Earlier this month, the design crowd arrived in Copenhagen to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the city’s iconic 3 Days of Design. ICON shares the latest news and inspiration from the Danish capital
Photography courtesy of 3 Days of Design
Words by Jessica-Christin Hametner
To commemorate its 10th anniversary this year, 3 Days of Design (7-9 June 2023) delved into the theme Where would we be without you?, which emerged through a series of evoking conversations, design-led innovations and cross-disciplinary invention.
Held across 13 design districts, from the cool and industrial Refshaleøen to the up-and-coming cultural district Carlsberg Byen, Copenhagen provided the perfect backdrop for soaking up the Scandinavian summer sun and discovering the latest creations from Danish makers.
A culture of togetherness, trust and a strong sense of collective community are deeply embedded in Danish society, and this year’s 3 Days of Design, helmed by managing director Signe Byrdal Terenziani, was a reflection of these guiding values.
Photography courtesy of 3 Days of Design
The word Samfundssind, which is loosely translated as community spirit, perhaps best describes this edition. Showcasing Denmark’s design talent and the power of alliance, 3 Days of Design allowed visitors a deeper connection to Danish culture.
From serene interiors and tea ceremonies at New Works to the loud, vibrant colours and patterns dazzling visitors at Eilersen, to the eclectic aesthetic of Audo Copenhagen, and rising artists like Oh Land shaping the future of music, experience more of ICON’s highlights below as we travelled by foot, bike and boat to bring you the best design news from Denmark’s capital.
1. NoDe by House of Nordic Design
Photography by Lasse Dearmann featuring Natalia Sánchez, founder of House of Nordic Design
Bringing together emerging Nordic designer-makers, NoDe, an exhibition that celebrated the next generation of Scandinavian talent, made its debut during 3 Days of Design on a 300 sq m boat docked along the city’s edgy Refshaleøen neighbourhood, or Reffen as it’s known locally.
Curated by Natalia Sánchez, who recently founded her ever-growing platform House of Nordic Design, the exhibition provided a stage for up-and-coming creatives, as well as smaller companies and brands to present their work to the world.
Through Sánchez’s continued commitment to supporting new designers in their next chapter as creative professionals, she brings a source of fresh thinking and creativity to one of Copenhagen’s most exciting design districts.
Photography courtesy of NoDe featuring the Novel Chair by Ida Linea Hildebrand of Friends Founders; Sara Martinsen’s Plant Curtain; Astep Ublo Wall Light; Table by Ari Prasetya
When Copenhagen’s popular Papirøen, or Paper Island, closed in 2017, Refshaleøen provided a new creative hub for the city. Home to an organic street food market and trendy bakery Hart, the latter designed by Spacon & X, the former industrial site is now attracting artists, designers and makers who are giving the area a new lease of life.
Among the Scandi designers freshening up 3 Days of Design are Thomas Gayt, who originally hails from Paris and now works with aluminium and stainless steel; Danish designer Pernille Snedker giving the ancient art of marbling a contemporary twist; and Melbourne native Ari Prasetya who displayed his boundary-pushing designs.
‘I am having the best time of my life after opening my company, House of Nordic Design,’ says Sánchez. ‘My calling is to help emerging designers. It really makes my heart sing to do this 365 days a year, giving these talented creatives a platform for more than three days.’
2. The Airbag by FÓLK and Studio Flétta
Photography courtesy of FÓLK, Farniente Beach Club
Icelandic design studio Flétta has always experimented with waste. Since setting up their studio in 2014, founders Birta Rós Brynjólfsdóttir and Hrefna Sigurðardóttir aspire to reuse and upcycle materials into unique handmade products.
For this year’s edition of 3 Days of Design, the pair joined forces with Icelandic interior and lifestyle brand FÓLK to present The Airbag, a circular product made in Denmark using 96% discarded materials, and we think it’s the perfect accessory for any space.
Their project began following a visit to a car dealership where Flétta found airbags among the waste in various shades of pastel. The two got to work and revamped the airbags into beautiful, well-crafted pieces. As the global economy is only 7.2% circular, and numbers continue to decline, Studio Flétta and FÓLK are on a mission to turn the industry on its head by rethinking processes.
3. Dal Piece by ferm LIVING and Anna Maria Øfstedal Eng
Photography by Finn Christian Peper featuring ferm LIVING and Anna Maria Øfstedal Eng’s Dal Piece
Addressing environmental concerns within the design industry, ferm LIVING approached Oslo-based designer and maker Anna Maria Øfstedal Eng to realise an enduring piece that sets a benchmark for quality and craftsmanship.
Following their recent collaboration on the brand’s Morf Sculpture, the duo’s latest launch, called Dal Piece, is made entirely from recycled casted aluminium and references the forms and aesthetic found in the mountainside of Gudbrandsdalen in eastern Norway.
From her studio in Fjellhamar, the Norwegian artist finds inspiration in the beautiful rawness of nature, often working with local and recycled materials. ‘Walks in nature have always been a big part of my life, and I always find something inspiring to bring home with me; a funny looking rock, a crooked twig or curly mushroom,’ explains Øfstedal Eng.
It is this organic form that inspired both the elegant curves and name of the Dal Piece. With its intriguing shape, sculptural expression and recycled materials, the piece makes for an everlasting and sustainable object that chimes in perfect harmony with nature.
4. Reflections by Lise Vester Studio
Photography by Cecilie Jegsen featuring Lise Vester Studio’s Reflections
Inside the Lapidarium of Kings, situated in a 400 year old brewhouse of King Christian IV in the heart of Copenhagen, the 4,000 sq m space is filled with a royal collection of sculptures, natural stone figures and plaster models. It is here that DDcated, a design hub exhibiting independent makers and brands, displayed their vision of the future of design.
Among them was Copenhagen-dwelling creative Lise Vester whose collection, entitled Reflections, was bound to reignite anyone’s love of shiny objects. Supported by William Demant Foundation, a global hearing healthcare and audio technology group, the spectacular, mirrored pieces are crafted with freehand blown glass and silvering techniques.
Reimagining concave and convex mirror design, Reflections aims to create fresh perspectives through fine artistic craftsmanship. Vester, who studied at the Royal College of Art in London, believes in the healing power of design. With her reflective sculptural objects and sleek surfaces, she hopes to elevate the sensory and aesthetic experiences within design.
‘I hope to create design that enhances our wellbeing,’ Vester explains. ‘Aesthetic design can highlight the beauty of everyday life, but it can also challenge our perceptions of how we experience the world, by offering new perspectives and ways of thinking and behaving.’
5. Audo Copenhagen by MENU and by Lassen
Photography courtesy of Audo Copenhagen
Danish design firm MENU might be known for producing some of the design world’s most recognisable pieces – think the Afteroom Bar Chair by eponymous Stockholm-based studio Afteroom, as well as the Harbour Dining Chair by Norm Architects, among others – but now the label waves in a new era altogether.
Enter Audo Copenhagen, the product of a historic merger between MENU and Scandi cult brand by Lassen. Based in Copenhagen’s waterfront Nordhavn neighbourhood, one of Denmark’s most ambitious urban development projects to date, the Audo houses a restaurant, boutique hotel and a thoughtfully curated concept store, as well as a coworking space and perfectly styled café all under the same roof.
‘Audo Copenhagen will offer the same world-class design and collaborations that fans and followers of MENU, The Audo and by Lassen have come to expect,’ says design and brand director, Joachim Kornbek Engell-Hansen. ‘The product portfolio will be larger, of course, including furniture, accessories and lighting designs from both MENU and by Lassen.’
Visitors experienced eclectic interiors using a blend of textures and soft hues to create a Scandinavian-inspired aesthetic that feels both warm and inviting. Staying true to its values – a sense of community, collaboration and soft minimalism – The Audo focused on clean, simple lines and functionality without sacrificing beauty.
6. MR01 Outdoor Lounge Chair by Gubi and Noah
Photography courtesy of Gubi and Noah featuring a special edition of MR01 Outdoor Lounge Chair by Mathias Steen Rasmussen
In the spirit of collaboration, Copenhagen-based firm Gubi joined forces with New York retailer Noah in a creative fusion of fashion and design, which had the festival’s theme of collaboration and togetherness at its heart.
During 3 Days of Design, the duo unveiled a new range that featured a two-part collaboration comprising a ready-to-wear summer apparel and accessory line, and a special edition of the MR01 Outdoor Lounge Chair by Mathias Steen Rasmussen, providing a subtle nod to nautical design in beautiful shades of blue, grey and yellow.
Complementing the outdoor version of the MR01 Lounge Chair, the collaboration continued in a five-piece collection – that visually references rope throughout and gives a sense of being near the sea – consisting of an oversized beach towel, water-resistant 5-panel hat, swim shorts, tote bag and boat-neck sweater.
Evoking the laid-back beach lifestyle of seaside towns, the pieces reflect the pair’s love of the sea, where Noah’s coastal vision is shaped by East-Coast America, and Gubi’s longstanding relationship with shoreside style finds its roots in Copenhagen.
7. Under ONE ROOF by &Tradition
Photography courtesy of &Tradition featuring new product launch Mnemonic
Nestled along the picturesque Kronprinsessegade, Nordic label &Tradition deserved a pit-stop during the Danish design festivities, which saw its elegant, four-storey showroom and café Lille Petra, where homemade kombucha and dishes prepared by chef Søren Westh were on the menu, come to life with specially commissioned projects, objects and installations.
Melding modernity with tradition, Under ONE ROOF invited visitors to a sensory exploration of the brand, encompassing sight, sound, scent, taste and tactility. Each room told a different story and showcased both new and existing collections together.
From Spanish artist and designer Jaime Hayon’s Cabinet of Curiosities, exploring the inspiration and design process behind Hayon’s new home accessories collection, Momento, to his limited edition Formakami, other standout launches included the brand’s newly launched scented products range, Mnemonic, which finds its inspiration in Nordic nature.
Meanwhile, on the ground floor, an impressive pop-up shop, dedicated to design lovers and travellers seeking sustainable and design-led finds, featured a curated selection of books, &Tradition’s range Mnemonic and limited edition pieces, including the brand’s &Tradition x Sheworks tote bags.
Available during the duration of 3 Days of Design, &Tradition teamed up with Sheworks, a textile design studio based in Denmark transforming surplus materials into bespoke products, to develop a series of tote bags using leftover fabrics from the &Tradition upholstery process.
Photography courtesy of Ukurant featuring Laura Sonne Lund’s Creatures of the Woods
Back at Refshaleøen, an empty industrial warehouse played host to an exhibition of new design objects and young talent. Entitled Ukurant, the exhibition platform was initially brought to life in 2020 following countless conversations between its four founders: Kamma Rosa Schytte, Kasper Kyster, Josefine Krabbe and Lærke Ryom.
Established by young designers for young designers, it featured the work of an international roster of emerging talent, including Norwegian-born Mathias Brask-Nilsen Malm, American-Canadian creative Julian Gregory and Hong Kong-native Didi NG Wing Yin, who is based in Helsinki, among others.
Revealing both inventive and unconventional approaches to design where artistic and commercial values co-exist, Ukurant formed an integral part of the 3 Days of Design programme. Motivated by the potential of a community, it gathered talented creatives to show design from a young perspective – foregoing competitiveness and instead strengthening the individual position in a shared momentum.
9. Three by AHEC
Photography by Benjamin Lund featuring Three by AHEC
Three countries, three designers, three woods, three days. For the 10th edition of 3 Days of Design, the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) brought together a trio of Nordic talents, prompting a reconsideration of the creative potential of hardwood timbers.
As disrupted global supply chains and climate crisis create an urgent need for the design industry to rethink timber sourcing and make the switch to more environmentally responsible hardwoods, AHEC is setting out the case for American hardwoods such as red oak, cherry and maple.
Among the participating design-makers were Anne Brandhøj from Denmark, Pia Högman from Sweden, and Anna Maria Øfstedal Eng from Norway. Chosen by AHEC for their affinity with natural materials, their commitment to sustainable making, and the beauty and poetry of their practice, each was given one hardwood and free rein to explore its creative potential.
True to form, Three demonstrated the possibilities of these woods as sustainable, affordable materials through a trio of extraordinary pieces that tread the border between functional design and sculptural art. Weaving materials and shapes found in nature, the designers produced beautiful objects that displayed the natural beauty of wood.
10. Wak Chair by Mak Misho
Photography courtesy of Mak Misho featuring the Wak chair
‘Go big, or go home’ is the tagline for Mak Misho, a newly launched design label founded by Danish-Mallorcan designer Alexander Rantzau Hunderup and actress Nadia Rantzau Hunderup while on a cross-country American road trip.
Unabashedly playful and bright, the pair’s first launch, as unveiled during 3 Days of Design at DDcated, is their zany Wak chair. Taking its design cues from fashion, it wouldn’t feel out of place in a mid-century, Space Age interior.
With futuristic and curvy forms, Wak is crafted from polished stainless steel, plywood, walnut veneer and leather, while its seat can be easily replaced thanks to an innovative click system, which allows customers to change the appearance of the chair without having to purchase a new piece.
‘In a world evolving at a fast pace and with endless new possibilities, I wanted to create something that did not contribute to the throw-away society,’ says Alexander Rantzau Hunderup. ‘Instead, I wanted to make something fun and adaptable that could stay with people throughout a lifetime.’
11. 77 Chair by Finn Juhl
Photography courtesy of Finn Juhl featuring 77 Chair
Iconic furniture brand House of Finn Juhl made its 3 Days of Design debut with the 77 Chair, one of the many lesser-known designs that Juhl produced throughout his thirty-year career. With its refined and simple expression, 77 Chair is perhaps among Finn Juhl’s most atypical pieces.
Finding its design cues in the Bauhaus era, it features an architectural aesthetic alongside a renunciation of ornamentation. Evoking memories of international airport lounges and hotel lobbies of the 50s and 60s, 77 Chair constituted a turning point in Danish design as Juhl broke with the conservative language of the Klint School when he placed an upholstered body on slender steel legs.
‘The word iconic has become incredibly hard to avoid when it comes to the labelling of the furniture of the famous designers representing the Danish Modern period. However, not everything can be iconic, and there is a need to ensure that the term retains its meaning. The 77 Chair is not iconic,’ explains Hans Henrik Sørensen, co-founder of House of Finn Juhl.
‘But it still has its legitimacy here in 2023. It’s an atypical Finn Juhl design that does not feature his usual organic shapes, but instead has a strict graphical design language with clean lines. We believe that the 77 Chair will transcend the limitations of time precisely due to its understated relevance.’
12. Il Mercato by FRAMA
Photography by FRAMA
What was once St. Paul’s Apotek, a 19th-century apothecary, is now home to FRAMA, a multidisciplinary design brand that creates everyday objects for mindful living. Also doubling as a creative consultancy, the Danish label develops bespoke design solutions for architects and designers.
Highlighting the connection to nature and food culture, for 3 Days of Design FRAMA unveiled Il Mercato, an exhibition that provided a rich conversation about cross-industry collaboration. Bridging the link between its latest design launches, local produce and the marketplace, Il Mercato presented a hopeful showcase and new perspectives for living.
This thoughtful tone continued at Apotek 57, a café within the walls of the store, which still features the original oak pharmaceutical cabinets and ornately painted ceilings, where chef Chiara Barla and non-profit association Grønt Marked, serve up homemade, seasonal dishes and freshly baked goods.
Addressing food supply and global food infrastructure, a topic that significantly impacts public health and economic development, Il Mercato inspired visitors to make more conscious choices in their own lives by recognising the value of buying, producing and consuming locally, as well as reinforcing the importance of community and meaningful collaborations.
‘The kitchen is a place of care where food is prepared with love and attention to detail,’ says FRAMA’s Founder, Niels Strøyer Christophersen. ‘The Il Mercato exhibition embraced our passion for local produce and represented a sense of togetherness and connection.’
13. 2nd Cycle by Tekla x Artek
Photography courtesy of Tekla and Artek
The results of a collaboration between Tekla and Finnish furniture firm Artek, 2nd Cycle was a tribute to Finnish design and culture. To commemorate the 90th anniversary of its iconic Stool 60, Artek has turned Tekla Copenhagen into a gallery-inspired space that explored Tekla’s and Artek’s shared values of timeless design and creating beauty in the everyday.
Celebrating the creative exchanges and cross-pollination of the design industry, the installation featured both iconic pieces and the recently launched Stool 60 Kontrasti, which brings the virtues of responsible timber usage and holistic design thinking into focus, qualities and values that are shared by Tekla.
Working closely with Artek 2nd Cycle, a platform for pre-loved Finnish design that collects and sells vintage Aalto furniture, searching out well-worn items from flea markets and old factories to schools and shipyards, the installation highlighted the longevity and timeless beauty of Artek furniture.
14. Electric Elements by Louise Roe Gallery
Photography courtesy of Louise Roe featuring the Balloon Vase 04 in raw white
Keeping 3 Days of Design-goers sustained, Louise Roe Gallery is a uniquely minimalist concept store where art, design and hospitality converge. Complete with its own café, The Roe Bar, visitors can indulge in cups of aromatic coffees, matcha lattes or a spot of lunch during the festivities.
The menu reads healthy here: for breakfast the café serves up hearty overnight oats with seasonal compote, crisp coconut flakes and fresh berries, while for lunch there’s burrata with fresh peas, ramson oil and herbs served on grilled sourdough bread.
For the curious design customer, the gallery stocks an assortment of lighting by Michael Anastassiades year-round, as well as a carefully curated selection of coffee table books, covetable accessories and objects. During 3 Days of Design, Louise Roe unveiled its Electric Elements exhibition that shone a light on steel.
The Roe Studio, directed by Louise Roe and August Hugo, also added four new objects to the minimalist collection, plus the mother-daughter duo, Louise Roe Andersen and fashion stylist Sophia Roe, shared a preview of their upcoming tableware series, which is due to launch in early autumn. We’re keeping our eyes peeled.
15. Spoke Sofa by Anderssen & Voll and TAKT
Photography by Claudia Vega, OceanProductions featuring Spoke Sofa
Continuing the theme of transparency, responsibility and sustainability, Copenhagen-based furniture company TAKT launched its long-life, low waste Spoke Sofa in collaboration with Norwegian design duo Anderssen & Voll.
The first sofa from the Danish B Corp, Spoke has been entirely designed for repair, allowing customers to extend its life with replacement parts. Three years in the making, the piece, which is made from either solid beech or oak, was born from a desire to bring sustainable thinking to this historically wasteful furniture category.
Taking its name from the wooden spokes that form the backrest, one of the key visual elements of the design, spokes such as these are an age-old means of creating a flat supporting surface. A feature of English and Scandinavian utility chairs for centuries, Spoke Sofa takes this traditional craft technique and incorporates it into a distinctly contemporary aesthetic expression.
Foregrounding simplicity, comfort and natural materiality, TAKT continues on its mission to rethink the way we design by creating furniture for the mutual benefit of people and planet. Beautiful and enduring, the sofa breaks the unhealthy throw-away culture around furniture and shows what good design means today.
Get a curated collection of design and architecture news in your inbox by signing up to our ICON Weekly newsletter