Author

Kai Lauridsen

Browsing

Minimalism is a trend that has yet to influence living spaces. Space is a resource that is sometimes overlooked in sustainable architecture. Life quality decreases as population density increases since pollution levels rise, population goes out of hand, and resources become more expensive. Many of us in the Philippines are experiencing these effects firsthand.

Manila is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the capital region had a population of 12.9 million people in 2015, inhabiting an area of 620 square kilometers – that’s around 21,000 people per square kilometer. In the same year, New York had a population of 8.5 million people living in a 784 square kilometer area, or about 11,000 people per square kilometer.  This means that Manila is nearly twice as densely populated as New York City, the most crowded city in the United States. Other cities that are having difficulties with rapidly growing populations include Karachi, Mumbai, and Jakarta.

Designers are now thinking of ways to reduce living space by creating homes that are compact, stylish, and easy to construct. Living in small homes discourages mindless consumerism (since you wouldn’t have enough storage space if you buy too many things) and uses less resources like electricity, which prompts people to live greener lifestyles as well.

Not Your Average Cardboard House

The Wikkelhouse is designed by the Dutch studio Fiction Factory. They created this recyclable structure that can (supposedly) last a century. It is lined with waterproof coating and wood paneling to make it more durable while 24 layers of cardboard are used for the body. The lightweight material also allows it to be brought anywhere and constructed within a day.

The Zero-Carbon Caravan

Green Cat Technologies from France presented a self-powered caravan that sources its power from sunlight and wind. The 26-foot trailer can be unfolded to maximize space and transform into a 420-square-foot home. There’s enough room for a small family, and the house even includes a deck where you can host intimate parties.

If IKEA Sold Houses

The Pin-Up Houses designed by Small House Architects is a three-part house you can build in three hours – by a team of three people. They claim it’s easy enough to build on your own, in fact their website sells a book How to Build a Tiny House  to help you out with the process. The sections are color coded and are for sleeping, working, and cooking.

The Luxe Box

KODA by Estonian firm Kodasema is a moveable, two-storey house that sources its power from solar panels. Unlike the other compact homes, it arrives whole so it spares you from manual labour, plus it also takes less than a day to install. It’s made out of concrete-timber composite panels which keeps the structure sturdy and independent of a foundation.

The Transformer

TEN FOLD Engineering’s unfolding building takes convenience up a notch. Their structures are easily transportable and open up with a push of a button. The buildings come in varying sizes and are fit for a multitude of uses, such as homes, offices, clinics, schools, and shops. It doesn’t need a foundation and is powered by solar panels.

Child’s Play

EkoJunto is a Costa Rican company that sells bricks which are completely made out of recycled PET plastic. The bricks are shaped to make them fit with one another like Lego blocks, making it easier for people to assemble a house. This innovative method of upcycling doesn’t only benefit the environment, but low-income people as well.

Imagine if these inventions are utilized to help solve our problems here in Metro Manila. I think the EkoJunto would be especially beneficial, to rid the city of trash while also providing homes for the poor.

There are many ways to help solve our issues on space, but it would mean giving up on a lot of excesses and living simpler lives. We are conditioned to believe that having bigger homes and more things lead to a happier life, but consumerism and greed are big factors contributing to environmental degradation.

Frank Gehry at a Glance

Name: Frank Owen Gehry
Date of Birth: February 28, 1929
Place of Birth: Toronto, Canada
Design Signature:
   Deconstructivism – an architectural style with a deliberately chaotic outcome
   Fluidity – expressed in the use of metallic folds in multiple buildings
   Asymmetry – his buildings defy the convention of rigid structure and often look warped
Signature Material: Corrugated metal

Frank Owen Gehry is a Canadian-born American architect is one of the world’s most notable architects. He was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1989, with the jury citing the following, “Always open to experimentation, he has as well a sureness and maturity that resists, in the same way that Picasso did, being bound either by critical acceptance or his successes. His buildings are juxtaposed collages of spaces and materials that make users appreciative of both the theatre and the back-stage, simultaneously revealed.”

Frank Gehry’s Iconic Works

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
By Zarateman (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Museo Guggenheim Bilbao By Zarateman (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Bilbao, Spain
  • Year of Completion: 1997
  • The Guggenheim Museum’s Bilbao branch is said to be Gehry’s finest masterpiece. The building transformed the sleepy city into one of Spain’s top destinations; it has a tremendous impact in the city that it became known as the “Bilbao effect” when innovative architecture give new life to old cities. The titanium panels are curved randomly and are aimed to catch and reflect light, which the New Yorker remarked to be similar to fish scales.
Dancing House (Tančící dům)
Praha_New Town, The dancing House. Gehry – Milunic 1996 | Image by Jan Sokol
  • Location: Prague, Czech Republic
  • Year of Completion: 1996
  • The Dancing House stands out amidst the art nouveau and baroque buildings of Prague. Designed in collaboration with Vlado Milunić, the building fuses a glass tower that is seemingly sucked into a concrete structure. The building resembles two people dancing, hence it’s nickname “Fred and Ginger” named after Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The building’s conception was significant at the time since it was built a few years after communism fell; it was quite symbolic of an embrace towards modernity and globalisation.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
The Walt Disney Concert Hall | This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID pplot.13725. | Image by Carol M. Highsmith
  • Location: Los Angeles, USA
  • Year of Completion: 2003
  • The flexible form of the Walt Disney Concert Hall is a metaphor for the movement of music. The metallic panels allow the building’s colour to shift throughout the day, since the panes have the ability to reflect light. Although the building was originally planned to consist of stone, Gehry decided to use metal instead due to its malleable properties, giving the building more free-flowing contours. The lobby also features concrete and wooden structures enveloping on top of one another giving it a vortex-like effect similar to the outside.
Fondation Louis Vuitton
By Valueyou – When in Paris, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44170810
  • Location: Paris, France
  • Year of Completion: 2014
  • The museum consists of a group of blocks called “icebergs” – created from fibre-reinforced concrete – which are shielded by curving glass panels that look like sails. The sails give the building an illusion of lightness despite its massive size. It makes the building look alive and fluid despite the toughness of the materials. The building is a stark contrast to the historic buildings of Paris, but it is located at the farther edges of the city to avoid clashing with the traditional architecture. It is one of Gehry’s most innovative projects to date, utilising new software to allow the architects to work on its elaborate silhouette digitally.
Neuer Zollhof

  • Location: Düsseldorf, Germany
  • Year of Completion: 1998
  • Neuer Zollhof is a complex located in the city’s port which consists of three buildings, each having its own distinct design. Despite having different materials and colours, the buildings are unified by Gehry’s signature deconstructivist approach to shape. The east building is the tallest and is composed of white, concrete cylindrical towers; the second one at the centre is coated in shiny stainless steel with a wave-like façade; whereas the third one is the most geometrical and is composed of red brick. The windows jut out of the buildings, giving their exteriors “texture” while maximising ventilation at the same time.

Frank Gehry in MasterClass

Gehry: “As an artist, I got constraints. Gravity is one of them. But within all those constraints, I have 15% of freedom to make my art.”

Those who’d like to learn from one of the world’s most renowned architects, join his first online class in MasterClass.

Imagine if you were colorblind and you were not able to see the colors around you the way most people do. Imagine if you could not distinguish violet, lavender and purple because they just look like different shades of blue, or if you confuse red with black or dark grey.

Color blindness is a condition that prevents people from seeing color the way everybody else does. Around eight percent of males and less than one percent of females are estimated to be colorblind.

How would this affect daily life? Think of driving and having to find a method to “read” traffic lights, or finding it hard to know if a fruit is ripe or not, or having to navigate this handicap if you want to be a fashion or interior designer, an artist, a policeman, or a pilot who has to maneuver a plane using complex cockpit instruments.

Visible light is a spectrum of color that most people can perceive. When light hits an object, it absorbs every color except for one that it reflects back, and that reflected color is what our eyes can see.

Colorblind people have defective retinas which hinder them from seeing certain shades in the color spectrum. One of the most common forms of color blindness is the red-green deficiency. It’s not a literal kind of “blindness” because colorblind people can still see these colors, but not in the way most people can. A common example would be seeing colors in faded shades.

Aside from the red-green color blindness, there is the blue-yellow color blindness, and the rare complete color blindness where people don’t see color at all.

There isn’t any cure for colorblindness, but technology has been able to help some people cope with this condition. A fairly recent invention is the EnChroma glasses, which use light filters to remove the shades between red and green. This way, colorblind people with the red-green deficiency can distinguish the two colors more clearly.

While the glasses only work for those with red-green deficiencies, it is certainly a big step towards helping people with color blindness.

The videos here show success stories with these glasses. You can see how amazed people become when they see these colors for the first time in their lives. It’s bewildering to them since color is not something you can describe with words alone. It helps them experience the world more perceptively, as they become conscious of these colors that they never knew existed.

We often tend to abuse our eyesight in our current, digital world, when we constantly glue our eyes to the screens of our phones.

The ability to see color is a gift that we often take for granted. I know I do. So from now on, I will remember to be grateful that the cones in my eyes are just fine, and try to fully experience the colors that I see all around me.

The golden ratio is a ratio found in nature that somehow makes an object aesthetically appealing. Artists throughout history such as Salvador Dali and Leonardo Da Vinci attempted to create works based on this proportion in order to make them look beautiful. This ratio has also been applied into architecture for centuries, such as the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The nautilus shell is a common example of the golden ratio found in nature

In architecture, this ratio is applicable through the use of rational spacing. Incredible precision and a particular allotment of space can unconsciously create a big difference to one’s perception. This does not only hold true to length and width of a building’s foundation, but it’s applicable to the structure’s height as well. In order to achieve the “perfect” proportion, all these forms of measurement must be taken into consideration.

You also see this in everyday design, especially those that incorporate curving silhouettes such as spiral staircases. A common piece of furniture that incorporates the golden ratio is the chaise longue, which is somewhat like a hybrid of a couch and a chair but with a curved body.

Here are a few architectural examples that utilizes the golden ratio:

The Parthenon’s façades By Barcex – Self-published work by Barcex, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The Parthenon in Greece is a common example of its utilization. Although it is still under debate, some claim that a succession of rectangles, each comprising of lengths proportional to the golden ratio, was used as a basis for measuring its façade.

By Momin Bannani from London, UK via Wikimedia Commons
Great Mosque of Kairouan in Tunisia

Some researchers say that the Great Mosque of Kairouan in Tunisia used the golden ratio in the proportions of its overall plan. The courtyard, the minaret, and the prayer space, for instance, have dimensions that adhere                     to the golden ratio.

COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Plattegrond van de Borobudur TMnr 10015639
Borobudur’s layout

Borobudur is the world’s largest Buddhist temple in Magelang, Indonesia, with a giant stupa in the middle of the complex. The temple is set on a squarish base that depicts a mandala.  When viewed aerially, it resembles the spiral in the golden ratio.

663highland [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo, Japan (Image by 663highland)
Corbu weissenhof lores.jpg
Haus Le Corbusier in Stuttgart, Germany (Image by Tyke)

During the modernist period, the Swiss architect Le Corbusier was known to be dependent on this ratio when conceiving his designs. He developed his own scale of proportions called the Modulor which was modelled after the golden ratio. His use of the Modulor was very apparent in his work since most of his designs involved           rectangular structures.

The Fibonacci Sequence

Technically speaking, the Golden Ratio is based on a series of numbers called the Fibonacci Sequence which is a series of numbers that gradually adds up to the previous numeral, producing a sequence like: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13… and so on, but that will be applied later.

First, you multiply one side of a square – let’s say this square has a dimension of 1×1 – by 1.618 and you get a rectangle with a dimension of 1×1.618. Set aside the original 1×1 square on the rectangle and you are left with a smaller rectangle. Constantly divide  the rectangles by more squares until the entire rectangle (the one that’s 1×1.618) consists of a succession of squares growing smaller.

Starting from the smallest square, draw a curve from one end to the opposite one and connect it to the neighbouring square until you create a long spiral. This follows the Fibonacci Sequence since the length constantly increases based on the sum of the past two numbers.

30 St Mary Axe in London by Norman Foster and Ken Shuttleworth | Image By Aurelien Guichard from London, United Kingdom – 30 St Mary Axe, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

It sounds complicated, but it is surprisingly a simple task to recognise something that is perfectly proportional. Our inclination to the golden ratio may be subconscious since we are supposedly predisposed to see it. It can’t be explained completely, but this mathematical calculation is the closest definition we have to understanding the golden ratio concretely.

SaveSave

As the population continues to grow and our resources become more scarce, the only rational way to solve this crisis is by living more sustainably. Most people nowadays are situated in urban areas which are predominantly manmade, disconnecting us from the natural environment.

The Ayala Museum is holding an exhibit on Living Architecture, which they described as an approach that helps re-integrate our manmade structures back to nature. The movement began in the 20th Century and is currently flourishing, thanks to the technological innovations we have made in the past few decades.

“ORGANIC ARCHITECTURE”

Architects in the early 20th Century wanted to redefine the concept of buildings. Rather than creating boring cubic structures, architects in this era began taking inspiration from the natural world.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Fallingwater is a residential family home in Pennsylvania built in the 1930’s. Wright set the house on top of a natural waterfall, incorporating the building into the surrounding forest rather than destroying it. Wright also used natural stone for the walls and the floors to help the house blend into the environment.

Antoni Gaudí

The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is a church that lacks any ornamentation. The structure in itself contains a lot of intricate details that serve as “decorations” for the building. Gaudí was always fascinated by nature’s “designs,” creating buildings based on the structure of trees, with “branches” and “leaves” sprouting from its foundation.

Rudolf Steiner 

Steiner’s designs were often inspired by metamorphosis and spirituality. As seen in the First Goetheanum in Switzerland, the domes are comparable to a shell of a nut that confines what’s inside it. Similarly, the connected domes symbolise the link between the spiritual and the physical worlds.

ENLIVENING MODERNISM

With cities damaged and economies collapsing after the Second World War, functionalism seemed like the sensible choice to help rebuild urban areas. Some architects wanted a more humane approach to architecture and strove to balance aesthetics and function, proving that cutting-edge design doesn’t have to be unnecessary.

Jørn Utzon

The Sydney Opera House is no doubt Australia’s most distinctive building. Utzon subverted the conventional silhouette and created sculptural, shell-like structures to shelter the interior. He envisioned it to look like the sails of a ship since it’s situated near the water.

Alvar Aalto

Aalto is best known for Finlandia Hall, an asymmetrical building with various cubic protrusions that aim to improve the acoustics inside the building. Other than architecture, Aalto also experimented with wood and incorporated his innovations (such as bent wood) into furniture design.

Hans Scharoun

Scharoun believed that buildings should be designed from the inside-out, taking into consideration its indoor function before designing its exterior. This is exemplified in the Berliner Philharmoniker where the orchestra is situated in the middle of the room to allow the audiences to be closer to the performers.

REGIONAL DIVERSITY

Postmodernist buildings in the 60s and 70s were rich in symbolism. Architects took cues from the modernist perspective but integrated traditional motifs that were influenced by the culture of the place. Local handicrafts and materials were also used for the building’s construction.

Renzo Piano 

The Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre in New Caledonia was inspired by the traditional Kanak houses but also made use of modern, lightweight materials – together with wood and stone – to create the pavilions. It showcased the Kanak culture’s relationship with nature by setting it in the forest while at the same time introducing newer materials for its foundation.

Gregory Burgess

The fluid design behind the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre represents Kuniya and Liru, two mythical figures in Anangu folklore who take the shapes of snakes. They are said to be the “ancestors” of Tjurkurpa, an abstract concept that Anangu culture is founded upon.

Fariborz Sahba

The Lotus Temple in New Delhi was built for the Baha’i Faith, a teaching that believes in the equality of all religions. Sahba appropriately chose the lotus flower as its blueprint, since the lotus is an important figure in various religions, symbolising the union of India’s diverse people.

SUPPORTING LIFE PROCESSES

The 21st Century welcomed a technological boom that allowed us to create buildings more efficiently and sustainably. While industrialisation has negatively impacted our ecosystem, technology is also constantly evolving and improving, allowing us to benefit from it more. Contemporary architects take a holistic approach to ensure a balance between environmental preservation, community building, and urban development. These are some great examples of projects that are either low-impact, self-sustaining, or environmentally beneficial.

Norwegian Tourist Routes and Pavilions by Carl-Viggo Hølmebakk, Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter, and Snøhetta

The trails coursing through Norway’s dramatic landscape leaves no mark on the delicate ecosystem. The elevated forest paths give room to the trees by winding around them while the pavilions are constructed with metal and glass coatings to help insulate them from the harsh climate. It exemplifies how manmade structures can coexist peacefully with the natural environment.

The Gardens by the Bay by WilkinsonEyre Architects and Grant Associates

The project consists of climate-controlled glasshouses that simulate various biomes which are now home to multiple species of plants. It is both aesthetically pleasing and beneficial since it cleans the air. This is one of the rare instances where urban development can actually rehabilitate the environment as opposed to destroying it.

30 St Mary Axe by Foster and Partners

Also known as “The Gherkin,” this London landmark does not a require a large amount of electricity to sustain itself. It’s aerodynamic shape allows wind to easily pass through it which naturally ventilates the building, while its glass façade and circular shape helps sunlight permeate easily.

Green School and Village by PT Bambu and Ibuku Design

Situated in a Balinese rainforest, these thatched houses are built out of bamboo, grass, and adobe. Bamboo is not only an incredibly sturdy and hardy material, but it is also the fastest growing plant in the world which makes it an ideal, sustainable material for construction. The buildings also have aerodynamic forms to help improve ventilation and lighting.

Den Blå Planet by 3XN

This metallic, vortex-like aquarium stands out like a UFO in the Kastrup flatlands, but barely leaves a negative impact in the surrounding environment. The building supplies its aquarium water from the Øresund Strait and recycles it to cool the building before purifying it and releasing it back to the sea. It also collects rainwater (as opposed to using tap water) and heats itself with biofuel.

EVA-Lanxmeer by Joachim Eble Architektur and Copijn Utrecht

This eco-village in Culemborg is non-polluting and car-free, comprising of homes, offices, shops, a school, and an urban farm. The neighbourhood is set near a water-collection area which can be used for the farms dotted around the district. Their societal system requires cooperation and initiative within the community since they are a self-sustaining district.

Urban life does not have to oppose the environment. Architects and scientists are constantly finding solutions for a perfectly sustainable urban model. The rest is up to us to live more mindfully to ensure the preservation of our irreplaceable ecosystem.

Hygge is an integral part of Scandinavian culture that doesn’t have a direct translation in English. Loosely translated from Danish as “cosiness,” hygge is a cultural concept that doesn’t only describe the atmosphere of a place. It is also a state of mind when you feel comfortable, warm, and content, especially when you’re with a group of close friends or family members. In addition to company, the setting of a place is also a contributor to hygge, and you will notice that most (if not all) homes in Scandinavia are designed to feel hygge.

While the concept evolved from a need to survive the cold, dark Nordic winters, I don’t consider it to be exclusive to temperate climates. There are ways to feel comfortable and “warm” despite the hot and muggy weather in the tropics. Some elements can still be used in tropical climates while others should be omitted altogether (like fireplaces).

Instead of candles, use warm lighting

Warm lighting helps to create a cosier and warmer atmosphere as opposed to the dry and dead fluorescent lights. Dim the lights slightly to create a soft, candlelight-like effect without the use of actual fires.

Prioritize good ventilation

Whereas Scandinavians use fireplaces to warm themselves up during cold nights, tropical weather calls for ways to stay cool. Open some windows to let natural air in and use electric fans to increase circulation.

Take advantage of indoor plants

Indoor plants help to clean toxins and indoor air pollutants inside homes, especially those situated in urbanised areas. Having plants inside the home also keeps the environment more alive and connected to nature.

Use furniture sourced from natural materials

I love minimalism, but I sometimes find metallic, cement, and glass furniture too sterile looking and cold, especially when overused. Wood, bamboo, and rattan are stylish and versatile, and can make interiors look homey while being minimalist and sleek at the same time.

Learn the principle of lagom

Lagom is a Swedish word that can be translated as “just the right amount.” It’s difficult to feel comfortable when there is an excess of things in your home since that can lead to clutter, and extreme minimalism could make the home look empty and impersonal. Strike a balance to clear anything unnecessary at your home while at the same time still retaining a part of you.

Avoid monotonous schemes

While hygge doesn’t require your rooms to look yellow and orange, choosing a good colour scheme is not something everybody can be successful at. Consult with experts and choose whatever you’re drawn to naturally. After all, comfort is subjective and different for everybody. Check out the Color Trend brochures for ideas and inspiration.

Invite some good people over, socialize, and disconnect from the world from the time being – or for introverts, sit on a comfortable couch, read a good book, and turn off your wifi. Hygge is to feel present and appreciate all the little things in life, and this is something most people have forgotten to do due to the rapid pace of our ever-connected lives. Hygge is so intrinsic to Scandinavian culture that most people don’t even think about. It’s no wonder then that Scandinavians continue to be some of the happiest people in the world.

SaveSave

Copenhagen is the capital of New Nordic cuisine, known for its use of fresh, local, seasonal ingredients. Everyday ingredients like radishes, peas, and apples are prepared in unexpected ways and incorporated together with seafood and meat to create dishes that are both healthy and unbelievably flavorful. The meticulous presentation also assures that the dishes are as good as they look, and each dish looks somewhat like a piece of abstract art.

Feast your eyes on the these color palettes found in the following dishes.

Monochromatic

The colour green is almost omnipresent in New Nordic cuisine due to their regular use of vegetables (more so during the summer). The two dishes that fall under this category are the green strawberry tart, raw strawberries with a biscuit-like crust, and the buttermilk & chervil, a sorbet-like dish with chervil sprinkled above.

Green strawberry tart. The appetizer from the Relæ menu.
Buttermilk & chervil. Sweet, tangy, and creamy.

Vegetables and fruits are so fresh in Scandinavia that sometimes, a single ingredient (or a few) could be flavorful enough for a single course. The two dishes here are the oyster, turnip & horseradish appetizer and the fava & fennel soup.

Oyster, turnip & horseradish. The turnips were astonishingly sweet unlike those I’ve tried before.
Fava & fennel soup. The dish was carried by the taste of the fava alone, no extra seasoning necessary.

The monochromatic color scheme may have given the dishes a laid-back look, but it also made me curious to try the dishes. The flavors were far from bland, and they made me appreciate the authenticity of the ingredients.

Contrasting Colors

New Nordic cuisine is very well balanced, and a large proportion of vegetables are used evenly with the accompanying meat or seafood. The first picture is the Havervadgård lamb & summer greens, with the produce straight from the farm; the second one is the glazed pork belly; and the last one is salmon and avocado smørrebrød.

Havervadgård lamb & summer greens, the main dish of the tasting menu.
Glazed pork belly, a bestselling dish.
Salmon and avocado smørrebrød. Many know smørrebrød as the “Danish sandwich” since it’s difficult to pronounce for non-speakers.

The complementary color scheme adds a lot to the presentation and entices you to just dig in!

Combination of Individual Colors

These dishes really caught my eye due to their rich hues of purple, green, black and/or white. The colors of the different ingredients popped when put together. The flavors of the two dishes were perfectly nuanced, just like their color combinations.

Sorbet of wild blackcurrants. Hazelnut milk and blackcurrants make a good dessert combination.
Blæksprutte (squid), a squid dish with various vegetables and its ink on the side. 

New Nordic is unlike any other cuisine in the world, both visually and taste-wise.  The food in Copenhagen certainly is a feast for the eyes, and it may serve as inspiration for artists, designers, and chefs alike.

When it comes to furniture and industrial design, Denmark is at the top of my list. Innovation, practicality, minimalism, and sustainability are some qualities that characterize Danish design. There is a museum in Copenhagen called the Designmuseum Danmark (literally translates to English as “Design Museum Denmark”) that showcases the best of Danish craftsmanship, mostly spanning from the last century until now.

Danish Design Now, highlighting pieces created on the 21st Century.

The museum is well curated and features furniture, clothing, and graphic design among others. Only a few pieces of the museum are interactive, such as the chairs in the lobby which you are allowed to sit on.

Clothes by various Danish designers

Bicycles, strollers, and skateboards

The Danes know how to create things that are both practical and stylish at the same time. Danish designers know how to incorporate their personal design aesthetics with the comfort and usability of the product. Despite being avant-garde, Danish design also leans towards minimalism. Reinventing the basic form is prioritized instead of adding unnecessary embellishments.

Reinventing the basic form
Hans Wegner’s “Shell Chair”

Denmark is one of the most eco-friendly countries in the world, so it’s no surprise that Danish design also puts importance on sustainability. Most products are made from renewable or recycled materials, such as HAY’s “Nobody Chair” which is lined with felt created from recycled plastic.

I love the museum because of the retrospective curation that showcased some of the most iconic pieces that helped define contemporary Danish design. I recognized a lot of famous pieces, but I didn’t even realize that they were originally created by a Danish designer!

The Panton Chair and the Flowerpot Lamp by Verner Panton
A small room dedicated to Arne Jacobsen.

Design is one Denmark’s most important contributions to the global art scene, so it’s only natural that they would open a museum dedicated to this craft.

 

The Danish Chair, a hall featuring 110 chairs designed by Danish designers.
Haute couture by Erik Mortensen for the Balmain fashion house in the 80’s.

SaveSave

Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, opened in 1960 and considered to be one of Arne Jacobsen’s most iconic projects, is a metallic, rectangular tower seemingly out of place, jutting out among the low-lying buildings of Copenhagen.

This building is designed by Arne Jacobsen, one of the most prominent Danish designers from the 20th Century, known mostly for his distinctive chair designs.

Image of Arne Jacobsen (c) Wikipedia

Although the hotel has changed throughout the past decades, it has still retained its modernist, retro aesthetic to this day. The hotel’s façade, in addition to the furniture of the hotel, were designed by Jacobsen.

Egg and Swan Chairs
The Spiral Staircase

The famous Egg chairs and Swan chairs can be found in the lobby, and the spiral staircase on the ground floor has been preserved since the 60s.

The only part of the hotel that has been unchanged and left in its original design is room 606, the hotel’s most popular room.

Radisson Blu Room 606
By Pietervandenabeele (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The second floor of the hotel is open to non-guests, and there you can see more of Jacobsen’s furniture displayed outside the restaurant and function rooms.

The hotel is often regarded as being the first design hotel in the world. Everything from the hotel’s bathrooms to the cutlery used to be designed by Jacobsen himself. Although the hotel is no longer the same since the 1960s, it’s still considered to be an important relic of Denmark’s design history.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

HAY is one of Denmark’s most reputable furniture brands, known for creating contemporary, sophisticated furniture at relatively affordable prices. Unlike most “fast” brands that have standard or trendy designs, HAY partners up with designers to create original pieces that are timeless and versatile.

Because I’m a big fan of HAY, I was intrigued to go to the HAY House after reading about their stylish showroom in Copenhagen. Conveniently situated in Indre By, the “Inner City”, the store is located in the second and third floors of a building in Østergade.

Living Room on the 2nd Floor

What appealed to me about the HAY House is its setup. The main space was set to look like an apartment building, with a staircase in the “living room” to bring guests up to the third floor. It was also very interactive since visitors are allowed to use the furniture and hold them, giving them the feel of actually living in the “apartment” and owning the furniture.

The second floor was set like a realistic living room, with couches, small tables, a rug, and a television on one end; while a long dining table with individual seats and a lamp was situated across the other end of the room.

Living room on the 2nd floor furniture with dark shades of blue

In the second floor, there were two “living rooms” which catered to two different tastes. One consisted of furniture mostly in light neutral shades of white and grey, while the other one was a subtle contrast containing furniture with dark shades of blue.

The third floor contained three more “living rooms.” Two of them had touches of subdued colours – the first has a plum seat and a red pillow; the second had an orange couch and a green lamp; while the third was a darker version of the first living room on the second floor with dark grey furniture dominating the space.

 

Living Room on the 3rd Floor with a plum seat and a red pillow.
Living Room on the 3rd Floor with an orange couch and a green lamp.
Darker version of the first living room on the second floor

The third floor also had an area that looked like an indoor veranda with green, metallic tables and chairs, as well as cacti and indoor plants to make the space seem more realistic.

There were also small corners used to mimic an office and two dining areas. The dining areas consisted of small, round tables, to exemplify the use of minimal spaces for those living in small apartments.

Veranda
Office
Small dining corners
Bedroom

There was only one “bedroom” in the showroom and it was a small one, consisting of one bed, a seat, and a lamp. Interestingly, they used a small chair as a substitute for the conventional bedside table.

Despite the furniture being displayed all over the place, the showroom never looked cluttered, in fact it added character to the space. It was neither maximal nor minimal, something Swedes would call lagom (in balance); and it was cozy and inviting instead of being sterile and too formal, which could be described in Danish and Norwegian as hygge.

The showroom is a classic example of the “Scandinavian aesthetic,” and it’s an interesting place to go to if you want some inspiration on how to style your home.