Three days of Design in Copenhagen

Guillem Ferran
Published in
17 min readJun 25, 2023

The 10th-anniversary festival presented 290 brands across 13 design districts during 3 inspiring days. In the same week, we can find 3daysofdesign, Copenhagen Architecture Festival, and Copenhagen photo festival. That days also celebrate Distortion celebrating the extraordinary atmosphere, music, and spaces.

The city claims creativity long routes, exhibitions, and spots.

But Copenhagen is full of architecture and design spots all year long. The birth of functionalism, and rationality with Arne Jacobsen is the origin of what is called the New Nordic Design.

The new Nordic Design Language

The Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Copenhagen, is located in the heart of the city, in the Vesterbro district, close to Tivoli and Copenhagen Central Station. Room number 606, is no longer available for booking, but guests can request a tour, is a national monument. Constructed in 1960, Original Swan, Egg, and Pot chairs designed by Jacobsen stand reupholstered throughout the building, complementing the historic ambiance.

SAS and Nyhavn

Copenhagen with NOMA won el Bulli as the Best Restaurant in the World and has been during 5 years in the position of the first, as a three-Michelin-star restaurant run by chef René Redzepi is experimenting and opening popups throughout the world. A team of Noma veterans is in charge of POPL Burger, reserving a table or in takeaway mode.

Noma and Popl

The center is full of awesome shops, The Hay house, as Rolf and Mette Hay explain when they founded HAY, they had the feeling that there was IKEA on one end of the spectrum and traditional high-end, but also expensive, design companies on the other. There was nothing in between, so with HAY they wanted to create a high-quality design brand, but more democratic and therefore more accessible at the same time. In short, good design for the widest possible audience; design for our own generation.

Muji in the 4th stage of ILLUM is a paradise for Japanese brand lovers, Muji is full of food, books, magazines, and stuff. MUJI, originally founded in Japan in 1980, offers a wide variety of good quality products including household goods, apparel, and food. Mujirushi Ryohin, MUJI in Japanese, translates as “no-brand quality goods.” MUJI is based on three core principles, which remain unchanged to this day: 1. Selection of materials
2. Streamlining of processes 3. Simplification of packaging. MUJI’s products, born from an extremely rational manufacturing process, are succinct, but they are not in the minimalist style. That is, they are like empty vessels. Simplicity and emptiness yield the ultimate universality, embracing the feelings and thoughts of all people.

Studio Arho is a Danish interior design & ceramics studio founded by Anders Arhoj, with a mission, to allow them to continue to create and have fun with color, form, and material. From metal pins to Pearl Sets with lots of cups, bowls, and decorative stuff.

We can find different good shops like Paustian, Georg Jensen, Illums Bolighus, Storm, Muuto, House of Finn Juhl or the first Flying Tiger.

Hay, Paustian and Studio Arhoj

The Sweden brands ARKET from H&M, was founded by Erling Persson in 1947, and the shop’s current CEO is Helena Helmersson. The Hennes & Mauritz group includes eight clearly defined brands — H&M, COS, Monki, Weekday, & Other Stories, Cheap Monday, H&M Home, and ARKET. H&M Home sells furniture since 2008 and in Copenhaguen they have their own street with all the shops next to each other.

Arket and H&M’s street

Space 10 is a must, located in the south of Vesterbo’s neighborhood, at the Meatpacking District, the industrial businesses, “Kødbyen” has changed into a new and creative cluster with galleries, nightlife, and restaurants. Fleisch, WarPigs or la Hija de Sanchez are spaces to taste and flavor the evenings. Close we can find the Absalon, a community center where locals and everyone else can meet and be together in new ways, breakfast or especially communal dining

Space 10, the Ikea think tank that thinks about how we will live in the future, take a look at their Bibliotheque, exhibitions, and reports. As a research and design lab, we can find a small shop and a cafe. Between fiction and conceptual design, the work is an inspirative hub for the Swedish manufacturer.

If you have time to take a pause and depends on the weather when you visit the city, don’t hesitate to go for a bath, the visit Copenhagen site and Svoemkbh have a map with several options

Baths and beaches map at the visit Copenhagen site, the Sandkaj bathing zone

The more close to the center is Kalvebod Bølge by JDSA and one of the first installations is Havnebadet Islands Brygge from BIG, if you talk to people from Copemnhaguen they go to Kvæsthusgraven, behind The Royal Danish Playhouse by Lundgaard & Tranberg and the Nyhavn. The north and the south have a lot of locations more open to the Baltic Sea, to more clean and clear water. The city is very interesting in architecture, Copenhagen is the World Capital of Architecture in 2023 after UNESCO decided. Therefore, the city host the World Congress number 28 of the International Union of Architects (UIA); an event that has existed since 1948.

The capital concentrates on different architectural firms like Bjarke Ingels Group: BIG, Cobe, Henning Larsen, C.F. Møller Architects, Lundgaard & Tranberg, 3XN Architects, Lendager Group, KHR Arkitekter

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, my rent cargo Christiana bike and Metropolis

Going to visit buildings is an experience to understand how the Danish live, I highly recommend renting some bikes and live the city as Danish people do, visiting the south and East in one day and the North and West another day. There are several options: Pedalatleten, Be Copenhagen and Kgs Have Cykler, the last one has Christiania cargo bike, an option for families, in my case I travel with my partner and baby and we take this option. If you live there, an option is to buy a cargo bike at Sustainabike, but be careful of burglars, these are the most stolen bikes, put them in a safe place during the night.

Nyboder and Nordhavnen

Though the North

To the tourist point The Little Mermaid statue, we can pass before to take breakfast at studio x kitchen, next to the King’s Garden, visit Etage Projects Gallery or smell and feel the Tableau vases and flowers and pass to the Frama Studio Store and see the Nyboder, historic row house district of former Naval barracks.

Etage Projects Gallery, Tableau and Frama
The Konditaget Lüders and the Silo

The Konditaget Lüders, “PARK’N’PLAY” is a hybrid structure between a parking house and a playground. It rethinks the monofunctional parking house and transforms what is often an infrastructural necessity into a public amenity. Located on the rooftop — 24 meters above ground — it provides a recreational area and a view of the horizon, often only for the privileged few.

The Silo, 17-storey former grain silo and the largest industrial building in the area has been transformed into “The Silo”, housing residential apartments and public functions. In order to bring The Silo’s industrial concrete facade up to current standards, the exterior of the existing silo has been recladded, while the interior has been preserved as raw and untouched as possible. An angular faceted exterior facade made of galvanized steel has been installed to serve as a climate shield. This has allowed the building’s characteristic slender tall shape to be maintained.

Kronløb Island and Cobe headquarters

Kronløb Island by Cobe, is an entirely new island. The island will serve as a stepping stone between two new neighborhoods in the future city district and will break the harbor basin up into a number of intimate canals. Kronløb Island will include the area’s biggest parking facility — a three-story underwater car park — as well as two new urban spaces in direct contact with the water, three new bridges, and a monolithic housing volume with unique and varied housing qualities, surrounding an intimate green heart. A unique new island in Denmark: A monolith carved from one stone.

There is the headquarters of Cobe with an in-studio café creates a cozy lobby vibe, where both Cobe’s guests and employees, neighbors can have a coffee, breakfast, or a quick lunch, read a magazine, have an informal meeting, buy a book or take a look at the latest architecture models straight from the studio. The models in the café are all smaller versions of Cobe’s buildings and projects, thus the café hosts the unique opportunity to come inside and see where the surrounding architecture is born, and then go for a walk in Nordhavnen and the rest of Copenhagen and experience the architecture in 1:1 scale.

Orientkaj, the station is designed to make a statement, offering a model for any future overground stations, Inspired by the existing industrial structures in Nordhavn, the station’s design derives from the massive crains lifting the containers from the ground. Designed as a glass, concrete and aluminum box, the station commandeers panoramic views over Orientkaj dock. On the same road, we will find the new headquarters of BIG, and the showrooms of Kvadrat and Vitra.

If we follow the north we will find the Svanemølle Beach, an urban beach promenade by White or Foreningen Charlottenlund Søbad Postboks 27, open baths, The Olivers Garage, and the Arne Jacobsen’s iconic estate Bellavista at Bellevue Beach. And the cultural sites, the Ordrupgaard and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

Ørestad is the place to spot new and rule-bending architecture in Copenhagen. The new and striking architecture stand in beautiful contrast to the vast nature out on these parts of Amager

Through the South

To the Orestad, we need to cross the Amager Common, a 223-hectare nature reserve on Amager in Copenhagen. It contains meadows, lakes, forests, and a range of wildlife such as Highland cattle. I will recommend going down the channel and we will see Islands Brygge, till the Gemini Residence by MVRDV, The Frøsilo is a radical waterfront conversion, As well as boasting excellent waterfront views and close proximity to the city, these former silos have a seemingly incomplete character; a bare structure. In these structural limitations lies the solution through intervention allowing the possibility of openings in the concrete rings, restricted and complicated with the desire to retain the quality of emptiness within. The common interiors are special.

We can make a short stop and cross the Bryggebroen and visit the Havneholmen, The apartments are expensive! But, unlike the Gemini Residence project on the opposite side of the water, they share a bit of prominence, by allowing public access through the beautiful inner courtyards to the wooden platforms towards the water. The living rooms with the stairs to the water are incredible. The Kaktus-Towers are rental small apartments available, 33 to 55 square meters (450–1200 euros). To arrive there we need to experience the Cykelslangen, Bridge by Dissing+Weitling. The Bicycle Snake Bridge is apparently one of only very few bikes-only bridges, no pedestrians, in the world. Maybe because it’s so unusual, maybe because many can’t resist it, often pedestrians will defy the rules and make bottlenecks for the bike traffic.

Arriving at the Orestad, The area was developed using the new town concept, closely linked with the M1 line of the Copenhagen Metro. There we can find a lot of interesting buildings, glass and transparent homes, kids and playground parks and a lot of green between the houses.

The Mountain Dwellings The program, however, is 2/3 parking and 1/3 living. The parking area became the base on which to place a hanging roof — like a concrete slope covered by a thin layer of housing, cascading from the 11th floor to the edge of the street with 80 apartments. The VM Houses, a housing project consisting of two adjacent apartment buildings, designed by JDS Architects and Bjarke Ingels Group, two residential blocks, with footprints in the shape of the letters V and M, have been designed with an emphasis on daylight, privacy, and views. The Royal Arena, a large, multipurpose arena features an exclusive undulating facade, Architects 3XN have designed Royal Arena very much to Scandinavian architectural principles, with quality and functionality in perfect balance. The Ressourcerækkerne, What if we could bring our buildings with us when migrating from the countryside to the city? What if we simply cut down buildings as building blocks and reuse them in the ever-expanding cities?

The Upcycle Studios, Upcycle Studios is an award-winning project that demonstrates how 3,000 m2 row houses can save 45% CO2 and turn 1,000 tonnes of waste into building materials. The 8 tallet House, was voted the world’s best residential building. With the organic and elegant construction, which borders the green surroundings of the community, The 476 new homes are divided into townhouses, apartments, and penthouses with their own gardens and/or balconies. The homes, which have everything you can expect from a modern home, also contain charming details such as the difference in level and ceiling height. You can visit with neighbors.

After the 8 tallet we can find the Himmelhøj Natural Park, with The Amage sheet, The Insect Forest, and The fireplace. At the Orestad, we can find the Kalvebod Fælled Skole, As a chronograph it tracks the passing of the year, the path of the sun, and children’s journey from early childhood into adolescence. The protected soft salt meadow landscape of Kalvebod Fælled follows the seasons; the crisp, glass of white frost on meadow grass gives way to the warmth of spring and later to the blossoming of rare species of clovers, irises, and umbellifers. Through its circular shape

When you came back to the city you can pass through The Tietgen Residence Hall by Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects, located near Copenhagen University in Ørestad North, housing approximately 400 students. The building’s circular form a symbol of equality and the communal are contrasted with the individual, projecting volumes expressing the individual residences. The principle inspiration for the project is this meeting of the collective and the individual, a characteristic inherent to the dormitory building type. To 200 meters The Karen Blixens Plads from Cobe, an urban space at the University, Occupies approximately 20,000 m². The plaza is located between the recently built university buildings of the South Campus and the nature reserve Amager Commons. A hybrid of the park and public square, organized as a superimposed surface of human-made hills and valleys with room for 2,000 parked bicycles inside the hills. The square works as a campus landscape with an important functional role as well as a recreational resource.

If you go by bike in summer you will need to pause to take baths during the journey.

Though to the south, any corner gives a small bath possibility, the importance is the clearance of the water and the access facilities.
Though to the east, these floating wood structures allow the Danish to colonize the river. The Krøyers Plads by Cove and Kalvebod Bølge by JDSA

Though the East

We need to cross Lille Langebro, designed by WilkinsonEyre and it is classified as a double-swing bridge. The unique visual elements include the twisted and curved design, we can pass the Cirkelbroen, by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, it recalls the shape of ships from years gone by.

the Krøyers Plads and the Refshalevej

We will be surprised by the Krøyers Plads, and We can arrive in Christiania, or we can visit the North Atlantic House, and take a POPL Burger. The Holmen zone is under construction and will have future islands to come.

I recommend visiting the Kuglegardsvej where Bolia, Louis Poulsen and Ferm LIVING showrooms.

The Royal Danish Academy, For more than 135 years, the Design School has contributed to the development of Danish design. From the Drawing and Art Industry School in 1875 to the Royal Academy of Design in 2020. The design program has study programs at the Department of Visual Design and the Department of Architecture and Design.

Cycle to Refshalevej, gives the possibility to understand the benefits the people of Christiania get by building their own houses. We will arrive at the CopenHill, the “cleanest waste-to-energy power plant in the world", which is topped by an artificial ski slope that is open all year round. Is capable of converting 440,000 tons of waste into clean energy annually. Behind we find the HOFOR — Amagerværket, Block 4 is Copenhagen’s new fossil-free power station. The plant, which produces both electricity and heat and is fueled by wood chips, is part of the plan to phase out coal and make Copenhagen the world’s first CO2-neutral capital. The architect has made the green vision of the city visible and has made the large power station block an active and positive addition to Copenhagen by adding a dense structure of 8,600 logs to the building. A stylized forest, through which the visitor is invited to climb a spectacular staircase, from which the production of energy can be seen along the way. The stairs end at a tree-lined observation deck that offers a unique view beyond the power plant, the city, and the water.

The CopenHill and HOFOR — Amagerværket

Taste the breakfast or lunch at Lille Bakery, visit Copenhagen Contemporary, bathe at CopenHot, or party at Halvandet.

Urban Rigger by BIG, coffee of Copenhagen Contemporary and Harvour ateliers at Refshaleoen.

In that zone is where we can find the main venue of Copenhagen Photo Festival 2023 and good bad zones such as Søndre Refshalebassin and La Banchina.

Badezone Søndre Refshalebassin and La Banchina in the East.

Though the Weast

We can start at Nørreport and visit the city market TorvehallerneKBH, is everyday open from 10.00 a.m. with a lot of lunch possibilities, takeaway your food in front we find the Israels Plads where a lost and found market we can find bizarre things.

Market at the Israels Plads, Wood Wood Museum brands

At Frederiksborggade we find a Stilleben at №22, Wood Wood Museum at nº54, crossing the channels we find the Tower Playground, a Kids Spot.

I recoment to visit Assistens Kirkegård, Cemetery and park dating from 1760, burial place of Soren Kierkegaard and Hans Christian Andersen, tombs and picnic share the grass space. We can take one of the bike routes, from the city and the country till the Superkilen park, a public park in the Nørrebro district of Copenhagen, Denmark. The park is designed to bring immigrants and locals together, promoting tolerance and unity in one of Denmark’s most ethnically-diverse and socially-challenged communities.Not only is the park a meeting place for local residents, it is a tourist attraction for Copenhagen. Designed by the arts group Superflex with the collaboration of Bjarke Ingels Group and Topotek1, a German landscape architecture firm. The almost kilometre-long park’s name refers to its shape, “kilen” meaning “wedge”.

More to the west we can find BoVita Dortheavej by BIG, and The Grundtvig’s Church by Peder Vilhelm Jensen-Klint

We can visit cultural sites, such as the Danish Design Museum, where we can find a lot of examples of danish design, more on old furniture and art pieces than in the newest exhibitions they propose.

One of the main interesting areas is the Magic of Form, an exhibition, that shows the kinship between Danish design and other forms of artistic expression. First and foremost visual arts, sculpture, and architecture, but also performing arts are included. Don’t forget the Format, the cafe with direct access to the green museum garden.

Danish Design museum order pieces of architecture and art into forms and concepts expressions.

Don’t forgert to visit the BLOX made by OMA, where we can find the Danish Architecture Centre and Danish Design Center.

The warm, summer, and hot make Copenhagen push in a happy hour party.

I used this google maps to navigate through the city, which is impossible to visit the city and the spots in three days, so is fundamental to plan the hours, the routes, and the districts.

The 3days of Design 2023 festival theme “Where Would We Be Without You?” was an acknowledgment of the power of collaboration. The 2023’s festival partners were Polestar and 25Hours Hotels, and media collaborators Bo Bedre and Dezeen.



Guillem Ferran

Product Design Teacher. Empower entrepreneurs, products and ideas. Barcelona.