The New Zealand Arts Review

The Egg Chair

Danish Design

Denmark Design,

Auckland Art Gallery

Until February 2, 2020

The Auckland Art Gallery exhibition of Danish design closes at the end of the week. Curated by the Designmuseum Danmark the exhibition outlines the development of Danish design from the 19th century to present day with more than 200 objects spanning furniture, graphic design, tableware, light fittings, and jewellery.

Auckland Art Gallery Director Kirsten Paisley says, ‘Denmark Design will showcase the ground-breaking creativity and enduring appeal of Danish design. These objects are renowned across the world as timeless in their ingenuity and international resonance.’ ‘New Zealanders have been bringing classic examples of Danish design into their homes since the 1950s – from the sleek Panton chair to the ubiquitous Bodem coffee press, icons of Danish design are synonymous with the art of homemaking.

This exhibition is a must for anyone with interests in interior design, industrial design and the applied arts.’ The most obvious example of Danish design won’t be on show however but most New Zealanders will have experienced Danish design in the form of Sydney Opera House designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon It’s a building which was ahead of its time both in its appearance and the use of materials showing the Danish approach to design, combining aesthetics, functionality and simplicity.

The exhibition curator Emma Jameson says, ‘Denmark has been at the vanguard of design because of its nuanced balancing of function and aesthetics. By displaying the objects individually and within staged home settings, the exhibition will showcase the ground-breaking craftsmanship of Danish design while emphasizing how design items were, and still are, intended for the everyday needs of the home.’

The exhibition features iconic works, such as the ‘Egg’ chair, the ‘PH Artichoke’ light and the Lego brick. Among the pioneering designers and manufacturers whose creativity and skill are represented are Royal Copenhagen, Hans Wegner, Finn Juhl, Arne Jacobsen, Verner Panton, Nanna Ditzel, Henning Koppel, Georg Jensen, Komplot and Ursula Munch-Petersen.

The Y or the ‘Wishbone’ chair designed by Hans Wegner in 1949 has been in continuous production for more than 50 years and is a landmark piece of design in terms of innovation in manufacturing and was a catalyst in changing attitudes towards furniture design in the 1950s and 1960s

There are a couple of works by the prominent designer Arne Jacobsen. In the late 1950’s he designed all aspects of the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, from the exterior façade through to the stainless-steel cutlery as well as the “Egg” chairs which were in the lobby of the hotel The “Egg” is a perfect example of Jacobsen’s principles of design, and the unique use of curved lines and simple forms made the chair stand out at the time. Jacobsen’s AJ cutlery set look to be of much more recent design being perfectly balanced and like the Sydney opera house a marriage of the functional and timeless design.

The exhibition highlights the complex craft and production processes behind finished objects of classic simplicity as well as the way craftsmanship and innovation in two- and three-dimensional design was applied to objects for everyday use. Exploring the processes of designing and making, the exhibition reveals how the Danish have considered not just the wellbeing of the individual user, but also materials, economics, environment and society to result in an approach that offers us all a new way of living – a design for life.