Mir's Impressions of Denmark (Copenhagen and Kolding)

Armed with a full itinerary and a small suitcase I set off from Sheffield to Copenhagen on 3rd May.  I had carefully planned my train journey but had missed the fact that Sheffield United was playing at Crystal Palace that day.  Hence I found myself on the 8am train to London with a bunch of increasingly drunk football supporters and expected a riot when the train briefly broke down for 20 minutes at Wellingborough station.  On top of that, I was suffering from a nasty chronic cold.  With my sinuses blocked, the first flight to Copenhagen was so painful I thought my head and ears were going to explode.  Stone-deaf on arrival, it was all a pretty horrific start to, what turned out to be, a fantastic trip.


Copenhagen has the most vunderfol, vunderfol public toilets you will ever have the pleasure to spend 2 kroner in.  Even if you don’t need to pee, it is well worth a visit.


My other personal favourites were:

The visit to Danish Craft. Their mission is to bring craft/design products made by Danish makers to the attention of international markets. I was very impressed with their efforts to ensure crafts people and designers receive help to make a relationship with manufacturers and industry that then batch/mass produce their ‘hand/mind’ made products. A lot of marketing support is given to make sure the work then makes it onto the international craft/design fairs. 

Another one of my favourites was the visit to Statens Vaerksteder for Kunst hog Handvaerk (The National Workshops for Arts and Crafts) which was the most fabulous state funded residency studios and specialist workshops for artists, designers and makers I have ever seen.   It is based in a refurbished (gorgeous!) warehouse on the docks- in the centre of Copenhagen. This space is specifically for visual artists/ craftspeople/ industrial designers with a project in connection or with a relation to Denmark. They support around 160 projects per year so it is only for those artists who have a confirmed project to work on and have a reasonably proven track record. 

It offers temporary workspace and comes with very impressive workshop facilities, including technical support and, if needed, accommodation.  Everything is free! and artists from outside Denmark can apply - but only if they have a project in Denmark for which they have to produce work. Around 5% to 10% of the artists per annum are international artists and most artists are there between 1 week and 6 months.

I liked the people who ran Danske Kunsthandverkere.  They are a membership organisation for craftspeople in Denmark and support around 500. The organisation founded the Trapholt Biennale and publishes Kunstuff a quarterly magazine. They were very open about the complex issues around serving the needs of such a broad group of crafts practitioners, traditional and contemporary and the fact that it is difficult for the craftspeople to get funding.    I also liked the presentation given by Professor Michael Braungart on ‘sustainability’ and the ‘cradle to cradle’ design initiative.  My notes say: Sustainability is about ‘good’ design.  Aiming for zero emissions is a non-sense (even when you are dead you are still emitting carbon dioxide). The argument seems always to be around eco efficient versus eco effective. However, ‘efficient’ is rarely ‘sexy’ which design ought to be. ‘Cradle to Cradle’ design is about producing waste which can be absorbed easily by the environment – ie., the product, after its lifespan, becomes a biological nutrient – therefore there is no indigestible waste. The aim is to calm down and not aim for the unattainable: we don’t have to be perfect but we can be better – the aim is to re-make the way we make stuff.  braungart@epea.com. 

Check him out, he is a cool customer! Mir.