Danish design may be all the rage, but most folks aren't clued in to the fact that there’s so much more to this Nordic country’s aesthetic culture than Hygge and comfortable clogs. Whether you’re seeking vintage furniture, ceramics, modernist paintings or sleek home goods, Copenhagen, the country’s vibrant capital, is where to find them. From the young, “hipster neighbourhood” of Vesterbro, to the diverse streets of Nørrebro, to the posh avenues of Frederiksberg, this city was created for wanderers and explorers - making it the perfect home for Edvard Eriksen’s famous bronzed little mermaid sculpture.
Copenhagen’s innovative architecture firms, like Bjarke Ingels Group and Henning Larsen Architects, have also been making waves, both at home and internationally, while the annual Danish Design Festival celebrates the nation’s rich history of craft through exciting exhibitions, experiences, talks, conferences and awards. Consistently ranked as one of the happiest cities in the world, design plays a strong role in dazzling the senses - from minimalist culinary delights at Noma to the bold public art on view at many of the capital’s stately museums.
So why not grab one of the city’s numerous vintage bicycles and get sight-seeing?
Located in the the Mall of Scandinavia (which is much chicer than it sounds) stock up on legendary Nordic brands such as Iittala and Royal Copenhagen, or contemporary classics by kartell, Muuto, Design House Stockholm, Flos, Lightyears, Ferm Living, Vitra Design, Lexington, Marimekko, skandinaviskt, Tromborg, Villeroy & Boch, and so much more.
Founded in 2003 by Rolf & Mette Hay and Troels Holch Povlsen, and located on two floors of a grand building in central Copenhagen, this cosy interior features pieces from Hay's namesake line of Danish-design pieces, with items from Paris-based Astier de Villatte, Sweden's Iris Hantverk, and Holland's Scholten & Baijings.
Right off the main shopping street of Stroeget, this small store specializes in ceramics, glassware and décor from both Danish and foreign artists.
Here, enjoy freshly pressed juice while perusing haute Danish goods.
More of a strolling spot than a “design destination” per se, start at one end and walk the full length of this magnificent street to check out retro furniture, antiques, and home decor shops.
1620 v, Vesterbrogade 137
In the Vesterbro design complex fashion, jewellery and furniture designers come together with ceramic artists, glass blowers, and artisans of all kinds to create must-have designs - all available for purchase.
Frederiksberg Allé 6, 1820 Frederiksberg C
Copenhagen’s answer to the MoMA design-shop, check out this fun and kitschy design store featuring local and global artists, from Kähler Design to Maison Martin Margiela.
Created by a design-loving couple, each item is chosen with love and sits on the beautiful Frederiksberg Allé.
Selling vintage interiors, the store’s owner, Lea, frequently searches Scandinavia’s flea markets to find the best in mid-century furniture, decor, and textiles.
Designed by Jorn Utzon, the mastermind behind Sydney’s iconic Opera House, Paustian is considered to Scandinavia's most impressive design store, and is housed within a former theater in the Osterbrogade district.
This prize-winning design flagship store was established in 1999 by Jan Andersen and Poul Madsen, and boasts an impressive range of timeless furniture, lighting installations, rare textiles and home accessories.
The shop's space, oddly enough, is also within a former cinema.
Tivoli, Vesterbrogade 3
This small shop in Tivoli Gardens sells goods designed and manufactured exclusively in Denmark. Founded by entrepreneurs Asger Daugbjerg and Brian Engblad, pick up chocolates from RO Chocolate, vintage posters from Kortkartellet, or accessories Mott Tailor Shop and Søren Skifter, among so much more.
Royal Copenhagen, the home of iconic porcelain products and purveyor to Her Majesty the Queen of Denmark since 1775, this is the holy grail of plate design.
The store’s highly recognizable blue and white ceramics are the pinnacle of Danish elegance, and are the closest thing you can buy to a piece of noble Scandinavian history.
Home of the legendary amusement park, this verdant spot was beloved by fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen as well as Walt Disney. Wander Tivoli’s storied gardens and vintage rides before settling down to a sumptuous dinner at one of the park’s multiple restaurants.
Located just a few minutes walk from City Hall, you’ll find everything from traditional Danish cuisine to French bistros to a new restaurant from Michelin-starred chef, Henrik Yde, who in 2017 opened Kiin Kiin Piin in the Chinese Tower. In the summer, Tivoli also offers superb classical music, including concerts with Copenhagen’s own symphony orchestra.
H. C. Andersens Blvd. 27
A sprawling five-story building in the heart of Copenhagen, this gallery, exhibition space, design store, and cafe is a shop-able Ovenlyssalen (or knowledge centre).
With up to 3-4 rotating exhibitions at one time, there’s something for everyone.
Considered one of the most recognizable sights in Copenhagen, this canal was hand-dug in the 1870’s and is framed by brightly colored colonial-era buildings; one of which was inhabited by the famous Danish writer H.C. Andersen for more than 20 years.
Dantes Plads 7
Let yourself be dazzled by this cafe and art space’s eclectic selection of French and Danish paintings and sculptures - built around the personal collection of Carl Jacobsen, son of the founder of the Carlsberg Breweries.
On an interesting note, the museum was previously the first public hospital in Denmark, where legendary philosopher Søren Kierkegaard was admitted and later memorialized.
Richard Mortensens Vej
Created by local design wunderkind Bjarke Ingels, Ørestad’s 8Tallet, or “Eight House”, is a prime example of modern Danish architecture and a must-see for design and architecture aficionados.
Also known as Statens Museum, or National Gallery, the museum’s impressive collection includes pieces from the art collection of the Danish royal family, which includes Rubens, Rembrandt, Picasso, Matisse and 19th-century Renaissance glass works.
Stop by for their annual Alt_Cph art fair, as well as a rotating selection of fascinating programming.
Ordrupgaard, Vilvordevej 110, Charlottenlund
Just outside the city, it’s well-worth a trip to visit the preserved home of the legendary Danish mid-century modern architect & furniture designer pioneer.
Built within a 17th-century baroque palace, Kunsthal Charlottenborg is considered the largest contemporary art space in Copenhagen.
Past projects have included experimental and performance art pieces, printed works, and cutting-edge installations.
One of the few global conferences on digital design, this yearly event brings together design practitioners from the best and most innovative companies in the world.
For you lovers of cool Scandi design there is only one place to stay when in beautiful, pioneering Copenhagen - a hotel of the same mantra, where bohemian elegance meets muted luxe and where a breathtaking rooftop conservatory is set to become the mingling place for cultural kids in the know, theatrical glam Sanders - a hotel where you can chillax in corners, or join centre stage.
If you liked this, then you'll absolutely love our other design guides on Paris, Zurich, Vienna, NYC, Barcelona, Rome and Stockholm, bursting with all the best on under-the-radar places to go and tip-top treats in design, style and fashion.
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