Three Things about My Denmark

Tell me your favorite thing about this country, and why:
Hygge! Pronounced like “Hyew-guh.” It’s a noun.

Hygge-issimo

Hygge-issimo

This is something only a Scandinavian culture could conceive of, and it informs a lot about the Danish people. What it basically means, and there’s not a direct translation into English, is a feeling of coziness, calm and good feelings among friends. Why hyyge? Winters are long, dark, and cold!

Atelier Tobias Jacobsen. Photo by Hiromitsu Morimoto: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hetgacom/

Atelier Tobias Jacobsen. Photo by Hiromitsu Morimoto: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hetgacom/

I see hygge in the architecture and interior design thinking in Denmark. I used to think Danish design was all about slick sterile surfaces, but it definitely is not!

Detail of PK22 Chair, Wicker and Steel. Photo by Jonas Forth: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jforth/

Detail of PK22 Chair, Wicker and Steel. Photo by Jonas Forth: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jforth/

I think it’s about that reassuring feeling of good stuff, stuff you want to share with people. Much of classic Danish furniture was designed with wood surfaces, teak in particular, and I think it’s an essential material for that furniture.

Arne Jacobsen Table, Teak Laminate. Photo by Hiromitsu Morimoto: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hetgacom/

Arne Jacobsen Table, Teak Laminate. Photo by Hiromitsu Morimoto: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hetgacom/

You see this in the food too, which for years was kind of bad-mouthed as clunky and old-fashioned (it’s not) but it’s really about this communal experience. It’s not all cheese, butter, fish and foraged food, it’s more like, here’s something we can share, and life is good when you can share things. Here’s to that!

Tell me a few things about Denmark that a lot of travelers miss, and that you think a visitor shouldn’t miss:
Copenhagen’s Illums Bolighus:

Illums Bolighus (after Lee Freidlander.) Photo by Thomas Ackermann: https://www.flickr.com/photos/angermann/

Illums Bolighus (after Lee Freidlander.) Photo by Thomas Ackermann: https://www.flickr.com/photos/angermann/

If you are an interior design nerd (with space on your credit card – airline miles!) this is a must visit! Four floors of thoughtful, iconic, inspiring, silly, outrageous and purchasable interior things (hygge anyone?) It feels like a museum in a sense, because of the care and thoughtfulness put into the display, the architecture of the building and the rarity of some of the items up for sale.

Illums Bolighus Exterior, Holidays. Photo by Suzanne Nillson: https://www.flickr.com/photos/infomastern/

Illums Bolighus Exterior, Holidays. Photo by Suzanne Nillson: https://www.flickr.com/photos/infomastern/

It’s right in the middle of central Copenhagen, easy to get to.
Smørrebrød:

Smørrebrød. Photo by CycloneBill: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cyclonebill/

Smørrebrød. Photo by CycloneBill: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cyclonebill/

Ask any Dane what their comfort food is, this is the answer, Denmark’s famous open-faced sandwiches. In many many ways they are Danish Tacos, in the Mexico City sense of a taco: a pure perfect bite where the taste of the main ingredient is an exclamation point (or whisper) and everything else is in support of it. Salmon – cold cured, smoked, fried, raw – is usually the major protein, and most of the bread is delicious Scandinavian Dark Rye. Everyone you will meet will have a very definite idea of where the best place to have Smørrebrød is, just ask!
The views inside and around the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art:

 Alexander Calder Sculpture, Louisiana Museum Cafe, Denmark. Photo by Sven Lindner https://www.flickr.com/photos/svenlindner/

Alexander Calder Sculpture, Louisiana Museum Cafe, Denmark. Photo by Sven Lindner https://www.flickr.com/photos/svenlindner/

It’s a short train ride away from downtown Copenhagen, and a short walk through a suburb. I remember very vividly seeing the best Gerhard Richter retrospective exhibit I’d ever (and will ever) see there. What really caught me off guard though was how incredible the building and its grounds are. I remember I found a small room there, with a view overlooking the Öresund strait into Sweden. The most incredible museum I’ve ever had the experience of being inside of and looking out of.

 

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