A Design Geek’s Guide to Copenhagen
Denmark is known for its genius designers, including Arne Jacobsen, Finn Juhl, and Jacob Jensen. Much of their work and influence is on display in the capital, Copenhagen. Great design touches everything in the city from the futuristic hotels to the pilgrimage-worthy restaurants and the New Nordic food they turn out. Walk the city and take in the great architecture or pack or hit the shops and take home super cool Scandi souvenirs from a new breed of design talent.
Øster Farimagsgade 10, 2100 København, Denmark
A visit to Denmark must include trying the country’s famous, impossible-to-pronounce open-faced sandwich, smørrebrød (I’m fairly certain that only native Danish speakers can pronounce it properly -"SMUHR-bruth”). Smørrebrød translates to “buttered bread,” and a traditional smørrebrød lunch usually includes three or four small sandwiches ranging from potatoes and radish to egg salad. The once working-class lunch gets a chefy makeover at Aamanns where the smørrebrød is served on homemade rye bread. The restaurant design is charming, with big stencils of radishes and cows on the walls. Order the smørrebrød trio for lunch, and ask to have it paired with a biodynamic wine.
2300 Copenhagen, Denmark
Design geeks must take the train from Copenhagen‘s city center to Orestad. The neighborhood is like a futuristic city with its innovative architecture, much of which looks like it’s straight out of the Jetsons. Bjarke Ingels is arguably one of the world’s most influential young architects and urban developers. His No. 8 building (above) was voted Best Residential Building 2011 at the World Architecture Festival and is a glimpse at the future of sustainable city living. Walk the grounds and be sure to check out the green roof.
Jægersborggade 27, 2200 København, Denmark
It’s easy to spend half a day exploring Copenhagen‘s street Jægersborggade. The block is lined with some of the city’s best shops and restaurants including Coffee Collective, Manfreds, Meyer’s Bakery, and my favorite ceramics studio, Keramiker. Ceramicist Inge Vincents can often be seen through the window carefully shaping her delicate white vases, cups, and bowls. Her pieces are so paper-thin that they take on an ethereal, translucent quality. While Inge’s pieces may look fragile, they are definitely still functional. In fact, chef Christian Puglisi uses her pieces at his famous restaurant Relae, located just up the street. I didn’t dare take a cup home in my suitcase, but lucky for me Inge ships to the United States.
Center Blvd. 5, 2300 København, Denmark
Architecture and physics nerds must stop by the Bella Sky Comwell Hotel in Copenhagen‘s Ørestad neighborhood. The largest hotel in Scandinavia, its dizzying towers lean at a dramatic 15 degrees in each direction (11 degrees more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa). The triangular blue and white patterned exterior, was designed to minimize solar heat gain and maximize energy efficiency. Even if you don’t book a room here, visit the Sky Bar on the 23rd floor for piano music, cocktails, and great views or walk across the bridge that connects the two towers (it feels like the bridge sways in the wind).
Sankt Annæ Pl. 36, 1250 København, Denmark
Copenhagen has a staggering array of museums, concerts halls, and opera houses. The one captured above (while getting rained on during a boat ride in the harbor on our way to see the Little Mermaid statue), is of the Royal Danish Playhouse. Opened in 2008, the playhouse was designed to complement the nearby Copenhagen Opera House, as well as the original 1874 playhouse venue located on Kongens Nytorv. The bluish-green glass-enclosed area affords visitors panoramic views of the harbor, and also has a restaurant and cafe if you want to accompany your view with food or drink. Or considering the weather I was in, it’s a nice pace to simply protect yourself from the elements.
Kompagnistræde 8, 1208 København, Denmark
Designers Malene Helbak and Mette Scherning sell the cutest, daintiest Danish ceramics and jewelry at their combined store and studio Helbak/Scherning. Not really a shop for dudes. Or bulls.
Niels Hemmingsens Gade 3, 1153 København, Denmark
Browse contemporary and classic Danish design at Stilleben Shop in central Copenhagen. Objects include the Angel—a sculptural stool by architect Gry Holmskov (pictured)—and the reissued wooden birds originally made by the late industrial designer Kristian Vedel in 1959. This appeared in the July/August 2011 issue.