Friday, 8 July 2011

The Dansk Design Centre

On a rainy day recently, of which we have had quite a few (incidentally, I note that the Design Centre has also had to temporarily close for a few days after the flooding), I paid a visit to the Dansk Design Centre almost by accident if I'm honest, because it's one of the few attractions open on a Monday in Copenhagen. On HC Andersens Boulevard, it sits behind Tivoli and is also in close proximity to the Glyptotek (the Design Centre is not huge, so you might be grateful of something else nearby!), so it's very easy to find. Upon arrival, I must have spent quite a lengthy part of my visit in the shop. Here you will the most beautiful art and design books possible, gorgeous designer household goods, and other curiosities such as strange miniature versions of designer chairs (that I am not sure I really understand the point of, unless they are meant for well-heeled Barbies!), and a range of travel items that you didn't know existed but absolutely need to have, such as interlocking cutlery and fabulously shaped bento boxes.

It consists of everchanging exhibition areas, the ground floor is currently home to two exhibitions, Challenge Society, and Challenge Innovation. One exhibition explores how design innovation is helping change ideas in the Public welfare system, and the other explores how design can help contribute answers to some of the World's problems. There were a few interesting ideas here on how design can help change things for the better, especially in a medical environment, but a few of the message boards expressed such obvious messages that I couldn't help but imagine a class of bored design students brainstorming ideas and thinking, "yep, that'll do, let's go to the pub"...Maybe that's quite cyncial of me, perhaps it's a good idea to spell things out to some people?...

More thought provoking stuff was to be found upstairs in Challenge Waste, an exhibition on how design can solve many of today's waste challenges, and what we can do collectively as a society, and individually. As a country that produces vast amounts of waste compared to other EU countries (as also clearly stated on the exhibition website), it's good to see someone here taking note of this. There were some interesting ideas here, such as furniture made out of recycled bottles, but I felt the entire thing could have have been expanded upon much more. I found the final part of the exhibition, encouraging people not to chuck waste from their cars entirely depressing, and the fact that they need to explain this to people means that it obviously still happens... Are we still in the seventies here or something?

Last but not least I paid a visit to the Design Centre's long-term exhibition Denmark by Design, which follows Danish Design from 1945 onwards. Of course Arne Jacobsen's beautiful Egg chair takes pride of place (padlocked of course, although I would love to see someone trying to smuggle that out unnoticed!), alongside other Danish design icons such as Lego and Bodum, and Normann of Copenhagen. This is the stuff I had expected to see, and wasn't disappointed by.

If you are interested in design, then it's definitely worth a visit and you should gain something from it. If not, then it has a great shop, with a nice cafe serving good cake.

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