiative Beogram

Geismars, the home linen label established as a Copenhagen textile weaving mill way back in 1866, stayed loyal to its values of unhurried quality with the addition of a seersucker fabric to its bedding range. House of Finn Juhl (part of Onecollection) opened the doors to its sparkling new showroom in the historic Wilhelm Hansen House, a five-generation music publishing house and sheet music shop that was closely aligned with the country’s greatest composers. This story, too, is one of fortuitous partnership: Hanne Wilhelm Hansen, 4th generation successor to the family business, was Finn Juhl’s great love. It was only in 1998, nine years after her husband’s death and following several forgotten decades of his design legacy, that she approached Onecollection to revive its production. Finally, the couple’s stories can be told in a suitably esteemed setting.

House of Finn Juhl-53 Chair
House of Finn Juhl-53 Chair

This year’s key theme of sustainability was fittingly reflected in several brand’s showcases. Alessandro Sarfatti, who founded Italian lighting label Astep in 2014 – the third iteration of pioneering lighting designers (his grandfather, Gino Sarfatti­, founded Arteluce in 1939, and his father, Riccardo Luceplan in 1978) – put circularity at the forefront of the design for his wireless table lamp Pepa, created in collaboration with Milan-based designer Francesco Faccin, and made from solid ash wood with only four screws, allowing it be fully recyclable at the end of its lifespan. Kitchenware brand Stelton – best known for its minimalist EM77 thermos ­– further committed to a circular economy with its spin-off cookware line, RIG-TIG (meaning “just right” in Danish), which offers a pleasing range of pastel utensils and kitchen appliances produced to have a low environmental impact.

Astep x Francesco Faccin-Pepa Lamp-Credit Sistemamanifesto Astep x Francesco Faccin-Pepa Lamp-Credit Sistemamanifesto Astep x Francesco Faccin-Pepa Lamp-Credit Sistemamanifesto

Novelty at the highest quality emerged from a host of international collaborations. Luxury textile behemoth Kvadrat’s sub-brand FEBRIK (the latter came under the umbrella of the former in 2018) brought its plush knitted textiles into focus by inviting 28 designers and artists to interpret its material collection for the exhibition Knit!, with works playfully dotted throughout Kvadrat’s seafront Nordhavn showroom. Results ranged from tableware made from textile molds by Paola Sakr to a blue velvet colonnade by Bahraini–danish and a chic reclining seat by Studio Truly Truly. In the rough-and-ready yard at Sturlasgade 14, a mish-mash of furniture workshops, rock music studios, and Michelin-starred restaurant Alouette, the down-to-earth carpenters, welders and craftspeople of KBH Københavns Møbelsnedkeri worked on lavish custom orders, from intricate old-world fixtures to scalloped sideboards, cabinets and tables – the precise elegance of which can be experienced first-hand during a splash-out meal at next-door Alouette.

Kvadrat-Febrik-Knit! Exhibition-Art by Studio Truly Truly Coalesce-Photo by Luke Evans Kvadrat-Febrik-Knit! Exhibition-Art by Studio Truly Truly Coalesce-Photo by Luke Evans Kvadrat-Febrik-Knit! Exhibition-Art by Studio Truly Truly Coalesce-Photo by Luke Evans

KBH Københavns Møbelsnedkeri-Knottedoak Kitchen-Photo By Line Klein KBH Københavns Møbelsnedkeri-Lounge Chair-Photo by Gyrithe Lemche

From Japanese-Danish design duo INODA+SVEJE and Karimoku, Japan’s largest wood furniture manufacturer (whose spin-off lines include Karimoku Case Study Karimoku New Standard) came the latest collection by Karimoku Kunst: a line of sophisticated furniture marrying Japanese expertise in wood craft and state-of-the-art technology with the INODA+SVEJE’s refined aesthetic sensibility. Upholstery brand and furniture maker GETAMA teamed up with Pierre Frey Paris and Chilean-born, Copenhagen-based artist Marco Evaristti, whose work deals with sex and death. The collaboration lent a dark edge to the new GETAMA showroom fit-out: a bonanza of wildcard neo-Baroque colors and patterns. Erik Jørgensen and Snøhetta revealed the latest creation in their Casework collection, a modular sofa consisting of a graphic wooden frame topped with generous cushions, made in Oslo and in Svendborg on the Danish island of Funen.

Karimoku Kunst-Sofa
Getama-Showroom-in collaboration with Pierre Frey Paris-Art by Marco Evaristti
Erik Jørgensen Snohetta Casework Sofa

Modularity also took new forms and tones at Montana, which launched its Mega furniture modules in 40 vibrant tones designed together with color expert Margrethe Odgaard, alongside the Telkan Edition of its Montana Free shelving system in ‘Iris’ and ‘Masala’. At PLEASE WAIT to be SEATED, colors were equally crackling, with a ‘Tumeric’ colorway lending the Podgy lamp a warm touch, and the relaunched Tokio Desk Lamp by Shigeaki Asahara from 1980 taking on a calming eggshell blue. Artisanal-inflected interior specialists File Under Pop showcased graphic, hand-painted wallpapers, super-matte paint, and panels of tiles handmade from Spanish clay and Italian lava stone; a deliciously tactile feast for the eyes. In contrast, over at MENU’s multifunctional creative showroom, The Audo, the atmosphere harked back to the warm walnut woods and sober greys of American Midcentury modern; a reminder that for all the innovation, sometimes circling back to the familiar is the safest bet.

Montana Free Teklan Mood Shot Iris Masala Montana Free Teklan Mood Shot Iris Masala Montana Free Teklan Mood Shot Masala

Montana Mega Mood Shot Shadow Turmeric Monarch Flint
Montana Mega Mood Shot Vanilla Azure Rhubarb Amber
Please Wait to be Seated-Tokio Desk Lamp by Shigeaki Asahara-Relaunched
File Under Pop-Tiles


That bet that’s paying off for many Danish heritage brands. In a surprise move, Ole Jørgensen son of Erik Jørgensen alluded to the company’s 30% profit margin this year in his showroom talk. By this measure, it appears as though Danes have taken up “buying local” online from their stylishly fitted-out living rooms during lockdown. Can this statistic be taken as an indicator of the industry’s general prosperity? Could it be that the pandemic has done more good than harm to some Danish design brands? The state of affairs next year might reveal a few answers. You’ll hear them from us then.

Hotel Herman K by Paustian Facade

With thanks to soon-to-open boutique hotel Hotel Herman K by Paustian for the preview of its stylish interior – industrial raw concrete offset by soft touches and textiles by Danish furniture and design house Paustian and Warm Nordic – and its generous hospitality during DAMNº’s stay in Copenhagen.


by Anna Dorothea Ker


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