“Danish design is interesting when designers keep developing the tradition of working with the relationship between man and object.”
– Pil Bredahl
Curator of the Danish Collection
Flensted Mouritzen Credit: Martin Clausen
A country whose domination of modern design far exceeds its modest size, Denmark has brought us some of the most innovative use of form and greatly changed our understanding and value of functional objects. Today’s Danish designers do not disappoint, by confronting past revelations and breakthroughs with a novel application and undeniable relevance to our contemporary era. Through a presentation of works whose creators range from masters well-known mediums and techniques to completely new processes of the designers’ own invention. A textile artist using recycled and discarded materials to make a societal commentary, material innovators developing remarkable and never-before-seen surfaces through dust, plaster, granite gravel, and even fish glue; simply stated, there is no doubting Denmark’s continued legacy as a true design giant.
Adorno is proud to present the Danish Collection, curated by Pil Bredhal, to be exhibited this year at Crossovers: 2019 during London Design Fair. The collection is called A Danish Affair. ADA is a collection of some of the most sensitive Danish design right now. “I want to give you an insight, into the work by designers who insist on working politically, poetically and deeply personally with design and craft.”
Designers in the Danish collection showcase a unique mix of conceptualism and craft tradition, including Jonas Edvard, Mette Schelde, Stine Linnemann, Flensted Mouritzen, Stine Skytte, Stine Mikkelsen, Tina Austen, Gurli Elbækgaard and Lea Nordtrøm.
Stine Skytte. Credit: Martin Clausen
The Danish Collection
What are the main themes presented across the works in the collection?
I have named the collection A Danish Affair, and some of the synonyms, to the word affair, are words like amour, intimacy, involvement, matter, social function, occasion, and thing…In my opinion, Danish design is interesting when designers keep developing the tradition of working with the relationship between man and object. it may be in relation to function but it may also be in relation to nature and materials or in a more personal way. This might not be politically instructive, but perhaps more a suggestion of a way to perceive the world. I see each work as an idea of how we could also strive to live.
Lea Nordstrøm. Credit: Tommy Frost
Give us 3 words that define the current design scene in Denmark.
The design scene in Denmark, from where I have been curating A Danish Affair, is poetic, political and personal.
Stine Linnemann. Credit: Tommy Frost
What really differentiates Danish design today from previous generations, and what are today’s designers doing to set themselves apart from common understandings of Danish design?
I don’t think today´s designers want to set themselves apart from previous generations of designers or the common understanding of Danish design. I think they strive to be strong enough to stand on the shoulders of past generations and they want to stand out and stand tall. Designers today, like any other producing and consuming profession, must embrace global challenges and social fractions in a completely different way than before we became a global culture. Therefore, the new generations are far more aware of the imprint they make on the globe and us with their work. I feel this gives them and both strength and humility.
Gurli Elbækgaard. Credit: Tommy Frost
Why do you think Danish designers display such a high level of focus on sustainability in design, and such success in material innovation?
Firstly, a healthy planet is crucial to whether we can continue living here at all, so that focus is a high priority. And if we can succeed with material innovation, develop new sustainable materials and processes then a desire for consumption can perhaps be justified. Imagine a world where consumption was not a problem, but perhaps even was a positive part of the circular material cycle.
Mette Schelde. Courtesy of the artist.
Connections to World Design
What does this collection say about the state of contemporary design internationally?
I am full of optimism for design as a profession. I see a greater desire for more quality but I also think the designers would like to produce work that more people can afford to buy. The new collectors are not only wealthy people, but also young families who prioritize being surrounded by beautiful and sensual things, and I feel that the designers are eager to engage with this group of new collectors.
Jonas Edvard. Credit: Martin Clausen
What is exciting about having this collection displayed together with other top design scenes from around the world?
The exhibition gives us an insight into the enormous creativity and beauty, coarse energy and intense urge for aesthetic change that is characteristic for designers – I love it!
Stine Mikkelsen. Courtesy of the artist.
Tina Austen. Courtesy of the artist.
Curated by Pil Bredahl
Pil Bredahl earned a master’s degree in design theory in 2013 and wrote his dissertation on design and sustainability. Since then, Pil has worked in the experimental sector in the design industry as a curator, a writer and designer and she has served on several boards. Originally Pil was trained as product and furniture designer at the Danish School of Design, now the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. Pil was part of the Scandinavian, only female experimental design group “Body Holder”, which was founded in the late 1990s. She has worked as royalty designer for several of the largest Danish design brands but has also worked with design as a tool for integration and empowerment of vulnerable women. She co-founded the design group FairTradeDesigners.com, in 2007, which uses the design profession as a social leverage to explore and promote sustainable development processes often through crafts.
A Danish Affair. Credit: Martin Clausen
What attracted you to be involved in collectible design, and work with designers working at the intersection of art and design?
We do not need more physical objects, but we need beauty and quality in our physical world. I believe that our mental state is influenced by the aesthetics and quality of our surroundings. I think our brain changes depending on how we are affected by our surroundings and experiences. The more we live in artificial environments, the more important it is that we are aware of the quality of our physical surroundings. The energy that you can experience in the presence of good Design Art is an energy you bring to the next person you meet. Then this intersection between art and design suddenly becomes very important.
What is your current favourite piece of design you have encountered and why?
That’s not how it works for me. Design is situational and must make sense in its context. The “foam chair” by Gunnar Aagaard Andersen from 1969 must be recognized as the extreme experiment it was when it was created. Several of Victor Papanek‘s ideas have been groundbreaking in their time and the ancient Egyptians where first movers when it comes to timeless furniture design. If it comes from the heart and makes sense in its context, it is likely to become a favorite of mine. I have several current favorites within the new Adorno collection.
A Danish Affair. Credit Martin Clausen