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Danish design: simple and elegant

Danes are rightfully proud of their most famous export product: Danish design. Clean lines and simple forms create shapes that are loved for their simplicity and the way they exude class. Denmark’s global reputation in the field of design rests largely on the principle of ‘form follows function’.

It all started in the 1950s. Danish designers combined simplicity and functionality with various new technologies that allowed for large-scale production. From furniture and eating utensils to bicycles and electronics, timeless Danish creations became wildly popular. Icons such as The Egg and The Swan chair designs by Arne Jacobsen and the Artichoke Lamp by Poul Henningsen still remain in production decades later. A walk through the stylish capital of Copenhagen, the cradle of Danish design, quickly uncovers magnificent designs in surprising locations.

The famous chair The Egg™ by Arne Jacobsen
The famous chair The Egg™ by Arne Jacobsen


Danish innovation on foot

Tivoli is a great place to start your discovery of Copenhagen. Fun for both young and old, this jolly theme park has wooden rollercoasters and colourful carousels for the kids and Poul Henningsen’s design legacy for grown-up connoisseurs. This trailblazing architect and designer had 2,000 lanterns installed around the lake in Tivoli, all of which pivot on their axis by means of small engines.

Behind Tivoli is the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, considered the first designer hotel in the world. The hand of Arne Jacobsen, one of the founders of Danish design, has marked this building inside and out – this is the hotel for which he designed his world-famous chairs The Egg and The Swan. Room 606 has been left in its original state as homage to Jacobsen. And those who just want to immerse themselves in the Jacobsen atmosphere for an evening can enjoy a drink in the elegant hotel bar.

Bredgade is Copenhagen’s designer street of choice. It abounds in cosy antique shops specialised in the creations of Danish designers such as Georg Jensen and Hans Wegner. Bredgade is also the location of the famous Bruun Rasmussen auction house, as well as the Design Museum. This museum showcases industrial pieces from around the world including Danish works by Kaare Klint, Poul Henningsen and Arne Jacobsen. Check out the lamps in the museum café: they are replicas of Klint’s classical Fruit Lamp.

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Legoland near Billund

Playful bricks

LEGO’s colourful bricks are another Danish invention. Found everywhere these days, they were originally developed in the small town of Billund, where a carpenter made simple wooden blocks as children’s toys to supplement his income. He called them LEGO, a contraction of the Danish expression leg godt (‘play well’). The concept quickly became immensely popular. The Legoland theme park, featuring rollercoasters and marvellous LEGO buildings, is located close to Billund.
The modern opera house

Cutting-edge opera house

In the neighbourhood of Holmen, across the water from the Amalienborg Palace complex, is the Copenhagen Opera House. For the Danish architect Henning Larsen this piece of art was a hard nut to crack, but today is considered to be one of the most modern opera buildings in the world. The brief was for a design that would be both innovative and durable, and cheap in terms of maintenance. Its clean contours, composed of glass, limestone and metal, make the Opera House a timeless, distinctive Danish design. And it has an unparalleled location on the water.