The history of the Danish Design Centre

1978 - 1999
The Danish Design Centre (DDC) was founded with a focus on the value of Danish as a means of boosting exports and turnover in Danish business and industry. The emphasis was on industrial design, and design was mainly promoted in the form of objects designed for industrial production with function and aesthetic as the key parameters. Danish Modern was the ideal, and the finest products were rewarded with the ID Prize.

Based in the domicile of the Confederation of Danish Industry on Town Hall Square, the DDC hosted lectures, exhibitions and promotion events and published books, articles and magazines about the use of design in industries. At the time, the small square publications from the DDC were known by design professionals throughout most of the world as the DDC’s calling card. The target groups were relatively narrow defined as designers, industry and media.

Until 2000, the DDC was headed by Jens Bernsen.

2000 - 2011
In 2000, the DDC moved to its new domicile on H. C. Andersens Boulevard, also in the heart of Copenhagen. A radically new view of the concept of design emerged in the early 2000s that challenged the perception of design as the end-result, a product achieved in a symbiosis of art and industry. Around the world, and also at the DDC, the emphasis shifted to the process itself, and design thinking became a key term. This led to an expanded concept of design that also included systems design, service design and co-creation.

The DDC now sought to promote design thinking in business, industry and the public sector. Design as a driver and a source of innovation was the ideal, and the DDC promoted this message through courses and models including 360 degrees, DesignBoost, the DIN model etc. The expanded concept of design is now embraced by many companies and is increasingly reflected in the services offered by design agencies.

By virtue of the new domicile, the DDC also staged many big exhibitions during this period, which were not only targeted at industry and the design profession but also aimed at communicating design to the general public. In addition to a café, a restaurant, and a design shop, the new building also offered conference services and became a popular venue for events, celebrations etc.

In 2000-2005, the DDC was headed by Ulla Hovgaard Ramlau. In 2005-2011, the DDC was headed by Christian Scherfig.

2011 - 2014
At this point in time, the DDC began to focus more on gathering, analysing and communicating knowledge about the key factors influencing design. This effort took place in cooperation with designers, partners, sponsors, business and industry and a broad national and international audience. The goal was to contribute to preserving Denmark’s role as a leading design nation by facilitating design and innovation and demonstrating the key role of design in meeting the challenges facing society. Another related ambition was to turn the domicile on H. C. Andersens Boulevard into a creative community for design companies and institutions. The design shop and restaurant were closed, and the conference services were discontinued. Instead, the shared office ‘Design Society’ was launched, and a new large café area was set up on the ground floor. The design organisations INDEX: Design to Improve Life and the Danish Fashion Institute (DAFI) moved in.

During this period, the DDC was headed by Nille Juul-Sørensen.

2015 -
The government’s growth plan for design and the creative professions from 2013 made it a natural move for the DDC and the other national architecture and design organisations to move into BLOX, Realdania’s new complex on the former Brewhouse site. Therefore, the DDC decided to sell the building on H. C. Andersens Boulevard and temporarily move into shared facilities with the architecture and design organisations in the innovation hub in the former military storage Fæstningens Materialgård at 30 Frederiksholms Kanal. The entire architecture and design field is now scheduled to move to BLOX in early 2018.

After selling its domicile, the DDC no longer had public facilities for café and exhibition activities. Instead, it was now possible to expand the organisation, bringing in new employees and competencies in design, innovation and technology, and to renew the focus on the interactions between companies and designers.

In early 2016, the DDC launched a new strategy that is based on respect for history and the qualities represented by Danish design but which is also clearly oriented towards the future. The DDC’s focus in the coming years is on conducting systematic experiments with design-based value creation in companies. The DDC’s vision is to make design one of the three main positions of strength for Danish companies. The DDC has high ambitions but also a sense of humility and a clear understanding that the task of increasing companies’ use of design can only be addressed in open partnerships. Therefore, the DDC is aiming to establish strong and innovative partnerships with relevant stakeholders, both in Denmark and abroad. Pr. January 1, 2020 the design cluster D2i became part of Danish Design Centre, and the office in Kolding works to strengthen SMEs.

Today, the DDC is headed by CEO Christian Bason.


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