Pared-back and functional: super-cool Danish design for the home

Championing affordable statement pieces and functional living, Danish designers are transforming homes. 

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Right up there with the Italians in their cultural understanding of design as an essential part of life are the Danish.

“Danes are great at designing affordable statement pieces that transform the home from the mundane into something special,” says British-based Danish retailer Toni Kay, owner of Skandivis online boutique. “A lot of thought is given to everyday objects.”

She cites graphic pattern rugs and shower curtains by Ferm Living as “super-cool statement pieces”. Launched in 2005 by graphic artist Trine Andersen, Ferm Living is one of Denmark’s leading lifestyle brands.

It is in good company. Broste Copenhagen, House Doctor, Bloomingville and Hübsch are all key Danish exports that promise hip interiors on a comfortable budget.

When Copenhagen-based HAY design launched its furniture and accessories in 2002, it sought to fill a middle market that the Italians and British struggle to address. Prices for high-end furniture made in Italy and the UK continue to rise, while the middle ground has been largely forgotten post-recession, says London designer Sebastian Wrong, who launched his Wrong for HAY collection four years ago. His Wrong London lighting brand, also with HAY, just launched. Wrong was drawn to the democratic design values of HAY owners Rolf and Mette Hay.

“Essentially HAY is very successful because it is very cost-conscious,” he says. “It removes the middlemen and  manages to offer more for a lot less.”

Sam Hood, founder of online store Amara, which stocks House Doctor, HAY, Menu, Nomess Copenhagen and By Lassen, says it is their simple approach to design that allows such Danish wares to be made affordably. “Scandinavian design centres around pared-back, functional living using natural materials.”

Soren Ravn Christensen, chief creative developer at growing lighting brand Vita copenhagen, agrees: “Danish design is straightforward in construction.”

He says keeping prices realistic is at the heart of what his company is about. “We try to make sure we always make our designs as compact as possible yet easy to assemble, enabling us to lower costs.” Prices for VITA lamps start from as little as £44. “We are a tiny nation,” adds Christensen. “A no-bulls**t nation.”

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