A design lover’s guide to Copenhagen
In the world of architecture and interiors, The Danes have always had an upper hand. Just as Paris is revered as the fashion capital of the world, Copenhagen is an architectural amusement park for hip and futuristic furniture and fixtures. From the colourful chairs, quirky ceramics and 1950s retro furniture, work your way through the Strøget—the city’s main shopping street with its high-end decor stores like Illums Bolighus and Royal Copenhagen, to the bylanes of Elmegade and Jægersborggade with their truly one-of-a-kind independent design stores. The Danes fuse practicality and style in everything from a water bottle to a child’s fork. In fact, countless Danish products have become archetypes or icons of 20th-century design. Architects and designers like Arne Jacobsen, Jørn Utsen (Sydney Opera House) and Erik Magnussen have forged the path for future designers.
Perhaps the best time to go shopping isn’t in the summer as most would expect, but during Christmas when the city comes alive against a backdrop of grey as the Danes aggressively fight the bleakness of winter with their favourite weapon—Hygge, or the art of coziness and happiness. Danish design stores have a special take on lighting as they glow with tea lights, candles and more, all in an attempt to mimic a convivial, happy atmosphere to combat the cold. Whilst an array of bright patterns in the shape of blankets, throws and oversized scarves grace store displays, here’s a list of five stores that embody the free spirit and functionality that has made Copenhagen a must-visit destination for design lovers.
Copenhagen Design Guide | Keramiker Inge Vincents
Award-winning ceramist, Inge Vincents is perennially working on a new project as you step into her modest store in the funky Nørrebro neighbourhood. Her stunning range of hand-made, thin-ware is a revolutionary style of glassware that belies the idea that porcelain is weighty and tedious to handle. Inge’s lightweight, translucent vases, bowls, cups are paper-thin and hand-crafted so no piece is the same. Hand-thrown vases mimic the appearance of slouchy bags; while square tea-lights glow in this all-white paradise where your wallet will run away from you if you are not careful. Luckily she ships worldwide!
Address: Jægersborggade 43 2200 København N
Copenhagen Design Guide | Hay House
The perennial darling of the Danes is Hay House. It operates on the quintessential formula of form and functionality without compromising on style (which is essentially the cornerstone of Danish design). Hay offers affordable furniture for the home and office extending the philosophy of good design to a larger audience. Their one-off design pieces from clocks to bathroom accessories are worth packing in your suitcase. Whilst their hooks, racks, and rugs are coveted worldwide for their functional and stylish aesthetic, the Uchiwa lounge chair by Doshi Levien to Peter Johansen’s Kutter candle holder are must-sees.
Address: Østergade 61, 2., 1100 København K
Copenhagen Design Guide | Illums Bollighus
Towering on the pulsating Amager Torv in the centre of Copenhagen, this 10,000 square-metre store curates the best Danish and international brands and is the city’s flagship design store. Pick up gifts from their in-house designers or opt for a mug or dinner plates from Royal Copenhagen in the trademark hand-painted white and blue pattern. From the stylish Eva solo drip-free carafes to the array of accessories, this store deserves a couple of hours at least and even if you cannot revisit, do keep checking their window displays especially during Christmas; among the most Instagrammable sights in the city!
Address: Amagertorv 10, 1160 København K
Copenhagen Design Guide | Normann
When Normann Copenhagen was established in 1999 by Jan Andersen and Poul Madsen, little did the founders ever imagine that their ode to independent design would one day earn them the title of ‘One of the Twelve Treasures of Europe’ by none other than The New York Times. The store thrives on boldness and colours, and exudes an inherent positive energy. All the furniture is simple and elegant with a strong focus on functionality. “Whether you have a single light bulb sticking out of the wall or a well-designed lamp that creates a comfortable light in the room, it will undoubtedly affect how you feel. It’s the quality of the things we surround ourselves with that can have a strong effect on our mood. It affects everything,” says the CEO, Poul Madsen.
Address: Østerbrogade 70, 2100 København K
Copenhagen Design Guide | Gubi
Housed in a delightful old building, with its snaking central staircase—originally the first department store in Copenhagen, Gubi offers irreverent one-off design pieces. The store has no branches. Their furniture, however, graces the corridors of prestigious institutions like The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). The famous Gubi Beetle chairs and pendant lights are fixtures in the homes of smart Danes.
Address: Møntergade 19, 1140 København K
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