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The Warsaw Voice » Other » December 3, 2008
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Danish Design
December 3, 2008   
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Søren Juul Jørgensen, Counselor, Head of Economic and Commercial Department at the Danish embassy in Warsaw, talks to Ewa Hancock.

The term "Danish design" has become as much a synonym as "French elegance." How would you explain this phenomenon?
Denmark is a "design nation." This is perhaps even more true today than ever, as design has developed well beyond what could be conceived by the early generation of designers. The classic Danish design had its breakthrough from the 1950s and 60s. I think the concept is generally most related to furniture and industrial design where several well-known classics bear witness to the special combination of form and function. They emphasized user-friendliness, respect of materials, and simplification as the means to achieve beauty. But the phenomenon has developed much.

Today Danish design is also closely related to product development and graphic design. Environmental sustainability and energy efficiency, and usability have also become key issues, and design is an important element of innovation and innovative processes. Oticon hearing aids are a perfect example of this.

Can you give some examples of the popularity of Danish design around the world?
Well, there are of course the exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York or the Danish Design furniture used at the National Art Center in Tokyo, to name two places at each side of the globe. Other examples are the famous Sidney Opera House designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon, and Johann Otto von Spreckelsen's 20-year-old Arc de Triomphe in the La Défense district of Paris. Or take "The Chair" by Wegner that President Kennedy insisted on using in television debates during his election campaign; the BoConcept bar-chairs in the new James Bond movie; or the advanced Arne Jacobsen cutlery in Stanley Kubrik's Space Odyssey. I actually think you can come across examples everywhere. And that is perhaps the point. The special combination of form and function seems to have a general appeal. What I find interesting is that Danish designers seem continuously to have adjusted and developed their ideas and products and not just continued with what has become Danish design classics. These days we see a whole new generation of young Danish designers with new ideas and new concepts-but still with roots back to traditional quality Danish design. That is very promising.

Does Danish design sell well in Poland?
Very well, yes-and there is a growing interest. Danish Design icons such as B&O are well represented. So are the furniture and "everyday living" brands such as Bodum and the fashion and jewelry names. BoConcept has been selling Danish Design furniture here for many years and the fashion company IC Companys is very successful with their Danish-designed fashion through its brand names such as Soaked in Luxury, Cottonfield and Jackpot. Another area that is developing fast is architecture for living and working. As a recent example I could also mention the Danish architects Bjerg-Szpalerski, who won a design competition for a new city hall in Garwolin not long ago.
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