Thrones, Seats, Chairs

Trip Start Oct 14, 2013
Trip End Oct 27, 2013

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Flag of Denmark  , Capital Region of Denmark,
Thursday, October 17, 2013

When we get to a new city, our first impulse is to search out the best coffee. Fortunately, Vince has had two months to conduct the necessary research and he directed us to meet him in the morning at Kaffe Laboratorium (Coffee Lab). The place did have an experimental feel – Chris had “siphon” coffee, made in an apparatus with an infrared heater that looked quite like a lava lamp. Vince had an air pressed version, and I had a traditionally pulled cappuccino. All excellent.

The no-nonsense café was below ground with windows at street level so that the woman next to us could keep one eye on her infant who was parked on the sidewalk in a large baby carriage with a hood. The babies here are bundled in little down sleeping bags and left to absorb the fresh air, whatever the weather. This accepted practice in Denmark is considered criminal negligence in New York City, to the befuddlement of visiting Danes. When the children get bigger, parents ride an oversized tricycle (known as a “Christiana” bike) with a large covered compartment in the front to transport one or two children and/or groceries (the minivan of bicycles). As many in Copenhagen use only bicycles for transportation, the kid-mover is a must.

Vince took us to the Glass Market, two long glass buildings filled with stands of fresh fish, meat, baked goods, produce, cheese and flowers. Like similar food meccas in Europe and the U.S. (think Pike’s Market in Seattle or Quincy Market in Boston), the Glass Market was a quick (though not cheap) way to see and sample the local specialties. Chris tried the ubiquitous smorrebrod (a slice of dense brown bread topped with fish or meat, sauce and herbs); Vince and I sampled traditional bread and pastries. Oh, and another coffee at Coffee Collective, another serious local roaster. Now we were ready for some hard tourist action.

We started at the nearby Rosenborg Castle, a renaissance era palace that served as the summer residence for Christian IV. The big attraction is the crown jewels housed in the heavily guarded basement – crowns, swords, etc. The rest of the castle is modest in size and filled with portraits of the royal family across the generations. The portraits showed a strong, consistent resemblance highlighted by an extremely unfortunate nose that seemed to persist in the bloodline for hundreds of years. The theme for the day was chairs, and there were several noteworthy examples here. The top floor housed a traditional throne room. One floor down, Chris and Vince were amused by the mechanical prankster’s chair, which would pin the unsuspecting victim’s arms down, produce farting noises, then pour water through a hole to make it appear that the person had wet his pants. On the ground floor was the King’s personal bathroom done in Delft tiles, prompting the boys to regale each other with obvious jokes about His Majesty's “other throne."

Surrounding the Castle are large and beautiful (now) public gardens filled with children and their parents enjoying the fall day. The sun had finally broken through and we found a bench to sit and soak it in. Vince tells us that the sun never seems to get very high in the sky and that, by December it will set before 4:00 p.m.

From Rosenborg, we walked to one of Vince’s favorite places: Design Museum Denmark. Denmark is, of course, famous for the design of furniture and objects and most particularly chairs. Chair design is also one of Vince’s obsessions and he has just finished designing and building his own in his New Nordic design class. He took us through the galleries, explaining each designer, and the evolution of materials, construction and forms.

We parted ways with Vince until dinner. Shortly after, he was spotted by a local street fashion photographer, who captured his “look", which was posted on Copenhagen Look Book today.

Chris and I were not not similarly detained and went home for a nap in time for our New Nordic dinner. I will describe that meal in the next post, but on the subject of chairs, I'll fast forward a bit and mention that, afterward, Vince took us by the DIS studio to show us his chair. He was to present it to the faculty the following afternoon, and so Vince practiced on us his explanation of how his effort was "dialoging" with the great history of Danish chair design.
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philiphurst on

I love Danish furniture design. If you happen to be looking at more Danish design, keep an eye open for Poul Kjaerholm: he produced some exquisitely beautiful, minimalist furniture in the 1960s that today looks as though it was designed yesterday. If you go into the big department store along that main pedestrianised street you'll almost certainly find his work still on sale.

philiphurst on

By the way, I do think we should be told more about this "high tech underwear". The mind boggles.

cmpatti on

The high tech underwear is no big deal, as long as you remember to recharge it every evening.

cmpatti on

As to Kjaerholm, we saw the PK25 lounge chair in the Design Museum. It was one of my favorites.

philiphurst on

I wonder if the PK25 was the only Kjaeholm chair on display at the Design Centre. It is actually my least favourite of his designs. In my apartment in Antibes I had some PK9 chairs, which I think are the most elegant of all, and a pair of PK22; I would love to have a PK24 chaise but, foolishly, I bought B&B Italia's version of an Eames, as you have seen.

Linda Williams on

A perfect blog about a perfect day--it was almost like being there, except being consumed with envy! Am going for a coffee NOW. Love you all, Linda

Amy Kendall on

Read this to Jack and Vivian. They couldn't stop giggling about the antique prankster's chair. They made me google for a photo and are wondering if Vince could somehow add potty humor to his chair design. I guess potty humor is timeless.

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