De­signed to be stylish: The Danes are here to stay

Our love af­fair with Dan­ish de­sign con­tin­ues to grow for all the right rea­sons,

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Contents - writes Robyn Wil­lis More: Royal Copen­hagen is avail­able in Aus­tralia from David Jones, david­jones.com.au

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.

Crown­ing glory

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.

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