Designed to be stylish: The Danes are here to stay
Our love affair with Danish design continues to grow for all the right reasons,
Before he became creative director at Royal Copenhagen Neils Bastrup had a career in high fashion, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Karl Lagerfeld. But it was the role with a Danish ceramics company that made an impact on his parents.
“I said to my parents I was interviewing for Royal Copenhagen and they were so excited,” Niels says.
“I grew up with the blue-fluted flower pattern in my house. When my mother gave birth for the first time, my grandfather told her she could choose from the Royal Copenhagen range.”
Niels was in Sydney last month to launch Royal Copenhagen in Australia, the latest of several iconic Danish brands now available here.
The brand, which was established by Queen Juliane Marie in 1775, is still associated with formality and tradition in Denmark. Known for its trademark blue and white pattern, Niels says Royal Copenhagen is still innovating.
He has challenged the company’s designers to take the brand into the 21st century, within reason. Sometimes, he says, the restriction to stay with the blue and white pattern is the mother of invention.
“The higher the walls you build and the narrower you make the square for the designer, the more they will find a little hole to squeeze through,” he says.
The higher the walls you build and the narrower you make the square for the designer, the more they will find a little hole to squeeze through
Even before Hobart’s Mary Donaldson became Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark after marrying her prince in 2004, Australians have had a strong connection with the Scandinavian country. This is thanks largely to Danish architect Jørn Utzon Utzon, who designed the Sydney Opera House, which celebrates its 45th birthday this year.
But there’s more to it than that. Niels puts a shared sensibility down to a connection to the ocean — and a love for the good life.
“There is a love for a certain aesthetic that is mirrored in both countries — the
ocean and nature,” he says. “When you go out here [in Sydney] and you see the beauty of the city and you meet genuinely nice people, you also see a quality lifestyle which very easily mirrors Denmark.”
Although Royal Copenhagen dinnerware is often kept for special occasions, Niels says it is flexible enough to adapt to different styles of dining, whether formal or casual.
He just has one request.
“Please don’t put plants in something you are drinking from,” he says. “And don’t use the jugs as a vase. We are still Royal Copenhagen.”
Old favourites, new loves
The ceramics company joins a growing list of Danish brands making themselves at home in Australia.
This year marks 60 years since furniture designer Arne Jacobsen released his Egg chair and Drop chair, which were originally designed for Copenhagen’s SAS Royal Hotel. Available through Cult stores here, the designs continue to be firm favourites.
Such is the appeal Great Dane Furniture recently expanded, opening a new flagship showroom in Paddington.
But Danish design continues to evolve, with designers releasing new furniture and homewares every year. What they all have in common is a love for natural materials and a commitment to quality. No wonder Niels’ parents were impressed.
Creative director for Royal Copenhagen, Niels Bastrup (above), says the next three years will see the brand continue to modernise while maintaining its trademark style and craftsmanship.