THE DESIGN SUPERPOWER DENMARK
Contemporary Danish brands are booming here in the UK. But why? And who do you need to know?
The Danish home’s air of natural, unstudied grace is not overly masculine or feminine, and thus embraces all tastes. It never looks like the owners have tried too hard because, for Danes, good design is not a luxury for the few, but an integral part of everyday life for all. Also Denmark, like the UK, has plenty of inclement weather, which forces people to spend a lot of time indoors, so wellbeing at home is important to them. All in all, it’s no wonder that the country’s signature style has caught on in a big way over here. These are the brands that should be on your radar.
AYTM ( AYTM. DK)
Who’s behind the brand? It was established in 2015 by husbandand-wife team Kathrine and Per Gran Hartvigsen. What does it sell? Taking an ‘expressive approach to Nordic design’, AYTM works a rich palette and plays with the contrast between matt and reflective surfaces. The new collection, from vases and poufs to side tables, has a sense of understated luxury that’s best summed up as Danish with an international outlook. How does it define Danish style? ‘ We chase light in the north, since it gets so dark in winter,’ says creative director Kathrine. ‘Danes love open and bright spaces with lots of windows and doors that help us feel connected to the outside. I also think our mentality and temperament are tuned in to simplicity and natural materials.’ Where can I buy it? Dopo Domani (dopo-domani.com) has a good selection and ships worldwide; in the UK, Couverture & The Garbstore (couvertureandthegarbstore.com) sells the brand’s accessories.
BLOOMINGVILLE ( BLOOMINGVILLE.COM)
Who’s behind the brand? It was established in 2000 by Betina Stampe. An advocate of the joys of regularly switching up your surroundings, she aims to offer a wealth of choice so that you can curate your home in a way that makes you feel happy. What does it sell? Each year Bloomingville releases two main collections, five smaller ones and a Christmas range covering accessories, lighting and furniture – it even caters for children and pets. A constant source of inspiration, this interiors powerhouse is especially skilled at reinterpreting the latest colour and material trends to fit with the natural simplicity of the Danish aesthetic. How does it define Danish design? ‘It tends to be straightforward, yet capable of making a strong statement: that’s thanks to our appreciation of the small details, quality of materials and excellence of craftsmanship,’ says Stampe. Where can I buy it? The top UK stockist is Amara (amara.com).
BROSTE COPENHAGEN ( BROSTECOPENHAGEN.COM)
Who’s behind the brand? Though its look is highly contemporary, this company was set up in 1955 when Ulf Brøste, the son of a Danish salt merchant, gathered together a handful of craftsmen and commercialised the manufacture and export of their products. What does it sell? The in-house team at Broste Copenhagen work with the natural character and colour of materials, creating cleanlined pieces that celebrate the simple Nordic way of life. The brand’s offering extends to furniture, lighting, textiles and art, but its tabletop edit is particularly strong. How does it define Danish design? ‘Design is in the nation’s DNA,’ says Broste Copenhagen’s creative director Charlotte Thorhauge Bech. ‘ We grew up with classic pieces and are surrounded by them every day. It’s raw and rustic, it uses natural materials, subtle colours and is both feminine and masculine.’ Where can I buy it? Nordic House (nordichouse.co.uk) and Graham & Green ( grahamandgreen.co.uk).
HAY ( HAY. DK)
Who’s behind the brand? Husband-and-wife duo Rolf and Mette Hay and businessman Troels Holch Povlsen set up Hay in 2002, with the aim of producing new Danish design classics that are accessibly priced. It now operates in 50 countries. What does it sell? A colourful and covetable collection of furniture, accessories and textiles that reimagine 1950s and 60s Danish Modernism for a contemporary audience. Hay’s in-house team works with an impressive roster of international designers including Doshi Levien, Scholten & Baijings and the Bouroullec brothers. In 2016 the company also launched lighting label Wrong.london under the creative direction of British designer Sebastian Wrong. A collection with Ikea is set to be released later in 2017. How does it define Danish design? ‘ What Danish design can do is to carefully balance simplicity and warmth with functionality,’ says Rolf Hay. Where can I buy it? The full range is available at the Hay store in Bath, while e-tailer Nest (nest.co.uk) also has a good selection.
MUUTO ( MUUTO. COM)
Who’s behind the brand? Creative director Kristian Byrge and his business partner Peter Bonnén established Muuto, which means ‘new perspective’ in Finnish, a decade ago. The duo share an affection for Nordic design traditions and a desire to add to that heritage. What does it sell? A functional, fairly minimalist range of furniture, lighting and everyday objects in a wider range of materials and colours than is typically associated with Scandinavian design. Muuto collaborates with top designers including Iskos-berlin, Norway Says and Anderssen & Voll, all of whom are given just two rules to follow: products must have a Scandinavian feel and live up to the promise of a new perspective. Its portfolio includes the already iconic ‘Fiber’ chair and ‘Oslo’ sofa series. How does it define Danish design? ‘The Scandinavian tradition of creating long-lasting design, focusing on quality and details, with all the elements of a given design being there for a reason, is part of our culture,’ says Byrge. Where can I buy it? London design boutiques such as Haus (hauslondon.com), Skandium (skandium.com) and Twentytwentyone (twentytwentyone.com), which all have online shops.
LOUISE ROE ( LOUISEROE. DK)
Who’s behind the brand? After a decade working in the interiors industry, designer Louise Roe decided to go solo, setting up her eponymous label in 2010 with the aim of designing and manufacturing sophisticated pieces. What does it sell? Elegant cushions, throws and rugs with a graphic slant, plus handsome homewares crafted from authentic materials – think cut-glass vases, enamel bowls, marble chopping boards and copper tealight holders. Essentially, beautiful pieces with a purpose. How does it define Danish design? ‘Danish style is characterised by simplicity, matching colours, light tones, quality craftsmanship and an awareness of our country’s rich design legacy,’ says Roe. ‘The Danish way of decorating a home is about creating “the whole expression”. Everything fits together and nothing is left to chance. Danish people are quite houseproud and often invite friends and family over for dinner, and we want our homes to reflect our personal sense of style and personality.’ Where can I buy it? Royaldesign.co.uk has a well-rounded selection of the brand’s pieces, while edits are available from Couverture & The Garbstore (couvertureandthegarbstore.com) and Made Modern (mademodern.co.uk).