Danish Design: The Beauty of Minimalism and Functionality


Denmark is famous for many things, including its delicious pastries, innovative cuisine, cycling culture and the whole Viking thing. But one area that perhaps sets it apart from other countries is its reputation for design. Danish design is renowned worldwide for its minimalistic, functional, and sleek aesthetic. The style is both understated and elegant, with a focus on form, function, and quality. In this article, I’ll take a closer look at Danish design, its history, and some of its most famous practitioners.

A Brief History of Danish Design

Danish design has its roots in the early 20th century, when a group of architects and designers founded the Danish Design School in Copenhagen. The school was based on the principles of functionalism, which emphasized the importance of design that was both beautiful and practical. The school quickly gained a reputation for producing talented designers, and by the 1950s, Danish design had become an international phenomenon.

One of the most influential figures in Danish design was Arne Jacobsen. Jacobsen was a prolific designer, known for his minimalist furniture designs, particularly his chairs. His most famous design is the Egg Chair, which he created in 1958 for the lobby of the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. The chair is a perfect example of the simplicity and elegance that characterizes Danish design.

Another important figure in Danish design was Hans Wegner. Wegner is best known for his furniture design, particularly his chairs. His most famous design is the Wishbone Chair, which he created in 1949. The chair is made from wood and features a distinctive Y-shaped backrest. It is considered a classic of Danish design and is still popular today.

The Characteristics of Danish Design

Danish design is characterized by a number of key features. One of the most important is its focus on function. Danish designers believe that form should always follow function, and they prioritize the practical over the ornamental. This means that Danish design is often very minimalistic, with clean lines and simple shapes.

Another important characteristic of Danish design is its emphasis on quality. Danish designers believe that good design should last a lifetime, and they use only the highest-quality materials and manufacturing techniques. This means that Danish furniture, for example, is often made from wood, which is durable, sustainable, and easy to work with.

Finally, Danish design is known for its attention to detail. Danish designers believe that every element of a design should be considered, from the overall shape to the smallest details like the hardware or stitching. This means that Danish designs are often very precise and refined.

Arne Jacobsen

My favourite Danish designer is Arne Jacobsen. Designer of ‘the famous chairs’, as well as furniture and products, he also was an architect, with a quite phenomenal body of work. If you are visiting Copenhagen I’d recommend popping into the Royal Copenhagen Hotel (it keeps changing its name, currently Radisson Royal Copenhagen) either to stay, or for a drink, as the foyer area features his Swan and Egg chairs, and has a very elegant 1960s chic Scandinavian feel. Just opposite the main Copenhagen train station (Hovedbangården) and Tivoli.


If you feel like a little tour by bike a half hour to the norther outskirts of Copenhagen, or take the train to Klampenborg Station, you can visit Bellevue beach. The lifeguard towers, kiosks and apartments opposite the beach were designed by Arne. About a 15 minute walk towards Copenhagen there is a fantastic petrol/gas station designed by him too. Just a beautiful piece of design.

Famous Examples of Danish Design

There are many famous examples of Danish design, from furniture to architecture to everyday objects. Here are just a few:

  1. The Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen – The Egg Chair is perhaps the most iconic piece of Danish design. Created in 1958, it is a perfect example of the simplicity and elegance of Danish design.
  2. The Wishbone Chair by Hans Wegner – The Wishbone Chair is another classic of Danish design. Created in 1949, it features a distinctive Y-shaped backrest and is still popular today.
  3. The PH Lamp by Poul Henningsen – The PH Lamp is a design classic, created in 1925. It features a series of concentric shades that diffuse the light, creating a soft and warm glow.
  4. The Sydney Opera House by Jørn Utzon – The Sydney Opera House is one of the most famous buildings in the world, and it was designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon. The building is a perfect example of the simplicity and elegance of Danish design.
  5. The LEGO Brick – LEGO is perhaps the most famous Danish design of all. The company was founded in 1932 and has been producing its iconic plastic bricks ever since

The Danish Design Museum link.

The Visit Denmark website (the official tourism website for Denmark) has a great page linking in to different design elements if you are visiting the country.

copenhagen budget beer

Copenhagen on a budget 2020 – how to get a cheap pint and other tips


How to get a cheap pint in Copenhagen and other tips updated for 2020

There is a misconception Denmark has the same alcohol pricing as their Scandinavian cousins Norway and Sweden, where alcohol is very expensive. Copenhagen supermarkets sell alcohol at similar or cheaper prices than a British supermarket. Danish supermarkets include Netto, Fakta, Føtex, Brugsen, Aldi and Lidl. There is also a very wide range of prices that a beer can cost from bar to bar.


Photo in Danish supermarket from 2020. 55 DKK for 12 cans. That is less than 50p per can, 65 cents US. (small cans 33cl) Carlsberg and Heineken would be a similar price. Not a particular special offer.

A seven quid pint

There are bars where a beer can be expensive. A 70 DKK (£7 plus, $10 plus) pint is not unheard of. The places you will find this are Copenhagen Airport, Tivoli, Nyhavn, restaurants and Irish Bars on busy, expensive properties. Much like London, Paris, Rome, capital cities with large volumes of tourists. You go a street behind a main thoroughfare, and you should find a better priced pint, or whatever your tipple.

How to get a cheap pint in Copenhagen airport. In the 7-11 kiosks that are dotted about Copenhagen airport,  a large cold can of Carlsberg is about 15 kroner (£1.50 – a little over $2) per can, as opposed to 7 quid plus ($10 plus) for a pint in an airport bar. Or a warm can from duty free (same price).

A personal opinion on Copenhagen Airport is Copenhagen Kommune (council) ought to have a word with them about their pricing. Often the last impression people have of Copenhagen is being robbed by one of their airport’s bars.

Nyhavn budget tip: Nyhavn is the colourful harbour of most Copenhagen postcards and travel documentaries. On a warm summer’s day, a fantastic experience to sit and enjoy a drink, coffee or something to eat, but not cheap. Notice at the quayside young Danes sitting enjoying the sunshine and a beer with friends. They will have bought  a can or bottle of beer at a kiosk on one of the back streets of Nyhavn. And then pop back for a nice cold replacement when they need it.

Budget travel in Copenhagen

A huge part of central Copenhagen is walkable. It was originally a fortified castle. So the old city is very tightly packed. Depending where your hotel is, you should be able to walk pretty much everywhere. Very obvious tip, but while looking for a hotel, look for one close to a Metro station. The metro runs directly to the airport. About twenty minutes from the centre.

Just to show Danish design is not always cool, sophisticated and expertly planned (but usually), the Metro (or Underground) train, is upstairs at the airport. The mainline train is downstairs. Make sure you are on the correct platform for the mainline train, if you are not, your next stop is Sweden.

I’m not sure what advice the train ticket office in the airport give tourists for a long weekend. I was once behind tourists being recommended a weekend travel pass, which I suspect was not needed. You really need a ticket to and from the centre from the airport. After that, if you cycle (hire a bike for about £10 per day), or are up for a good walk, you should be fine.

I would recommend to everyone to hire a bike as it’s a fantastic way to get around the city, and the bike lanes being on their own pavement separate from the road and the pedestrian pavement make it very safe.

Here’s the official ticket/travel Copenhagen info. www.visitcopenhagen.com/copenhagen/transportation/tickets-prices 


Cigarettes are considerably cheaper than the UK. And some bars allow smoking. The rule is that a bar under 40 square metres may allow smoking. Quite a few do. Maybe not so good for your health to be in a tightly packed room filled with smoke but each to their own. You can also wonder at how 40 square metres appears a bit bigger in Copenhagen than everywhere else. The same people who won’t cross the road if the red man is showing, even if there is no traffic, know how to break a rule or three.

Visiting Christiania

The free town of Christiania is a very nice place to visit. A society within a society. Lots of arty workshops, galleries, music venues and alternative restaurants and bars. There are also soft drugs on sale, quite openly depending on how busy Copenhagen’s police are with other stuff at that time.

Top tip. If you were to buy a ready made joint, and were to think, probably not that strong, at that price, just £2, I’ll be fine, do I look like I can’t handle a little … oh that’s nice, ooh that was stronger than I expected. Holy shit, I’m flying. This is amazing. Just the greatest ever. I want to get off. Want to stop. Don’t feel well. I feel the need to march to Sweden.

An entire evening’s drama and entertainment in one £2 joint. I heard from a friend.

So take it easy with that first joint. No matter how hard core you are.

This official tourist website is a brilliant resource for things to do in Copenhagen. www.visitcopenhagen.com

And if you are considering moving to Copenhagen, here’s my tips on learning Danish.

About Copenhagen based designer and illustrator Iain Cameron. Also here’s my portfolio.

I should probably end this by saying skål!


Do you need to learn Danish to live in Denmark?


Do you need to learn Danish to live in Denmark? The answer is No, and Yes.

You can work, live and study in Denmark without learning Danish. I know a number of British, American and French people that have lived here years without learning the language. There are companies who use English as their first language, and a few who will allow you to work in a Danish speaking office without Danish. However since I moved to Denmark in 1996, my advice would be learn it, and learn it as quickly as possible. No matter how difficult, annoying or time consuming it feels, and stick with it until you are fluent.

The Danes are speaking the English very good

Pretty much everyone in Denmark, old and young speak and or understand English. But as polite and helpful as Danes generally are in speaking English, it can be wearing for them. And you are in their country.

Do you want to sit at a meeting or meal with five Danes, and everyone speaks English because of you? Do you want to be doing that five or ten years after you have lived in Copenhagen? No you don’t, so learn their language.


It’s a long hard struggle to learn Danish

It is difficult learning Danish. As you start taking tentative steps to speak Danish you meet the frustration of speaking Danish only to be answered in English, by someone with a smug grin on their face, who appears to be rubbing your nose in it. They are in fact just trying to be helpful. That one happens a lot at the beginning, but it eases off as you improve.

Is it a waste of time learning Danish?

One of the arguments for not learning Danish is ‘what’s the point, only 5 and a half million people speak the language’. I’ve heard this a few times from seemingly smart people. Well unless you generally talk with a couple of million people per year, I really don’t think that argument is anything other than an excuse for laziness.

Some people have a natural ear for language, and a have a memory that suits language learning. For others like me, it’s just hard painful work. It took me five months on a part time course (at Studieskolen in Copenhagen) to get enough Danish to blag my way through a job interview in Danish. This involved quite a bit of nodding along, and occasionally repeating the last word they said in a vague attempt to look like I understood what they were talking about. You’ll be amazed what you can get away with by maintaining eye contact, and appearing fascinated by everything someone says. Until you’re asked a question.

It takes a little time to build up the fluency, but you will only pick it up after first doing a course. The idea that you will pick up Danish through osmosis, aint gonna happen, just as, ‘I will learn Danish later’ isn’t going to happen. Do it now.

And if you are interested on some budget tips for visiting Copenhagen click here.

Some of the Danish language schools

www.kbh-sprogcenter.dk Copenhagen Language Center
www.studieskolen.dk Studieskole (Is the one I went to)
Speak – School of DanishTeaching Danish at Frederiksberg, Hellerup and Lyngby.

www.kiss.dk KISS – Københavns Intensive Sprogskole – Copenhagen’s Intensive language school. (Always wondered if Gene Simmons teaches there. In full make-up)

Iain Cameron is a Copenhagen based freelance graphic designer, web designer and illustrator. Here is my About page, and my portfolio page.


The joy of Brønshøj’s Utterslev Mose in the Spring


I am incredibly lucky to live in such close proximity to Utterslev Mose, near my home in Brønshøj on the outskirts of Copenhagen. Every day I take a walk or cycle around to clear the design cob webs, have a nice think, get some exercise and enjoy the beauty of nature at her finest. Come Spring it becomes a feast for the eyes at Utterslev Mosen.

As a cyclist you need your wits about you as you manoeuvre around some very precious obstacles.







The Design Museum Copenhagen

Copenhagen’s Design Museum offers a rich and varied guide around Danish design. From furniture, products, fashion and graphic design, the classic Scandinavian influences and the icons of Danish Design like Arne Jacobsen, Børge Mortensen and Verner Panton feature.

While the world renowned furniture, products and fashion design quite rightly feature strongly, the rich tradition of Danish poster design and logo design is also well represented. Web design is also featured which is great to see the world of the web entering into design history and gaining recognition.

The collection is stunning, with new exhibitions changing regularly. Highly recommended.






Finding the Design Museum in Copenhagen

Bredgade is just off Kongens Nytorv, the square that contains Magasin and Nyhavn harbour. About ten minutes walk, just past Amalienborg, the Royal Family’s winter residence and the very beautiful Marmor Kirk. If you carry on past the design museum you will eventually come to the Little Mermaid. So no excuse for not visiting.



The time I cycled into a Danish policeman and knocked him over

On moving to Denmark, one of the first things I had to do on my arrival in Copenhagen was to purchase a bicycle. My then girlfriend found one in a newspaper. A price was agreed and borrowing my girlfriend’s bike, I just had to go and get it.

We were staying on Amager, the bike was on Nørrebro, around a 45 minute journey. I cycled to the seller’s flat and made the transaction.

So with a five mile journey ahead of me, in the dark, in a country/city I have just arrived in, cycling on a different side of the road to that which I am accustomed, on two bikes and with no bike lights, I begin my journey through the heart of Copenhagen. Unaware of the Danish laws, but not a complete idiot, I suspected cycling while holding/pulling another bicycle might be frowned upon.

I’m on Nørrebrogade, a major road cutting through Copenhagen about 5 minutes cycle from Dronning Louise Bro, and I spot half a dozen Policemen at the side of the road.

On spotting me on my two bikes without lights, one of them steps out onto the cycle path, raising his hand in the internationally recognised stop position. The bike I was on had no hand brakes, but a pedal backwards braking system. This was something I had never come across before moving to Denmark. It had been going fine with the pedal backwards braking system up until that point, but I panicked when the Danish policeman stepped out onto the road, and I forgot how to brake.

I cycled straight into the unfortunate guy, and knocked him over. He was in his fifties, a little over weight, with a moustache. As he fell over, his five or six colleagues (much younger and bigger, and fitter) laughed.

I was expecting to get deported.

Just at the point where I was about to find out my fate, there was a buzzing noise from a walkie talkie, lots of talking, and all the Policemen ran off with some urgency. ‘My’ policeman picked himself up to go follow his colleagues, shot me a filthy look, while shouting instructions to me to do something in Danish, while running to catch up with his much fitter colleagues.

Not speaking a word of Danish at the time, I decided what he must have said was ‘carry on, and try not forget how those brakes work in future eh’, and proceeded with my journey.

The time I got on a plane and I didn’t know where it was going

I get to my gate. ‘Are you Iain Cameron?’, with a weary look of annoyance. ‘Take a seat’. I sit alone, my fellow travellers having already departed in the airport bus to our plane.

It had begun with a series of delays on my journey from my flat to Copenhagen Airport. Followed by a series of delays in the airport from queuing for, well it’s Copenhagen Airport, so everything then.

Queue for the check in machine, queue to drop off suitcase. Queue to get into the security area, queue for security. Queue for a cup of coffee, queue to pay for cup of coffee. Queue to get through passport control.

The sign saying ‘No Photography’ below the queue in the security area, is as close to an admission of shame as Scandinavian bureaucracy will get.

I’m tired, I’m irritable, I’m going to drink my coffee. But in retrospect, probably should have taken a look at my watch at this point.

I begin making my way to my gate. It’s so far away, it feels like it might be in Sweden. Then over the tannoy ‘Would Iain Cameron please make his way to Gate D17 IMMEDIATELY’.

I’m not that person. I’m never late for flights. I’ve been in airports before. I’ve heard people getting their names announced half a dozen times to get to a gate, but here I am, the first ever time I’m late in an airport, getting a tone of voice I have not heard since I was at school.

So I am sitting alone waiting for the bus, and a bus appears. Copenhagen Airport has a number of bays in a row, so it’s not entirely obvious which bus is for which gate. I look up towards the check in desk for a reassuring nod of approval… they’ve gone, and I hadn’t even noticed.

So I get on the bus, it’ll be mine. Off we drive at quite a tempo. Should I have checked with the bus driver this was my bus? Well too late now. We reach our destination. Doors open, out I go, doors close, off goes the bus.

I am standing almost exactly at the midpoint between two aeroplanes ready for boarding. I am possibly two metres closer to one of them. If I’d left the bus by a different door, two metres closer to the other one.

I approach the one slightly closer. It’ll be fine, I can check with the flight attendant on boarding.

There is no flight attendant. They are at the back helping others with their hand luggage. So do I ask the passengers at the front of the plane?

‘Is this the flight to Aberdeen?’

Of course not! They are ALL going to laugh at the guy who arrived late and didn’t know if it was the correct flight. And someone will go ‘No, this flight is to Sydney Australia’, and another will go ‘No, this is to Bejing’. Then I will have to sit on a plane with a group of people who think I’m an idiot.

So to not appear an idiot, I don’t ask.

With my brain working at a far faster rate than normal, I work out if my seat is vacant, I’m on the correct plane.

My seat is indeed vacant. As are half a dozen others in close proximity.

So I sit down, and for the first time that morning am completely relaxed, resigned to the possibilities and that they are out with my control. I think, how exciting, I wonder where I am going, with no luggage. I’m on an adventure. I’m Marco Polo, I’m Ernest Hemingway. I might be on the news tonight.

Then a voice over the intercom goes ‘Welcome to flight XYZ for Aberdeen…’.



Still life illustration work in progress


This is a work in progress for my portfolio. It is based on a meal in The Nørrebro Bryghus restaurant in Nørrebro in Copenhagen.

I had a very enjoyable meal with my good friend Pedro.

As an illustrator the advice given is always to stick to one style. This is with regard to selling as an illustrator, to be memorable for art directors. I have always had difficulty following this advice, and when younger the constraints stopped me being able to work at times.

So there’s the cartoon work that is the majority my iain.dk website, the still life like the above image, portraiture (new ones coming soon) and more detailed character design.

I justify my switching of styles by pointing out Sir Paul McCartney wrote Helter Skelter, Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, and Hey Jude. So if the great man can switch style as he pleases so can I.

I appreciate putting myself in the same sentence as Sir Paul is an act of laughable egoism, but if no one else will do it…


Roskilde Festival Art


It’s not all sex, drugs and rock n roll at Roskilde Festival, but it is mainly…

Whether staying for the whole week, camping on site, or a short visit with a one day ticket, The Roskilde Festival is a fantastic experience not to be missed.

The 2016 Roskilde Festival is from the 25th of June to the 2nd of July. Details on the official website. To be honest it doesn’t really matter who is playing, it is the experience that is magical. Go see for yourself.

The art of Roskilde Festival

There are lots of places to read about and see images from the Roskilde Festival. Here is some of the excellent graffiti art that is on display.






Back to work after a relaxing summer


Back to school work

With August about to turn into September, I find myself happily going up through the gears back into proper work mode. I’ve had a great summer, my first real break in many years. My batteries are recharged, and I’m raring to go from my base in Copenhagen.

One of the best aspects of living in Copenhagen is the work, life balance. The business side of the city clearly winds down a bit during the peak summer months, but then cranks back to life with everyone refreshed, with ideas and eager to explore possibilities.

We are three!

My design business will shortly be three years old. I am very proud of what I’ve achieved, and grateful to all the clients I have been lucky enough to meet and work with. Here’s to the next three years!

So if you want to see some of my work, here is web design.

This is for graphic design, specialising in logo design.

And my other core area Illustration.

Skål, Slangevar, Cheers!