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Katie in Copenhagen

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Last week I went to Copenhagen Denmark! I was there visiting my little sister who is studying there. Being of Danish decent it was pretty amazing to see where my family came from. While in Denmark I did the typical touristy stuff like visiting castles and really, really old churches but I also got to learn a bit about Danish design as well. Amazingly I even saw a vector pack element on a poster while walking downtown. That was pretty cool, whenever I work on a vector pack I guess I forget that people all over the world are buying them!

Before I left I got in touch with a few designers who are working in Copenhagen and got some great recommendations for sights to see relating to design. One such place is the Danish Design Center in downtown Copenhagen. I was really fortunate to set up a meeting with a designer, Morten, who is currently working there! He was kind enough to give me a private tour of the museum and introduce me to an amazing instillation artist Mads Hagstrøm. He currently has a show at the DDC called FlowMarket.

For me, FlowMarket was an intriguing user experience. On a long table he set up a bunch of different syringe bottles labeled with different emotions: happiness, truth, sensitivity and so on. At the end of the table there is a stack of shopping baskets, indicating our insatiable desire to be consumers. This piece really spoke to me because, in my opinion, we place far too much importance on material possessions.

Morten and I also walked through another exhibit called Sauma, user-driven design. Several of the pieces were typical house hold items but designed in an intelligent and beautifully simple way. One item in particular that I thought was interesting were these jackets with Velcro all over the outside of them. If a couple people wearing them bumped into each other they would be held tightly together. Some of the objects were more practical than others but they each were interesting perspectives on how products might be improved.

Denmark is known for the furniture design; the Egg chair seems to be their claim to fame. I flipped through a few interior design books with Morten and he explained that Danish homes are all very sparse in the amount of objects placed in a room. The beauty is in the negative spaces. This seems to be a trend emphasized in all aspects of design in Denmark.

There was a really interesting juxposition between old and new in Copenhagen. All the exteriors of the buildings were extremely old with lots of beautiful details on the outside. Inside most of the rooms were filled with modern furniture that had absolutely no decoration. I also learned that IKEA is pretty much the worst place to shop; it’s only for people who are really poor. I love IKEA, most of my apartment is furnished with IKEA furniture because it’s beautiful and simple. You can’t find furniture that is so beautiful for such a great price in the states. Well in Denmark, IKEA isn’t exactly a novelty since it’s been there for years.

After meeting with all these designers I got a pretty good perspective about the difference between American design and Danish design. One thing I found interesting is that in Denmark it seems most clients want very simple designs, with pretty much only typography and no frills to anything. Here it seems that most clients want everything but the kitchen sink! Danish designers seem to crave wanting to try something new that is overly designed and crazy looking, while I want to make all of my designs extremely simplistic! I found that really fascinating. I guess no matter where you are in the world you want to try doing something that is different from the norm.

My overall opinion of Danish design is that they strive to focus on the beauty of negative spaces. Their work is extremely simplistic but shows a wide range of stylistic voices through utilization of simple elements. Their sensitivity to typography was the most inspirational to me. I commend anyone who can use Helvetica for everything but still have the ability to make each piece unique.
Experiencing another country was so amazing and inspirational. Now, I just need to figure out the next country I will visit!

About the Author, Katie Major

I'm a graphic designer with a passion for typography, learning, photography, reading, knitting, and playing music. Check out some of my personal projects here.
Discover More by Katie Major

Discussion

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  • Adam

    haha, here it is!

  • Adam

    haha, here it is!

  • Simon H.

    Thanks for sharing :-) I really like the little bottles of “trust”.

  • http://www.worldofkaos.com kaos

    “I also learned that IKEA is pretty much the worst place to shop; it’s only for people who are really poor.”

    Ahrem.. Excuse me…

    Only snoody Copenhaniacs would come up with suck a messed up remark! I live in Denmark (born and raised) and I’m nowhere near poor – yet I still love Ikea for their simple and practical stuff. Ikea stuff is especially nifty if you’ve got kids around the house, because the strength of Ikea furniture is that you get design stuff for less than half the price, so you won’t cry your heart out when your little mini-me uses crayons all over the coffee-table.

    Shame on the guy that told you that Ikea is only for poor people. What a straight up idiot!

  • http://www.worldofkaos.com kaos

    “I also learned that IKEA is pretty much the worst place to shop; it’s only for people who are really poor.”

    Ahrem.. Excuse me…

    Only snoody Copenhaniacs would come up with suck a messed up remark! I live in Denmark (born and raised) and I’m nowhere near poor – yet I still love Ikea for their simple and practical stuff. Ikea stuff is especially nifty if you’ve got kids around the house, because the strength of Ikea furniture is that you get design stuff for less than half the price, so you won’t cry your heart out when your little mini-me uses crayons all over the coffee-table.

    Shame on the guy that told you that Ikea is only for poor people. What a straight up idiot!

  • Adam

    @kaos,

    Yeah, but carry on reading and you see it is quite made up for:

    “I love IKEA, most of my apartment is furnished with IKEA furniture because it’s beautiful and simple. You can’t find furniture that is so beautiful for such a great price in the states.”

  • Adam

    @kaos,

    Yeah, but carry on reading and you see it is quite made up for:

    “I love IKEA, most of my apartment is furnished with IKEA furniture because it’s beautiful and simple. You can’t find furniture that is so beautiful for such a great price in the states.”

  • http://www.worldofkaos.com kaos

    @adam,

    Yup, read that, and it warmed my heart. I just wanted to set the record straight that not all danes (actually, far from it) hates Ikea and think that it’s cheap crap made for poor people… ;-)

  • http://www.worldofkaos.com kaos

    @adam,

    Yup, read that, and it warmed my heart. I just wanted to set the record straight that not all danes (actually, far from it) hates Ikea and think that it’s cheap crap made for poor people… ;-)

  • http://www.blogoergosum.com Etienne

    @ Kaos
    Quite the same feeling for french people. IKEA is quite trendy and, as it’s not that expensive, lots of ppl are going there, from students to grand pa & grand ma’s.

    IKEA has also a company more classy called “HABITAT”. More expensive … They did a Daft Punk table years ago.

  • http://www.blogoergosum.com Etienne

    @ Kaos
    Quite the same feeling for french people. IKEA is quite trendy and, as it’s not that expensive, lots of ppl are going there, from students to grand pa & grand ma’s.

    IKEA has also a company more classy called “HABITAT”. More expensive … They did a Daft Punk table years ago.

  • Simon H.

    Thanks for sharing :-) I really like the little bottles of “trust”.

  • Casper

    Welcome to Denmark – cold as hell, innit?
    I’m surprised you didn’t mention the CPH Airport? All it’s interior were designed by Arne Jacobsen who also did the famed Egg chair..

    I’m not sure if I fully agree with your conclusion that Danish design emphasizes negative space – it certainly doesn’t show in clothes design for instance.

    Come back anytime!

  • Casper

    Welcome to Denmark – cold as hell, innit?
    I’m surprised you didn’t mention the CPH Airport? All it’s interior were designed by Arne Jacobsen who also did the famed Egg chair..

    I’m not sure if I fully agree with your conclusion that Danish design emphasizes negative space – it certainly doesn’t show in clothes design for instance.

    Come back anytime!

  • http://www.gomedia.us katie

    The main argument that I heard about IKEA was that it is mass produced furniture, there isn’t anything unique/special about it. I can understand that, but the sad truth is that EVERYTHING is mass produced in the states! I guess you have a choice between going to target for expensive mass produced stuff or ikea for cheap mass produced stuff!

  • http://www.gomedia.us katie

    The main argument that I heard about IKEA was that it is mass produced furniture, there isn’t anything unique/special about it. I can understand that, but the sad truth is that EVERYTHING is mass produced in the states! I guess you have a choice between going to target for expensive mass produced stuff or ikea for cheap mass produced stuff!

  • http://www.gomedia.us Liz

    One of my favorite “big company” stories is about Ikea. Apparently, years ago, an environmental group worked with them to reduce their overwhelming carbon footprint. By improving the way they manufactured their products, Ikea has become one of the more responsibly aware companies of our time.

    The whole idea that most of the products are assembled by the consumer in their own home, and not by a machine in some factory, plays a large role in how they’ve made a difference.

    My two cents.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Kim

    Cool post Katie!

  • http://www.gomedia.us Kim

    Cool post Katie!

  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    Very cool!

  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    Very cool!

  • LizHunt

    One of my favorite “big company” stories is about Ikea. Apparently, years ago, an environmental group worked with them to reduce their overwhelming carbon footprint. By improving the way they manufactured their products, Ikea has become one of the more responsibly aware companies of our time.

    The whole idea that most of the products are assembled by the consumer in their own home, and not by a machine in some factory, plays a large role in how they’ve made a difference.

    My two cents.

  • ChequeredManiac

    Nice little piece. Maybe you should head down to Venezuela. I’ve seen a lot of good design come out of there.

  • Sue Major

    You’ve captured the essence of your Danish experience, particularly the DDC work you observed. The photos certainly indicate you have an eye for your chosen profession. Perhaps you will be able to incorporate some of your Danish lessons into your Cleveland designs.

  • Sue Major

    You’ve captured the essence of your Danish experience, particularly the DDC work you observed. The photos certainly indicate you have an eye for your chosen profession. Perhaps you will be able to incorporate some of your Danish lessons into your Cleveland designs.

  • ChequeredManiac

    Nice little piece. Maybe you should head down to Venezuela. I’ve seen a lot of good design come out of there.

  • http://www.nimpscher.de Nimpscher

    humm i don’t think the aim of IKEA is to be unique. But they do a lot for giving people well designed stuff for a very good price. And the more people become a view for good design, the better for all of us (as designers ;) )

    Must be awesome to see his artwork nearly on he other side of the world!

    Greets Nimpscher

  • http://www.nimpscher.de Nimpscher

    humm i don’t think the aim of IKEA is to be unique. But they do a lot for giving people well designed stuff for a very good price. And the more people become a view for good design, the better for all of us (as designers ;) )

    Must be awesome to see his artwork nearly on he other side of the world!

    Greets Nimpscher

  • http://mobiletimes.in Indian Smartphones

    there goes again.. ikea rocks.. you are awesome people.. i love the way they make up things..
    its kinda trendy, fashionate and fun. all this for a adorable cost :p. i just love it..
    Bedroom Furniture

  • http://www.furniturefactoryoutlet.net/ dominic

    A furniture outlet can be a terrific way to outfit your home or office in comfort and style at a low cost. Outlet stores have been around for years now and have been a way for anyone, but especially bargain shoppers to get the brand name and top of the line products such as clothing, shoes and even pots and pans, at lower prices than they would find at a regular retailer.

  • kraftmaid kitchen cabinets

    I've seen a lot of good design come out of there.

  • stihl hedge trimmers

    it's good. share experience

  • Dan

    Excellent job..
    dizi izle

  • http://www.modernfurniturewarehouse.com/ Modern Furniture

    That is a really nice place to visit and relax.