Could The Danish Secret To Happiness Have Something To Do With Their Chairs? by Tash South

Denmark’s position as one of the happiest countries in the world has created a lot of media interest, but why are the Danes so happy? They have awful weather and are subject to some of the highest tax rates in the world! Here in the UK. we are slightly obsessed with Danish happiness and so many books have been published on the subject. So what's the secret?

Having recently visited Copenhagen to experience the Danish way (and attempt to Hygge) first-hand. Their happiness is undoubtedly down to their way of life – but I have a personal theory that their excellent design culture, particularly their focus on chairs, has a great deal to do with it.
Danish happiness, well-being and Hygge centres around conversation, socialising, dining and relaxing, and the item all of these activities have in common is a chair. To really enjoy a meal or conversation, the space needs to have a good atmosphere but also you have to be comfortable and be tempted to linger – and a good chair can do that.

Nyhavn Harbour, Copenhagen

Danish design is of course famous for its modern clean lines, but what makes it so popular is its strong focus on the user, and where else would this be most important but for a chair – the thingin which we eat, relax and work.

The design brief for a chair is simple: 'create a structure that can support a body 42cm above the ground'. But great design is very much focused the human experience - how an item functions and feels is just as, if not more important that what it looks like. The small details really matter. Is it the right height? Does it have armrests? Are the armrests the right height? Is it padded? What is the angle of the back? There are many things to get right!

There is a saying that the chair is the closest item of furniture to a human being – it reflects the body it has to hold with arms, legs, a seat and a back. The Danes obviously take this into consideration during the design process, some chair designs take years to perfect, but if it works, then it is timeless, as proven by the many mid-century examples still being manufactured today.

Just some of he vast collection of chairs at the Design Museum, Copenhagen.

In Copenhagen,  you'll notice statement chairs are everywhere, from hotels and restaurants to the museums - some designed mid century, and others designed just last year - it seems to be part of Danish identity.

I was very lucky to stay at The Alexandra - the perfect hotel for a design lover! The 61 rooms and the lobby are all furnished, as if you were staying with a design loving Dane in the 50s and 60s! The Alexandra is in the Latin Quarter, just around the corner from Tivoli Gardens and each room has been decorated to have it's own mid-century identity.

The chairs are everywhere - even in miniature! This cute setup is in the lobby at the Hotel Alexandra.

The lobby at Hotel Alexandra with it's very impressive collection of Danish mid-century furniture and memorabilia.

Hotel Alexandra even has its own postcard selection dedicated to Danish chair design!

The Design Museum

The Design Museum is filled to the brim with excellent examples, it even has a permanent exhibition called 'The Danish Chair', which I visited when I was there, and it shows an impressive collection of 110 Danish chairs.

The Danish Chair Exhibition, the Design Museum Copenhagen.


The Great Danes

Many famous Danish designers are exactly so because of their chair designs. If you know Arne Jacobsen's work, you probably know your Egg from your Swan, but did you know there is also a Peacock, Shell, Clam and a Spanish?

Arne Jacobsen

An architect, Arne Jacobsen was one of the most prolific Scandinavian modernist designers of his time. His plywood Ant chair sold in millions and his many iconic designs include the Egg and Swan chairs.

The Swan Chair

Hans Wegner

Wegner has designed so many iconic pieces but he was best known for his chairs. He designed more than 500 chairs over the course of his career, including the Peacock, the Shell, the Flag Halyard and the iconic Wishbone chair.

Hans Wegner's Shell Chair

Hans Wegner's Flag Halyard Chair


Verner Panton

Paton's approach was fluid and futuristic and he used plastics in bright vibrant colors, resulting in the famous Panton Chair

The Panton Chair


Philip Arctander

Arctander was an architect, not a furniture designer, yet the Clam chair he did design is one of the most sought-after items today, commanding tens of thousands at auctions!

Philip Arctander's Clam Chair


Børge Mogensen

Morgensen's best known work is the Spanish chair – classic influences that inspired his modern designs.

The Spanish Chair


Jens Risom

The Risom chair was one of the first to be manufactured by Knoll and is still manufactured today!

The Risom Chair


The Danes really do prove over and over again how important great design is. It seems to be something most Danes enjoy and appreciate, and when design is really good, it doesn't have to be showy, it just has to work to make our everyday lives that little bit easier.


Image Credits:
Images 9 and 10: Pernille Klemp for The Design Museum
Images 12, 13, 14 & 16: My Domaine
Image 15: @Richard Ribe
All others:




My Edit of Maison&Objet Paris 2016 by Tash South

At the beginning of September I was invited to attend the Maison&Objet trade show in Paris, one of my favourite cities. Maison&Objet is a major lifestyle event for professionals working in all fields of interiors where exhibitors offer a huge range of decoration, design, furniture, accessories, textiles, fragrances, children’s interiors, tableware and more. It’s an amazing platform, and a great place to source unique products and up-and-coming trends.

It was my first visit to Maison&Objet, and it is HUGE. I was totally blown away by the size of the show, eight halls in total. I even saw some people on scooters – motorised scooters!

Panoramic of Parc des Expositions, Paris where Maison&Objet is held.

The focus of the show this year was ‘House of Games’, Maison&Objet choose a theme each year to inspire and surprise guests. The House of Games stand was designed in a playful, off-beat, yet refined aesthetic. The lighting was kept low, but the pieces were playful, bright and cheerful.

Inside The House of Games. Image: M&O website.

Inside The House of Games. Image: M&O website.

This year, the M&O PARIS designer of the year, September 2016 was Ilse Crawford, her work is a testament to her ability to reconcile the experience of luxury with wellbeing. As designer of the year, Ilse was in charge of designing the Designers’ Studio, a work and networking space at M&O.

The Designers’ Studio by Iilse Crawford, a work and networking space at M&O.

M&O was an awesome experience and I had the opportunity to see some excellent examples of design from across Europe, and the rest of the world, so I’ve decided to put together this post to share my edit with you. Considering the size of the event, and the sheer volume of incredible design, editing my top finds was not an easy task! I’ve already written about the incredible Zaha Hadid Collection, but here are just some of my other favourites.


One. Team Lab

First up was the Forest of Resonating Lamps - One Stroke, an installation by
A huge mirrored room housed hundreds of Murano glass lamps hanging from the ceiling. Sensors determined the position of viewers within the room, and when standing close to one of the lamps for a period of time, it would change colour and become the starting point for the other lamps around it to start changing colour too, a magical experience. I spent way too long wandering around in this room when there was so much else to see!

Forest of Resonating Lamps

Forest of Resonating Lamps - changing colours

Two. ibride

The French company, ibride, immediately grabbed my attention, the pieces were interesting and unique - the brand bases it’s collection on surrealism. I loved how playful, quirky and unusual the pieces were. This year ibride released its’ first series of outdoor furniture – inspired by ethereal lines and aquatic curves.

Some pieces from the ibride range

ibride outdoor chair.

Three. Corita Rose

Next up was Corita Rose a textile design company with the most stunning and vivid designs printed onto velvet, linen and silk. Based in Dorset, the company was founded by artist and designer Caroline Ritchie and her husband Joshua. Caroline’s inspiration comes from different cultures and eras, from tribal and folk art, to heraldry and medieval designs. I was lucky to speak with Caroline at the show, and she told me about how, when she couldn’t find anything like she now produces in the shops, she just went out and made it herself – an amazingly talented lady!

Vibrant Corita Rose cushions.

Corita Rose textile design.

4. Nook London

Nook London is based in East London and was founded by Hattie Hollins in 2011. They offer vintage factory style lighting - Nostalgia Lights and Nostalgia Lights Reserve. Nook has recently expanded from lighting into more generalised homeware. The brand stands strong as a formidable pioneer of the vintage industrial style that I love to use when styling urban or loft living spaces.

Nook London - great turquoise colour on the flex!

Nook London: a unique take on a bedside lamp.

Five. Frederik Roijé

Clean, classy and innovative, Frederik Roijé’s collection of furniture, lighting and accessories ticked many of my boxes, especially as the inspiration for some of the pieces are city skylines.
I adored the simplicity of their pieces, and their attention to detail. The Storylines shelf and the Seatshell chair were particular favourites.

Frederik Roijé’s Storylines Bookshelf.

Frederik Roijé’s Seatshell chair.

Six. Woud

Based in Denmark, Woud work with a mix of young upcoming talents, as well as experienced designers to produce a stunning collection of products. Their range of beautiful pieces adds a touch of innovation to the simplicity anchored in their Nordic design heritage.

Stone Pendant, Split Dining Table and Pause Dining Chair by Woud.

Input Shelf by Woud.

Seven. Drugeot Labo

Drugeot Labo (France) create stunningly unique pieces from solid oak with 100% French origin. Their pieces are expertly made with the greatest care, and I could tell form speaking to them at the show, that they are so proud of the heritage and craftsmanship of their pieces. I loved their simple, but very clever designs.

Drugeot Labo Compass Desk Leans against the wall, and is ideal for small city spaces.

The Créneau side table can be used as a side table or as a bedside table.

Eight. Rina Menardi

Rina Menardi’s tactile ceramics stood out to me because of their organic shapes and beautiful colours. Based in Italy, Rina's work is always characterised by simple lines and inspired by nature.

Rina Menardi Ceramics

Nine. Les Gambettes

French company Les Gambettes introduced a fun collection of 50’s inspired retro designed furniture with bright colours and eye-catching prints: chairs, tables, desk and design accessories mixing metal, wood and of course, the most popular surface from the 50’s, Formica.

Les Gambettes' fun take on 50s Retro. Love the geometric wallpaper in this image.

Les Gambettes' Chaise Susie

Les Gambettes' Chaise Susie

Ten. Avenida Home

Avenida Home was founded by Isabel Saiz in Bath, England - they create highly individual pieces and are dedicated to supporting traditional craftsmanship throughout Europe. The collection is eclectic and surprising and I fell in love with their Jungle Collection wallpaper, which is based on a painting by the fabulous artist, Nathalie Lété.

The Avenida Home Jungle range.

Eleven. Elements Optimal

Element Optimal’s philosophy is creating great designs in line with the strong traditions of Danish craftsmanship, whilst promoting talented individuals from around the world. Each creation is made with outmost integrity and are original, simple, functional and timeless. Their adorable range for children was on display at the show.

Elements Optimal Elephant chair and table and balloon mirror.

Elements Optimal Bambi chair

Twelve. Nobodinoz

Barcelona based kid's brand, Nobodinoz offers a fun range of furniture, décor, toys and teepees. The colour palette sets the pace and allows for a wide range of playful combinations for a smart, modern kids’ spaces.

Nobodinoz bed in horizon thalassa blue.

Nobodinoz Teepees in Arizona black scales, Arizona zig zag and Arizona black honey sparks

M&O takes place in Paris in January and September and I really hope to return in 2017, but until then I look forward to using my finds in upcoming projects - including my own house when it's built!


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