Danish delights

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Who knew that a dustpan and brush could look this cool? (Image courtesy of Normann Copenhagen)

A few days spent in Copenhagen last week reminded me of all the things I miss most about Europe. Pedestrian-friendly streets; squares brimming with ramshackle cafes; parks full of children; museums dedicated to design; and clear sunny days that are all the more valuable because they are so rare.

But as I darted into homeware store after homeware store, I realised what I miss most - meandering through city streets and stumbling across unusual, independent design stores brimming with kooky, one-of-a-kind products. There's that sense of anticipation as you walk through the door; the joy of discovering brands that you've never heard of before; and the bewilderment of trying to work out how you'll get all your new purchases to fit into your suitcase once you're back at the hotel.

 

Copenhagen is full of such shops. Which is probably not surprising. We are, after all, talking about the capital of a country that produced the Egg chair - not to mention that other work of design genius, Lego. 

I came across a number of fab new brands during my sojourn in the Danish capital. Among these was Anne Black (www.anneblack.dk), a Copenhagen-based ceramicist that creates wonderfully understated products out of porcelain. Simple forms are combined with simple graphics in a collection that includes vases, bowls, cups and jewellery. I managed to resist the urge to buy Anne's complete works, but did come away with two of her cutesy ceramic rings, one with the word 'love' running across it in an unembellished black font - and I haven't taken them off since. 

  

Normann Copenhagen (www.normann-copenhagen.com ) is another of my new favourites. Founders Jan Andersen and Paul Madsen have a startlingly unique approach to design, injecting common items like the can opener and the dustpan with an almost unfathomable coolness. There are washing up bowls made out of rubber, vases made out of silicon and hooks made out of stone. There are round knives, stemless glasses and salt and pepper shakers made out of cork. It's Scandinavian design at its very quirkiest. 

Of course, there are countless other Danish brands that I could mention. Muuto, Wauw, Mojoo, Nuance... the list goes on. 

In the end I showed remarkable restraint - in spite of Emirates' generous 40kg baggage allowance. Apart from the rings, I came back with four Contrast mugs from Royal Copenhagen (www.royalcopenhagen.com). The company has been producing premier porcelain products since 1775, so it knows its stuff. There were ten different colours to choose from - and it took me far longer to settle on my four than I'd care to admit.

Published: August 11, 2011 04:00 AM

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