The new openness

This year's 3daysofdesign in Copenhagen celebrates a new togetherness and shows how important personal exchange is.
by Alexander Russ | 9/21/2021

The timing could not be better: On September 10, 2021, Denmark changes its Corona requirements and since then no longer classify Covid-19 as a socio-critical disease, which is why all linked restrictions will no longer apply. An ideal start for this year's 3daysofdesign in Copenhagen, which can be celebrated quite traditionally in the city's showrooms, galleries and exhibitions in a three-day tour. First stop on day one is the label New Works, founded in 2015, with their showroom near Amalienborg Castle and Frederik's Church. There, natural materials such as wood and stone are the main features of the collection. Add to this the filigree paper lamp "Tense" or the new lamp "Margin" designed by John Astbury, whose multi-layered fabric cover offers a sculptural and restrained presence both when lit and unlit.

The lights "Tense" and "Margin" from New Works

In Magnus Olesen's showroom, the exact opposite is the order of the day: here, art and design meet in a wild mix. Berlin-based artist Fritz Bornstück has translated the classic "8000 Series" chair from 1981 into an expressive and colorful sculpture that is intended to evoke associations with the year it was created. Fittingly, Magnus Olesen is reissuing the "8000 Series" in the color collection originally proposed by designers Rud Thygesen & Johnny Sørensen, which ironically was deemed too daring at the time and rejected by the label.

The classic chair "8000 Series" by Magnus Olesen as a colorful sculpture

We continue to Frederiksgade 1, where several labels such as &drape, Møbel Copenhagen, Nuura, Mazo and dk3 are based. At the latter two, the theme of reedition is currently playing a role – be it the rediscovery of the designs of architect Magnus Læssøe Stephensen in the form of the "TMBO Collection" at Mazo or the reissue of Danish design classics at dk3. These include, for example, the "Pia Chair" and the "Royal System" shelving system by Poul Cadovius, whose precision craftsmanship is a credit to the originals.

The "Pia Chair" and the "Royal System" shelving system from dk3

Lunch is then appropriately served at Multiform. Founded in 1982 in Aarhus, the company offers high-quality, custom-built kitchens in collaboration with Fredericia, Louis Poulsen, Gaggenau, Vola and Dornbracht that have a minimalist sculptural feel. Examples include the classic "Form 1" with its elongated, repetitive drawers made of wood, or the new "Form 45" line, which is available with a brass finish, among other things.

"Form 1" and "Form 45" from Multiform

At Astep, Alessandro Sarfatti presents a new prototype together with David Thulstrup: the cylindrical pendant lamp "Isol" made of a bright, translucent fabric, which is fixed at the top and bottom respectively by metal rings. Alessandro Sarfatti, it should be mentioned here in passing, is the grandson of the legendary lighting designer Gino Sarfatti. The closeness to Italy's design history that comes with this becomes clear above all in personal conversation, for example when he enthusiastically raves about the far-sightedness of the entrepreneur Camillo Olivetti and his social commitment.

The cylindrical pendant lamp "Isol" from Astep

The exhibition "Ukurant Perspectives" of the design platform Ukurant subsequently shows 17 works by young designers. The result is appropriately experimental and pleasantly detached from the restrictions of commercial design. Raw concrete sculptures alternate here with finely meshed installations made of copper wire, and in general, for the first time, a fresh wind is blowing here that is concerned not only with the past, but with the future of Danish design. Incidentally, the idea behind the exhibition is to make it easier for graduates to make the transition to professional life. How well this works is not only evident from this year's partnership with Muuto, but also from the fact that "Ukurant Perspectives" takes place in one of the most beautiful spaces at 3daysofdesign.

Day two of the tour begins on the water: By rubber dinghy, we head for Nordhavn, a 19th-century harbor area that is currently the largest urban development project in Scandinavia. In addition to the existing area, additional building land is being reclaimed from the sea. From there, the tour continues by car to the showrooms of Kvadrat and Vitra, which are housed in the same building and connected by an industrial glass wall with large passageways. At Kvadrat, Peter Saville presents the "Technicolour" collection he designed, which refers to a color spectrum used to mark flocks of sheep and which the designer compares to landscape graffiti. It includes an upholstery fabric, two curtains and three rugs, the subtle colors of which reveal themselves in finely tuned nuances only upon close inspection and an appropriate incidence of light.

At Vitra, CEO Nora Fehlbaum awaits you, who has come by bike beforehand and, together with Erwan Bouroullec, invites you into the showroom designed by him. Fittingly, the cloudy sky also opens up and upon entering the airy premises, the view immediately falls on the opposite glass surface and the water glistening in the sun behind it – a wonderful setting to present products. These include, for example, the new "HAL Lounge Chair" by Jasper Morrison or the Vitra Accessories Collection with the "Locker Box" storage box or the "Chap" stool, both by Konstantin Grcic.

Next, the car takes us back downtown to Petersen Tegl. There, architect Peter Zinck gives a presentation that not only refers to the impressive portfolio of the Danish company, but also offers an entertaining insight into the collaboration with the architects. For example, one learns that the greenish color of the "Kolumba brick," which Petersen Tegel developed together with Peter Zumthor for the Kolumba Museum in Cologne, is due to a production error. The over-perfectionist Zumthor simply had to accept this due to the lack of time available, and apparently architectural masterpieces can also be created in this way. Things get much more abstract in the showroom of Linie Design, who have attached their handmade carpets to the wall like art objects and whose graphic patterns are also distributed around the room as sculptures. In addition, there is a performance in which two dancers move in the spatial field of tension between design and art. The tour finally ends in the Boffi showroom, where Japanese craftsmanship is celebrated.

The handmade carpets from Linie Design

The next morning, we cycle into the city: the first stop is the Norwegian paint manufacturer Jotun, which gives an insight into its new color worlds for interiors, inspired among other things by the work of interior designer Axel Vervoordt and the culinary art of the Buddhist nun Jeon Kwang. The next stop is then the Danish label Umage, which has its showroom at the harbor. Looking out the window from there, you can see Queen Margarethe II's luxury yacht Dannebrog and the BIG-designed Amager Bakke waste incinerator. Umage are more the former, although the furniture works on the Ikea principle and can be disassembled into its individual parts. An example is the lounge chair "A Conversation Piece", the backrest of which is interchangeable, resulting in a variety of design options. The packaging for the furniture parts is part of the design and can also be used as storage boxes.

The lounge chair "A Conversation Piece" from Umage

The tour finally ends at a former barracks site, which can be reached from Nyhavn via one of the new bicycle bridges. Here are housed several showrooms in the so-called D Studio, with a mix of Danish and Italian brands such as Louis Poulsen, B&B Italia, Maxalto, Arclinea or Flos. The coming together of Italy and Denmark also represents the supersalone and the 3daysofdesign, which, among other events this year, bring a trace of normality to the design scene. The Danes were clearly pleased with the international visitors and it is to be hoped that this will continue – because both events have already clearly shown how important personal exchange is for creative collaboration.