Visit to the Design Museum, Copenhagen

On a recent visit to Copenhagen, I made a pilgrimage to the Danish Museum of Art & Design. My mission was to get a fix of Hans Wegner chairs, breathe in some Verner Panton hypercolours and drool over a bit of vintage Bang & Olufsen.

It delivered on every count, with a few surprises.

the Copenhagen Design Museum

The best place in Copenhagen to eat your herring smørrebrød

First of all, the place itself.

The Design Museum is housed in a fabulous rococo building built in the mid 18th century. Grab a cup of tea and a herring smørrebrød on rye from the cafe, and enjoy the tranquil garden. There’s even a dovecote.


Dovecote at Copenhagen Design Museum

The ideal office

Inside the museum, I discovered my perfect office, with a lamp by Henry van de Velde and furniture that Johan Rohde designed in 1898 for his cousin, Dr Alfred Pers. There’s something so appealing about the combination of whitewashed walls, the opal glass lamp and dark mahogany wood. One of those chairs came up for auction recently, with a guide price of £13,500-£17,000. So I might have to wait a while before I recreate this look in London.

Furniture by Johan Rohde

Something to aspire to

A piano with a difference

And so to the music room, which features an extraordinary piano designed by Poul Henningsen in 1931. This was something else. The steel and celluloid open design transformed the lid into a butterfly wing poised to fly away from the instrument. Given the surreal design, I feel this piano could be a precursor to the ‘pianococktail’ Boris Vian invented in his 1947 novel ‘Froth on the Daydream’. (When Colin plays the piano, different notes produce different cocktail ingredients. One pedal dispenses egg white; the other ice cubes. He has to be careful not to muddle them up.)


Piano with celluloid lid

Surrealist piano with celluloid lid

Saturated colour

Onto my favourite space – the Verner Panton room. Seventeen years ago The Design Museum in London put on a ‘Light and Colour’ exhibition devoted to Panton’s work. You followed a series of rooms that immersed you deeper and deeper in intense colours. It was spectacular.


The Design Museum in Copenhagen has its own one-room version of this experience, where a classic high-gloss scarlet ‘S’ chair jostles for attention against colour pop pendants and a mirrored orb lamp.

These are a few of the highlights from my visit. If you go to the museum, there’s one more thing to do before you leave: see if you can get a picture of yourself in the giant chair in the foyer. (It was constantly full of selfie takers during my visit.) And if you discover who made that chair, please let me know!