Danes are famous worldwide for their passion for design. Despite being a small country, Denmark is at the forefront of the design world and has produced some of the most important names in every creative field, from architecture to modern design.
It's hard to pick the best works of the bunch – in fact, we could write a list only with the amazing chair models that were born in Denmark – but we've tried to put together the most innovative and groundbreaking ideas from Danish visionaries in every field of design. Here they are, in no particular order.
1. Skovshoved Petrol Station
Also known as The Mushroom, Arne Jacobsen’s petrol station was built in 1936 as a prototype for Texaco but became eventually a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. Located in Charlottelund, north of Copenhagen, the petrol station is still doing its original job. Today, you can fill up your car while praising Jacobsen's design and shiny ceramic tiles.
2. PH Artichoke lamp
Poul Henningsen's everlasting contribution to the design world is in the field of illumination. Henningsen designed his first PH lamp in 1925, and made his most iconic model, the copper PH Artichoke, in 1958. Henningsen once quipped: ”It doesn't cost money to light a room correctly, but it does require culture." In addition to his lamps, Henningsen also designed the PH Grand Piano, which can be found in museums including the Metropolitan in New York, and Tivoli's Glasssalen.
3. Sydney Opera House
Perhaps Australia's most recognizable symbol, this worldwide touristic attraction was created by Danish architect Jørn Utzon. The design was chosen out of 233 proposals in 1957. The building, consisting of shell-shaped arches, is an architectural marvel but Utzon never actually finished the project. He left Australia in 1966 due to a conflict with a newly-elected government that stopped paying him.
4. Form 2 Headphones
Photo: Bang & Olufsen mediacenter
In 1983, Bang and Olufsen’s Canadian-born designer Steve McGugan created an everlasting headphone model. Form 2 has been on the market for 30 years and is still available for purchase. Since the release of the product in 1985, Form 2 was a huge success and in 1992 was included in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. “I find it surprising that these little headphones have continued to appeal to consumers through all these years, delivering good sound quality with a stylish and classic design; first for the Sony Walkman generation and now for the iPod generation,” McGugan said about his design. McGugan now runs his own design studio in Denmark.
5. Øresund Bridge
The bridge spans the almost eight kilometres between the Copenhagen area and Malmö in Sweden. Both Danish and Swedish authorities worked together on the project, with the Dane Georg KS Rotne as head architect. The architectonic masterpiece includes an artificial island, Peberholm, which accomplishes the function of crossover between the tunnel and the bridge and is also intended to be a flora and fauna ‘experiment’. The bridge is now world famous thanks not only to its design but the gritty Danish–Swedish police drama called simply 'The Bridge' (Broen in Danish, Bron in Swedish).
6. Stelton vacuum jug
The design is from 1977 and it is one of the best-selling works of Copenhagen-born Erik Magnussen. The vacuum jug, with the unique rocker stopper, became a emblematic work of simple and sleek Danish design. To this day, the Stelton is a 'must' in many Danes' homes.
7. The Round Chair
Photo: Katja Kejser & Kasper Holst Pedersen/PPMøbler
“A chair is to have no backside. It should be beautiful from all angles," said designer Hans Wegner, also known as the 'King of Chairs'. Creator of more than 500 chairs and more than 1,000 pieces of furniture, Wegner was a perfectionist designer. In fact, despite the 1949 Round Chair earning the distinction of being called simply 'The Chair', he remained on his quest to find the best definition of a seat. "Imagine if you could just design one good chair in your life", Wegner said in 1952, "but you simply cannot."
8. Cyckelslangen (The Bicycle Snake)
is the icing on the cake of Copenhagen's bicycle infrastructure and a crowning achievement for what is regarded as the best cycling city in the world
. The bridge was officially opened in 2014, and it provides an amazing ride through Copenhagen Harbour, linking Vesterbro and Islands Brygge. It takes two-wheeled commuting to a whole different level and helps make the Danish capital the envy of other cities.
The Vestergaard company's LifeStraw is a game-changer. Under the management of Danish CEO Mikkel Vestergaard, LifeStraw has helped to reduce diseases like cholera, Typhoid fever, Guinea worm and dysentery. Its apparent simplicity has improved the quality of life of countless people. The Life Straw can filter contaminated water into safe drinking water. Since its launch in 2005, it has received several awards and Forbes magazine called it “one of the ten things that will change the way we live”.
10. Egg chair
Another masterpiece from Arne Jacobsen, the Egg Chair is a treasured piece of furniture in Danish households. Jacobsen designed The Egg for the lobby of Royal Hotel, which he also designed. The Egg was created along with the also well-known The Swan as the result of Jacobsen’s idea of integrating architecture and design. The Egg has been included in numerous films, from The Beatles' movie 'Help!' to 'Men in Black'. If you are a design enthusiast and can afford the prohibitive price of the basic model, you can kick your feet up and relax on a true piece of Danish culture.