New golden age of Danish design sees Copenhagen rival Milan

Danish design is experiencing a “golden age” with Copenhagen becoming a manufacturing center comparable to Milan, according to Anders Byriel, CEO of Danish textile brand Kvadrat.

“We have big companies and it looks like the area around Milan,” he said, referring to the concentration of design-focused furniture and lighting manufacturers in northern Italy.

Copenhagen becomes the “third hub” after Milan and London

Byriel made the comments during the 3 Days of Design festival in Copenhagen last week, which saw dozens of design brands launching new products in showrooms and exhibition spaces across the city.

Business is booming, Byriel said, with local brands “growing across the board.”

“I think Copenhagen is about to become the third hub after Milan and London,” he added. “He has a lot of energy.

Above: Anders Byriel is the CEO of Kvadrat. Above: the brand launched a collection of textiles designed by Peter Saville during the 3 Days of Design

Byriel attributed the boom in part to the global interest in the Danish lifestyle, which is seen as both stylish and enduring.

This was fueled by a resurgence of interest in Danish design over the past century as well as the recent revival of interest in hygge, a Danish concept that strives for comfort and well-being.

“It really is a golden age

Several heritage brands have rebranded and revived classic products from their archives. “A lot of companies have been very smart, combining the future with their heritage,” said Byriel.

Meanwhile, a new generation of enterprising business leaders have seen dozens of new business launches. “There are new brands starting from every street neighborhood,” Byriel said. “I feel like this is really a golden age.”

Denmark’s strong sense of social and community responsibility also helps explain the boom, said Byriel, businesses helping each other.

“It’s very community-based,” he said, “There is a camaraderie. There is a lot of social bonding. The ecosystem keeps growing.”

Vipp Pencil Factory will be a place for dinner clubs
Vipp launched a supper club inside a converted pencil factory during the festival

Byriel pointed out that 3 Days of Design, a modest event now in its tenth year, is being conducted on non-profit principles for the good of the industry.

“Somehow I think the power of this event is actually that it’s very community-based,” he said. “It’s not commercial. It’s a non-profit organization. The organization is a community organization. You pay a small amount and you’re in it.”

Copenhagen’s balanced lifestyle ‘attracts talent’

Without a large trade fair as an anchor, the festival instead offers events scattered around the city, often working in concert with Copenhagen’s strong food culture.

This year’s event saw local brand Vipp launch a dinner club at a converted pencil factory while Frama hosted dinner parties each evening in his studio inside a converted pharmacy. He also organized a conference with Dezeen.

This community approach also makes Denmark a place for talented people to live and work, said Byriel, with half of Kvadrat’s staff now from overseas.

“It’s also something about well-being, society and of course the way of life,” he said. “It all comes together. It’s a more sustainable lifestyle and a balanced lifestyle. I think it attracts talent.”

Frama hosted a conference with Dezeen during 3 Days of Design

Danish architects have also shared the success, said Byriel, with Bjarke Ingels Group and Henning Larsen among companies that have grown beyond their Copenhagen roots to become international studios.

“It’s not just about a good lifestyle and creating a beautiful interior, but also that things are guided by values,” said Byriel. “You just have to be careful not to get too happy with yourself.”

Kvadrat, which is based in Ebeltoft in northern Denmark, was founded by Byriel’s father, Poul Byriel, in 1968.

The textile brand launched a new collection of textiles from British designer Peter Saville in its Copenhagen showroom during 3 Days of Design.