What food is to humans, good design is to the Danes: a necessity to live. And many will go to great lengths to invest in timeless pieces that’ll last them a lifetime. Of course, you can buy many of these brands abroad too, but nothing really beats buying Danish design in the Danish capital, where you can take your pick of anything from historic, well-established brands to up-and-coming, independent designers.
You’ll find that Danish design is so much more than ‘hygge’ blankets and white on beige on more white, it’s excellent craftsmanship, appreciation and understanding of natural and materials, and the occasional pop of colour (who’d have thought?). So, if you haven’t already planned a trip to Copenhagen, do it now because the beautiful shops are waiting for you…
Illum’s Bolighus@sallydontdally @pinkparfait0530
Dating back to 1925, Illum’s Bolighus is a Copenhagen institution, where young and old come to shop the créme de la créme of Danish design. It’s been in the same Amagertorv location since 1961, in a building designed by Kay Kørbing (who also designed furniture). Boasting a beautiful range of practical and decorative items, you can pretty much find anything you’re looking for here – whether it’s for the bathroom, kitchen, living room, bedroom. So, if you’re short on time, this is the perfect spot for you. But, everyone else should visit it too.
If you’re looking for fish-shaped vases, funky posters in bold colours, or hand-poured candles with mesmerising scents, you should head to Dora. A quirky, eclectic lifestyle universe filled with heaps of beautiful things, it’s a brave mix of vintage finds and items from trend-setting, contemporary Danish brands. Owned and run by Frida and Sara, a creative mother-daughter duo, we’re sure you’ll feel a wave of inspiration as soon as you step through the front door. Located on Værnedamsvej, it’s the perfect spot to pick up something that feels a little bit different – and there are also plenty of places close by where you can grab a delicious post-shopping bite.
Stilleben no. 22@stilleben_dk
Ditte and Jelena met while they were both studying at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. Sharing a passion for unique objects and craftsmanship, they opened the first Stilleben store in 2002. Today, they have two physical shops in Copenhagen and an online shop. A creative haven, Stilleben isn’t your typical design shop. Instead of ‘only’ stocking Danish design, both Ditte and Jelena travel all over the world to source eclectic objects, from Californian textiles to Japanese teapots, and Swedish linen to French pottery. And some of their own designs, too.
Your Copenhagen shopping experience won’t feel complete until you’ve seen (or bought) a fair share of Danish design icons. At KLASSIK’s flagship store in Bredgade, you can do just that. Open since 1991, KLASSIK specialise in restoring and selling original pieces by Danish designers such as Arne Jacobsen, Børge Mogensen, Hans J. Wegner, Poul Kjærholm, Kaare Klint, and Verner Panton. Their team is educated to the highest standard, and will be able to tell you everything about the detail, craftsmanship, and artistry behind every single piece of Danish design from the 1920s until today. Beautifully curated and handpicked, KLASSIK is always worth a browse, even when you’re not intending to buy something on the spot.
Royal Copenhagen@royalcopenhagen @britt.benson
Now, we can’t promise anything, but it might make you feel a little more regal knowing that you’re eating off the same porcelain as the Danish queen. Founded in 1775 and located on Amagertorv since 1911, Royal Copenhagen has always had a close relationship with the Danish royal family. But it’s also beloved by the Danish people. Most Danish families will have something blue-and-white in their home, whether it’s something from the classic Blue Fluted series or the contemporary Elements collection.
We can’t physically leave Notre Dame without having bought something, even if it is just one of their iconic clothes pegs. Lucky for us, most of their items are on the smaller side (think tableware, vases, stylish notebooks, jewellery and the like), so we always manage to make everything fit into our suitcases. Run by a lively father-daughter duo, this shop opened in 1978 and was the first of its kind in Copenhagen (and Denmark for that matter). A must visit if you enjoy contemporary Danish design that’s on the more affordable spectrum, Notre Dame is also known for its friendly, welcoming atmosphere and service.
When you’ve finished exploring nearby Kødbyen, we recommend you head over to DANSK to spend some more money. Located on Istedgade (Vesterbro’s main artery and one of its creative epicentres), this shop is a treat for the soul and eyes. A manifestation of two sisters’ creative vision, the shelves line the walls with products from bigger Danish brands and independent names, tableware to organic soaps, furniture to stationery. We also recommend checking out their selection of eye-catching coffee table books, all neatly arranged and picture-perfectly displayed. DANSK is a must if you enjoy Danish design and minimalism at its best.
House of Finn Juhl
A concept store entirely dedicated to the works of Danish modern furniture designer Finn Juhl. Need we say more? A collaboration between House of Finn Juhl and Galleri Feldt, it acts as both a showroom and store. See and shop some of his most iconic designs including the 45, Chieftain, and Pelican chairs to the Baker sofa. As it’s located on Nordre Toldbod, it’s en route to another Danish icon, The Little Mermaid, so there are really no excuses to not stop by.
Studio Arhøj @studioarhoj
Since 2013, Studio Arhøj’s studio and shop have been located in an old envelope factory in Islands Brygge, but the brand was actually founded in Japan back when Anders Arhøj was a student. He’s very clearly inspired by shapes, animation, and a saturated palette, which makes all of his handmade items a fun mix of Danish elegance and Japanese liveliness. A fun, whimsical, and playful brand, it’s worth a visit if you’re looking for something special for yourself – or a cool present for someone special.
Paustian has two stores in Copenhagen, both of which are absolutely exceptional. With its palazzo-like architecture, Paustian on Strøget feels grand and extravagant. The premises used to be a bank and it dates back to 1868 – but now’s not the time to start thinking about saving your money. In contrast, Paustian in Nordhavn is channelling something that feels more contemporary. Set against the backdrop of a Jørn Utzon building (he was also the brains behind the Sydney Opera House), it’s one-of-a-kind. Both are worth visiting, especially if you’re looking for an extraordinary selection of brands, international to Danish, classic to contemporary designers – including Paustian’s own brand, too.
Georg Jensen Silver@georgjensen @virginiewuandersen
Located next to Illum’s Bolighus and Royal Copenhagen, Georg Jensen is in good company. If you love silverware, this should be your first stop on your Danish design tour. Georg Jensen first started his silversmith career in nearby Bredgade in 1904 – more than a hundred years later, his brand is synonymous with Danish silver. In the Copenhagen flagship store, you can get your hands on anything from jewellery to dinnerware that you can gift your loved ones (which is common in Denmark for birthdays and Christmas). You can also get the iconic Daisy collection here, which was designed and presented to celebrate Queen Margrethe II’s birth in 1940.