ID Connections

IDC Mission to Denmark makes great impressions

Published by Julia Salerno, February 28, 2011.

The 15 IDC members who attended the Interior Design Mission to Denmark, January 30 to February 4, learned through the various tours and exhibits, led by the Royal Danish Consulate General, the key objectives to the Danish approach to design.

Each member was charged with a bit of "homework" given by Sue Gravelle, IDC's Director, Professional Development, who also attended the Mission, to come up with a word or phrase that captures what made the greatest impression on them. In the several responses we received, the common thread is that design is an intrinsic part of Danish life and it's as though they are created with design DNA. Here's what a few of the IDC members observed on their trip to Denmark:

"Design is in our DNA. We heard this phrase numerous times , from several different speakers. I had never thought of design being part of one's DNA , or part of their collective essential make-up, but I believe this is true of the Danes. From their approach to architecture, to their appreciation of great furniture design , to their uncompromising quality in product manufacturing, to their outlook on education, to their fabulous fashion sense,it is obvious that design is very much a part of the Danish culture. It is not something that is "added on ", it is something that is integral from the inception of an idea. A very different, and refreshing approach to design, in comparison to the North American way, which is often driven by, Budget, schedule, and value engineering. " -Sue Anne Wearmouth, IDA

"Design saturates Danish culture and life. As a design observer, it became exhausting to try and keep up with the deeply rooted and sophisticated ethos of design in the country. It made no difference if you were in a design museum or a factory canteen, the use of materials, precise detailing, simple, yet elegant form, and the fearless use of colour were always there in abundance. Denmark is saturated in design." -Caroline Robbie, ARIDO.

"For the Danish, ‘Design is embedded in our DNA.' I believe it was Kvadrat CEO, Anders Byriel, that uttered this phrase, but this message resounded in each encounter we had with the people we met representing the best in Danish design. With a legacy of classic architecture, furniture and lighting from the likes of Arne Jacobsen, Hans Wegner, and Poul Henningsen, the Danish people understand the intrinsic connection between the value of design linked to a democratic process in crafting a solution to a problem. From this perspective, the Danish government supports post secondary education for all children thereby creating a new generation of knowledge workers, raises the bar for national architecture through a competitive design process which illustrate design excellence to the world, and supports the creation of vibrant cities and active living through the urban landscape by encouraging people to move through their cities on foot or by cycling. Our tour illustrated how the Danish are leveraging design to add value to the products they create, to the quality of their manufacturing processes and to the lives of their citizens. " -Kathy Johnston, IDA

"We were all aware heading into the trip, the overall level of design that comes from or is synonymous with Denmark. As we experienced in the early parts of the week, it was apparent that this design sense is woven into the Danish DNA. Every little house or apartment seemed to have an iconic light fixture hanging in the window as if some right of passage, basic housewares stores carried items that were way above North American design expectations. We visited the LyshøjNord School and saw the collaborative sense in how the children are educated. We saw the lone light fixture clad in red among a sea of white ones to illustrate to the children that not everything needs to be the same. Then we saw the "Design Week" projects around the school. Upon inquiry, we learned that each year the student take part in Design Week to better understand how to work as a group through creative problem solving, producing unique pieces for all to see and enjoy. The DNA part makes perfect sense now. " -Laura Jones, ARIDO

"The phrase nurturing connections stuck with me when Barnabas Wetton of the Kolding Design School mentioned it in his lecture introduction, expanding on the definition of Sustainability. To the Danes, it is about nurturing connections between people and the world.
For me, this design tour was about nurturing connections between people and imagination, culture, history, quality products, innovation, inspiring spaces, urban landscapes, fabulous cuisine...And beyond the many Danish discoveries were connections made with kindred designers from across our country - in a wonderful way the world becomes larger and at the same time, more intimate. " -Julie Lang, ARIDO

"My greatest impression from our time in Denmark was the ‘Competitiveness' of their manufacturers. They rely on high quality and ever evolving streamlined processes to deliver products at competitive prices in time-frames acceptable to the North American market. Their competitiveness also arises out of being good value for the money as they produce simple, beautiful designs that can last for years. Several companies mentioned selling their products in China and being competitive against their manufacturers. They can make higher quality products in Denmark with 10% of the manpower that China might use for the same price." -Deborah Rutherford, ARIDO


"The Danes are a kind, enthusiastic, energetic, chic people who take great pride in creating quality products with the utmost style and then price them competitively for a global market." -Katherine Stone, ARIDO

"Experiencing the new Nordic Cuisine Movement was a daily delight of our trip. Every meal was out of this world; we couldn't wait to see what the next meal would bring us. The recent Manifesto of this movement, originally penned by leading Scandinavian gastronomists and later supported by it's government called on it's nation's chefs to address the rising epidemic of contemporary lifestyle induced health disorders, similarto what we are seeing in Canada.By refocusing on the use of natural, organic and indigenous ingredients the food movement encourages the use of produce that's "characteristics are particularly excellent in our climates, landscapes and waters" (Manifesto, The New Nordic Cuisine Movement). Bringing the focus back to using traditional Nordic ingredients presented in new, creative manners was clearly evident as we dined at beautifully laid candlelit tables with sparkling rows of course-assigned wine glasses, crisp linens and attentive wait staff.

We enjoyed such courses as raw fish, fresh vegetables, ox, venison, duck, cheeses, breads, fruit and desserts to die for. We all came home five pounds heavier but it was well worth it.Thank you Denmark for spoiling us with the toils of your food and design efforts.We can see why your country was just named as home of the number one restaurant in the world. -Jacquie Jacobi, IDA

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