Most design aficionados love of the work of such Danish design greats as Hans Wegner, Arne Jacobsen and Finn Juhl. So it was surprising to learn at a recent symposium celebrating Danish design that contemporary designers in Denmark feel that the legacy of those famed designers is somewhat of an albatross around their necks.
How do they honor their extraordinary heritage yet produce something relevant and innovative for the future? Danish Design Review New York, a symposium held in mid-November at Parsons The New School for Design, attempted to answer that question while at the same time introducing the “rising stars” in Danish design to audiences in the US. Each of the “rising stars” was either a winner or nominee for the Danish Design Award in 2012.
Keynote speaker, MoMA Senior Curator Paola Antonelli suggested that for design to be relevant today it must have a positive impact on the world by improving the lives of mankind. She added that design shouldn’t just be about another pretty chair. And while CEO of the Danish Design Center, Nille Juul-Sorensen, debated Antonelli on that point, at least half of the “rising stars” presented products that would improve lives such as special wrap for premature babies and a mechanism to improve the administration of medications at hospital.
It took young designer, Johannes Grove, at the very end of the symposium, to successfully make that point that indeed there is room for another pretty chair, because beauty always enhances lives. Thank God. I was more than ready to see something beautiful at that stage of the symposium and happily I was not disappointed.
When Grove called the lamps that he designed a result of “Jazz Design,” analogizing that like the world of music, the world of design would be a sorry place without lovely objects, he drew a collective smile from the audience. Grove’s lamps have a streamlined and efficient design. His Cone 180 lamp can turn 180 degrees so you can direct light exactly where you need it. His Cross Lamp moves up and down allowing one to choose to use it either as a floor lamp or table lamp.
With the dam blocking a presentation of frank loveliness broken, the multi-talented Soren Rose went on to show his work in interior design, architecture and furniture. He honors his Danish legacy by using traditional Danish craftsmanship in all his work. Look for these new additions by Rose to his Park Avenue Collection to be introduced by De La Espada in January:
Designer Amanda Betz presented her gorgeous light, Shayk, manufactured by Artecnica. During a break, she told me that the light was inspired by the intricate and honeycombed patterns of the dome ceiling of a mosque in Iran. Betz claimed that the experience of light is essential to well-being, noting that it gets dark in Denmark by 3:00 o’clock this time of year. Certainly, the shadows and patterns the lamp casts out are just as beautiful as the object itself. Shayk is shipped flat packed at an affordable price.
The final designer to present his work at the symposium was the winner of the 2012 Danish Design Award, Troels Grum-Schwensen. His winning design is for a table that was inspired by a tightrope walker who balances by means of a long pole. Like the tightrope walker, his table relies on the strength of gravity for balance.
Called “Grip”, his elegant table employs a center beam that increases in stability with added weight thereby allowing long expanses of surface with very few table legs. The Grip system is manufactured by Randers Radius and is available at several price points.