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With a long-standing history of design that boasts big names like Hans Wegner and Arne Jacobsen alongside prestigious institutions such as the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art, Denmark’s design heritage is world-renowned. A new generation of talented fashion, interior and product designers are upholding that tradition proudly. Here are ten of the best contemporary designers from Denmark.
Winner of the 2012 H&M Design Award in Denmark, Mark Kenly Domino Tan demonstrated a flair for fashion as a child, and by the ripe age of 12 he had designed his first dress for the former royal Princess Alexandra of Denmark. He honed his craft studying at Denmark’s Kolding School of Design and received his masters at London’s Royal College of Art in 2012. Shortly after, he set up his own label. Working from a studio in central Copenhagen, Kenly Domino Tan’s designs are typified by a style that combines vintage and contemporary elements creating sophisticated and structured silhouettes.
Nikoline Liv Andersen, born in Copenhagen in 1979, is a talented fashion designer who graduated from the Danish Design School in 2006 where she majored in clothing design. Her experimental products blur the lines between design and art and in recent years have become more akin to three-dimensional sculptural works of fashion-based art. It’s not surprising, then, that many of her projects have been featured in art exhibitions; Slowly Seeping through my Hands and The Dance with the Deaf and Dumb Eye, for example, were exhibited at the Horsens Museum of Modern Art in 2011. Experimental haute couture exemplified, Andersen’s designs are a play between bold expression, beauty and theatrics.
A graduate of the prestigious Central Saint Martin’s College in London, fashion designer Henrik Vibskov has been designing clothes since the early 2000s. An accomplished artist, Vibskov’s creations, which are predominantly for men, are a mesmerizing and varied collection symbolic of the New Nordic movement in fashion. Since 2003, Vibskov has had the honor of being the sole Scandinavian designer on the Paris Men’s Fashion Week official show schedule and in 2011 he was awarded the coveted Söderberg Prize – a highly regarded award given to notable Nordic designers. His designs have also appeared in exhibitions at institutions including the Palais de Tokyo in Paris and MoMA PS1 in New York City.
Anne Sofie Madsen, who graduated from Copenhagen’s renowned Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 2009, got a fine start in the world of fashion going on to work under the acclaimed designers John Galliano and Alexander McQueen before debuting her own couture collection at the 2010 London Fashion Week. After showing her Spring Summer 2012 collection at Copenhagen Fashion Week in 2011, Madsen was cited as ‘One to Watch’ by the Vauxhall Fashion Scout. Her designs – which incorporate contrasting material elements such as light, ethereal mesh with leather – employ handcraft techniques and result in a combination of strong yet delicate silhouettes.
Holmbäck Nordentoft are a design duo made up of Sebastian Holmbäck and Ulrik Nordentoft who originally met each other while studying at the Danish Design School. After graduating they each went on to have successful solo careers until a joint project reunited them in 2008, whereafter they decided to set up their own design studio. Firm believers in sustainable design, the duo create products made to age beautifully and work predominantly across the disciplines of furniture, product and interior design though they have recently made a foray into jewellery design too. Notable designs include a stylish tea and coffee thermos for Danish design company Stelton which won a 2014 Red Dot Award in the product design category.
Born to a Danish father and Swedish mother, furniture designer Christina Liljenberg Halstrøm’s designs are firmly rooted in a Nordic sensibility typifying minimalism and functionality and employing various natural materials such as wood, wool and leather. Halstrøm studied art and design in Sweden and later in Copenhagen where she settled, and has since worked with several respected brands including Denmark’s Skagerak and Design-Nation in London. She recently designed a collection of furniture for Skagerak named the Georg series; her stool design went on to win a 2014 Red Dot Design Award. Other recent designs include the versatile Teil Table made in collaboration with textile designer Margrethe Odgaard.
Troels Grum-Schwensen is the creative mastermind behind Grum Design – the furniture design studio he established in 1989, three years after graduating from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts where he studied space and furniture design. His design philosophy comes from a respect for the environment and sustainable design, a firm belief in designs that demonstrate variety and innovation, and a recognition that furniture is part of architecture and should serve spaces as well as the humans that occupy them. A design that is particularly indicative of this ethos is the GRIP table – a flexible and elegant table design which is quick to assemble, easily stacked and can also be lengthened. GRIP went on to win the prestigious Danish Design Award in 2012.
Jens Martin Skibsted is an accomplished product designer who, in 1998, founded Biomega – the only high-end design bike manufacturer in the world. Biomega, which describes itself as a premium urban bicycle brand, designs regular and electric bikes alongside a number of associated cycling accessories. The company’s products combine both technology and aesthetics, receiving praise from publications including Wired and Monocle magazines, and have appeared in exhibitions at the Danish Design Museum Danmark and MoMA in New York. Skibsted is also a partner of the Copenhagen-based industrial design firm KiBiSi alongside fellow designers Lars Holme Larsen and Bjarke Ingels.
A Copenhagen-based product design company established in 2011 by a group of research and development specialists, Attention creates products heavily influenced by Denmark’s Nordic design heritage that provide smart solutions whilst maintaining an ethical and environmentally friendly outlook. Overseen by prominent designer Henrik Jeppesen, the company today is comprised of talented designers from across the globe and has been the recipient of many accolades including the Green Dot Environmental Excellence Award and the IF Product Design Award. Its recent design, the Vaavud Wind Metre for young start-up Vaavud, is the world’s first handheld device measuring wind speed and direction for iPhone and Android devices designed with sailors and wind or kite-surfers in mind.
Founded in 1996 by experienced designer Henrik Sørig Thomsen, Sørig Studio is an Aarhus-based industrial design lab that specialises in the fields of furniture and product design. Made up of a small but dedicated and passionate team of designers, Sørig Studio’s design philosophy is epitomized by a desire to create products and objects that stimulate people’s senses and has been recognized with awards, including two IF Product Design Awards and in 2014 exhibited its designs at both the prestigious Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan and the Danish Crafts Collection. Sørig Studio’s KarmDetail Chair is a simple and functional yet aesthetically pleasing example of its work.