Travel Guides for Un-tourists


Mid-Century Meets Modernism in Copenhagen's Peerless Interior Design Boutiques

by CB Cowling

posted on January 16, 2019

From the moment you touch down at Copenhagen’s airport, with its luminous lighting and inlaid wooden floors, it’s hard to miss the distinctly Danish attitude towards interiors. Here the utilitarian and useful is elevated to art; form follows function, but there’s no reason not to find joy and beauty in that form. And boy, do they understand the power of good lighting. Forget the stereotypes of icy cool minimalism or cozy Nordic hygge — contemporary Danish design contains multitudes.

In the city’s coolest shops and galleries, sleek and modernist rub shoulders with mid-century craftsmanship and riotous traditional patterns. With an embarrassment of riches on offer, we’ve narrowed down our favorite stops for a design-lover’s visit to Copenhagen. Get ready for some serious interiors envy — and no, you won’t be able to fit that vintage velvet sofa in your plane’s overhead compartment.

Photo Courtesy: KIV

If you’re looking for a thing of beauty that you can (carefully) tuck into your carry-on luggage, head to Jægersborgadde, a small street in the the trendy Nørrerbro district that’s a favorite of the city’s tastemakers and trendsetters. Host to over 40 art galleries, concept shops, and designer’s showrooms (as well as the city’s famous Coffee Collective) it’s also home to ceramist Inge Vincent’s small boutique, where you can peruse her drapey, paper-thin porcelain creations. The epitome of casual Danish cool, her hand-thrown, one-of-a-kind ceramics feel alive and fluid, with delicate vases settling into ripples and folds, and whisper-thin cups and mugs softly slouching at their edges.

Photo Courtesy: HAY

This stalwart of Danish interior design was founded in 2002, with a goal of bringing quality crafted furniture and homewares to a wider audience. Today HAY is a household name synonymous with the aesthetic of Scandinavian chic. The iconic flagship store is set over two upper floors in a grand Østergarde apartment building, with the light-filled second story serving as a living showroom. Rugs, textiles, furniture, and lighting are arranged to provide inspiration and create a glorious tableau of aspirational contemporary living, while the floor above offers plenty of more packable finds, with small homewares, gifts, and prints on display.

Photo Courtesy: areastore

Consider leaving a little extra room in your luggage if you plan to visit this popular boutique on central Kongesgade. Stocked with a riot of colorful art, decor, gadgets, and gifts, AREASTORE offers a quirky and lighthearted take on contemporary Danish design. The stock is thoughtfully handpicked, with classics like Secto statement lighting and Meyer-Lavigne ceramics alongside modernist stationary, delicate terrariums, carved wooden toys, and the world’s chicest toothbrushes. For those dreaming of Danish aesthetics at home, its comprehensive website offers a chance to browse and order stock from afar — though you’ll miss meeting Bruno, the store’s dashing resident poodle.

Photo Courtesy: loppeguld

Ten years ago, painter and stylist Mette Helena Rasmussen was looking for a few rolls of vintage wallpaper for a project; today her finds fill this pretty basement shop tucked below the cobbled streets and alleys of Indre By. A pattern lover’s paradise, Retro Villa offers the largest selection of vintage wallpaper and textiles in Scandinavia, with floor-to-ceiling shelves of carefully-sourced rolls stacked alongside a selection of complimentary homewares and furnishings. There’s nothing minimalist or sleek about this side of Danish design; it’s a cozy and colorful counterpoint that blends beautifully with the more understated backdrop of traditional Nordic interiors.

Photo Courtesy: theapartmentdk

You’ll find this unmissable hybrid retail space/gallery hidden amongst the picturesque canals and alleys of Christianshavn. Interior designer Tina Seidenfaden Busck’s vision for The Apartment was to create “a shoppable home” that would showcase talent and inspire artists and customers alike. The two-bedroom apartment sits on the second floor of a lovingly-restored 18th-century building, and its achingly-lovely interiors showcase an ever-changing array of effortlessly-blended mid-century and contemporary offerings. Slouchy velvet armchairs, Murano chandeliers, hand-stamped wallpapers, and bold Josef Frank textiles look lived-in and natural against a backdrop of stripped wood floors and broad picture windows. Should you find yourself fantasizing about moving in and never leaving, you’re in luck: Busck offers nightly stays in another sublimely styled flat upstairs.

Photo Courtesy: SB

Danish for “still life,” Stilleben celebrates new talent alongside household names in its impeccably-curated selection of prints, textiles, and ceramics. The elegant shop fronts onto the pedestrian shopping mecca of Strøget, and makes a perfect first stop on your tour of the city’s best boutiques. Owners Ditte Reckweg and Jelena Schou Nordentoft are graduates of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and their craft shows in the handpicked selection of homewares and interior decor, with minimalist organic bedding by Tekla alongside Georg Jensen’s sinuous silverware and Berit Morgensen Lopez’s colorful cubist prints.

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