The next golden age for Danish design
9. May 2019
Exponential technological developments, uncontrolled climate change and political polarization call for design thinking, a holistic approach that places human beings at the centre. Few countries have such a strong foundation as Denmark to help address these challenges.
My Buemann

This article was originally brought in Shaping The Next: The magazine we recently published on the occasion of our 40th birthday. If you don't get your hands on a copy at one of our DesignAM events (stay tuned through our newsletter), you can find the magazine as a digital publication below. 

We are facing major challenges
What will a future with bionic minds and robots look like? How do we design new products, services and systems that mitigate climate change, secure growth for businesses in a digital age and create a human healthcare system?

These are major challenges that, at a glance, can seem impossible to surmount. We need a holistic approach that puts humans first and places values like empathy and sustainability front and centre. We need design thinking.

As more and more companies and organizations realise the urgency of adapting to these challenges, they are turning to designers to better understand and create tangible results for an uncertain future. Design creates coherence through a people-centered approach, resulting in social, democratic and accessible solutions. Although these would traditionally be considered “soft” values, they are a powerful means to achieving “hard” goals – growth, job creation and innovation.

I don’t think Denmark realizes that the world is actually looking at countries like yours.

Banny Banerjee, board member for the Danish Design Center & CEO of Change Labs, Stanford University

The Danish design DNA
Few countries in the world stand on such a strong design foundation as Denmark. This is partly due to our successful furniture icons of the 1950s and 60s. But Danish design has always been more than icons. And Danish design was always more than just beauty – though it always had en eye for aesthetics.

The essence of Danish Design and our creative DNA correspond with the essence and values of the Danish society. Community, equality, democracy and transparency.

These key values have made Danish design an inherent part of Denmark’s global brand and Danish export successes for many decades. Take a look at the finalists and winners of the Danish Design Award (formerly the Danish Design Prize) that for the past 50 years has celebrated the difference design makes. These include VELUX windows, Energy system labs in Nordhavn, playgrounds from Kompan, medical equipment from Radiometer, pumps from Grundfos, wheelchairs from R82, hearing aids from Oticon, bicycles from Biomega, Refugee housing concepts from VenligBolig, textiles from Kvadrat, car sharing from GoMore, Open Embassy, and colostomy bags from Coloplast. Just to mention a few.

Our biggest challenge is that design, and the way we design, is so embedded in our DNA that we tend to take it for granted. In the words of advisory board member for the Danish Design Centre and CEO of Change Labs at Stanford University, Banny Banerjee, “I don’t think Denmark realizes that the world is actually looking at countries like yours. There are very few countries which have the track record, the talents, the potential to bring tremendously transformative and deeply systemic solutions to the world.”

The opportunity to shape a new golden age for Danish Design is now. If we dare to be ambitious, activate our world-class design ecosystem and meet the global challenges with our strong tradition for collaboration, openness and curiosity, we can literally help make the world a better place, whether it be for products, systems or business models.

Shaping The Next