Danish design - then and now

Danish design is more popular than ever before! Both at home and abroad, Danish design is dominating the markets for furniture, accessories, fashion and lamps. But what is the secret behind this success? Are the old classics from the Golden Age of the 50s to thank, or should we be worshipping the modern brands that have reimagined Danish design with a touch of innovation and modernisation? Let’s journey back in time and have a closer look at the history of Danish design.

After the Second World War, we finally had the space to pick up design, development and manufacturing. The war’s iron grip on the world began to loosen and new concepts awakened as creativity came out of hiding.

Hans Wegner, Arne Jacobsen and Poul Henningsen are some of the biggest names to come out of that era of Danish design – and all their designs continue to reign supreme to this day. Back then, the idea was to produce solid furniture that was accessible to the general population and that wouldn’t ever go out of style. Classics like the Ant, the Y-Chair, and the Egg were popular then, but the designers back then probably hadn’t imagined that they would retain their popularity this long.

Poul Henningsen designed his first popular PH lamp back in 1926, but it wasn’t until the PH5 lamp was released, in 1958, that the PH lamp became a must-have for people all over the country. The lamp became hugely successful thanks to the revolutionary shape of its shades, as they created an amazing light. Danish design became synonymous with modernism and functionality, which was incredibly popular in the post-war era, where people were trying to figure out how to enjoy simplicity again. Nowadays the PH lamps are incredibly popular and can be found in homes all over the country.

Likewise, the handmade wooden figures made by Kaj Bojesen are found in homes across Denmark and they have even started breaking through to the international market. Kaj Bojesen designed the Monkey as a hook for children’s rooms and nowadays the collection offers a range of animals and other figures.

Blue and white don’t necessarily scream ‘Denmark’ as a whole, but for one particular brand, they do! Royal Copenhagen is insanely popular, thanks to its lovely design and high quality. This royal porcelain is sold en masse in shops all over the world.

But back to the lamps! There have been plenty of amazing designers throughout Danish design history who have added at least one phenomenal lamp to their CVs. Read more about them here.

Le Klint is a Danish company known for its lovely timeless lamps. They still produce shades by hand and the incredibly talented and nimble-fingered ‘Pleating Ladies’ fold the shades with the greatest precision.

The architect Peder Vilhelm Jensen-Klint was the man behind the first cross-pleated lampshade. He had designed a stone petroleum lamp but was missing a screen. In order to complete the look, he cross-pleated the lampshade that ultimately wasn’t manufactured until 40 years later.

The man behind the classic grasp collar was his son, Tage Klint. The collar is an important detail that still makes up part of the classic design. On top of that, Tage has designed a range of lamps in the Le Klint collection. A decade later, his son Jan Klint took over. He was a visionary businessman and it was he who established the fund that has been running the company since 1972. He did this to provide security for his employees and the fund continues to support previous employees, designers and architects.

The third son, Kaare Klint, was a talented and respected architect, craftsman and designer has influenced the Danish furnishing industry in more ways than one. Le Klint benefited greatly from his talent and in 1944, he designed the Fruit Lamp (Le Klint 101) which is one of the most popular Le Klint lamps to this day.

Browse our selection of Le Klint here.

Verner Panton was called this, that and the next thing by the general population when he emerged in the 60s, including ‘crazy’ and ‘consumed by a crazy colour palette’. At a time when designers like Arne Jacobsen and Hans Wegner reigned supreme with their natural materials and simple designs, Verner Panton’s focus on manmade materials and fast production methods was unheard of. His goal to add more colour to the world was hugely successful.

Verner Panton designed rooms, lamps and furniture, all using the same crazy colour schemes and shapes. The Panton Chair is one of his most famous creations, thanks to its title as the first piece of moulded furniture. It has been praised all over the world.

His lamps are a chapter all of their own! Verner Panton has designed a series of lamps, including Globe, Fun, Panthella, Flowerpot, Moon, Spiral and Wire.

Browse our selection of Verner Panton lamps here.

Arne Jacobsen was born in 1902 and became an architect in 1924. Once his degree was in the bag, he started a new course of education at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1927. Arne Jacobsen’s thought process was innovative and defined by his architectural background and it didn’t take long for him to become one of the rising starts of the academy.

In the 1930s, Arne Jacobsen really put his name on the map and a new wave of design – known as International Functionalism – was born, spearheaded by Jacobsen himself. As the years went by, Arne Jacobsen designed a heap of houses in Denmark and abroad, each and every one of them characterised by their simple, functionalistic, and modern expressions. Iconic examples of Arne Jacobsen’s work include Rødovre City Hall, the Danish National Bank and Århus City Hall.

During the 50s, Arne Jacobsen started working on furniture designs and lamps, and it is this period in his history as a designer that produced the AJ, Royal, Eklipta and Bellevue lamps.

You can browse Arne Jacobsen’s lamps here.

One of the new designers is Tom Rossau. The autodidact started his career in the basement of his parents’ house in Fårevejle. He started out with LEGO and other materials he happened to have on hand, but it didn’t take long for him to find his style and get working on leather. Tom designed and sewed his products himself, which eventually led to the opening of a shop in Copenhagen in 1997.

Since 2004, Tom has mainly worked with natural wood veneers, which has resulted in some remarkably lovely lamps! At first, these lamps were only available at his old shop on Istedgade in Copenhagen, but in 2006, TR4, TR5, TR6, and TR7 were released to a wider audience at the Copenhagen Furniture Expo, where TR7 received the “Audience Favourite” award.

Browse Tom Rossau’s lamps here.

The Normann Copenhagen design firm was established by Jan Andersen and Poul Madsen in 1999. The company is based on Østerbro in Copenhagen and manufactures furniture, textiles, lamps and accessories for homes around the world. The company started out small, only launching a few products at a time, but after the financial crisis the two owners realised that they needed a bigger product collection in order to ensure that Normann Copenhagen was visible.

The collection spans everything from €2.50 can openers to €6000 couches – and there’s something for everyone. Normann has also manufactured plenty of lamps, including Amp, Bell, Norm 69 and Ikano, truly consolidating their position in the design industry.

Find Normann Copenhagen here.

To this day, Danish design manages to surprise and stay ahead of the curve, whether in terms of furniture, lamps or architecture. The “Made in Denmark” brand is something to be proud of – and the industry continues to boom! Old classics and new design talents alike have done an amazing job and the future looks bright. Danish design always has been and always will be a safe bet.