Design and the Danes

Design is everywhere, pervasive, all around, in dwellings, public spaces, and in factories. Defining design begins with deciding whether you use design as a noun or a verb. As a product, great design should be so seamless we become one with it and don’t notice it at all. When considering the verb, design translates dreams, values and ethics into tangible objects or experiences; it is a utilitarian and sign function.

Stackable dishware for maximizing space.

Design can be an process, a mode, expression, a necessity. It influences everyone – from children to politicians. It is so fundamental to the human experience that it is in some ways instinctual and has evolved with us since the beginning of time when man first explored his environment and decided to begin molding it.

Various lamps designed to disperse light and use tones to create natural lighting.


Louis Poulsen – Enigma 545

If humans design their own spaces, does this make us all designers? Is the decision to improve your life and make it more beautiful a design?

The PH Spiral Lamp
Indoor lighting – the most important Scandinavian architectural element.

I believe design is what separates humans from animals. We make conscious decisions to shape our environments, where animals are dictated by natural selection and instinct. We are, therefore, designers if we process our environments and change them. However, the term may glorify some actions. Cleaning your room, for example, should not be dubbed with the term “design”. But arranging your room so that it is energetically and spiritually optimal is a form of design.


The “Cloud Room” – a space at Nikolai for Børn where children can let their imaginations dream

At every instant of our lives we interact with so many objects. Many, like our toothbrushes and alarm clocks, are so routine and common that we don’t even notice them. Yet, without them we cannot function.

Are color options the new democratic design?

People often mistake Danish Design for functional design. It was the Bauhaus who believed that if you designed with a functional approach, the most natural aesthetic form would follow. Scandinavian pioneers like Alvar Aalto and Poul Henningsen borrowed from this model but modified their approach to a softer, more organic one. This decision most likely stemmed from the necessity to create interiors to survive the Scandinavian winters.

Peter’s Chair

Danish design fosters creativity and thought. This is apparent in wooden children’s toys and where the objective is for the child to learn the most basic anatomy of an animal, but also imagine new species by reassembling the pieces differently. Iconic Danish lamps diffuse and enhance light to make seeing a more pleasant experience.

A child’s toy camel made to be taken apart

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