The Kitchen Designer

Thanks for stopping by! I'm Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer, and my mission is to take kitchen design style, function and analysis to a higher level. Here's why the kitchen has the most honored place in the home - all five senses reside in the kitchen.  Best...Susan  Contact: susan@susanserraassociates.com

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Entries in modern (14)


The Modern Kitchen Pantry

The design of the kitchen pantry is an opportunity to play with form and function. The image below was taken by me at a kitchen fair in Germany, LivingKitchen. Take a look at the special design elements.

Finish - An immediate attraction for me, this super rich brown finish adds a large dose of immediate visual warmth regardless of its otherwise modern design. The grain has a horizontal direction, another hint of a modern aesthetic.

Cubicles - We quickly focus in on the three white cubicles, situated in the cabinetry in an asymmetrical design. The cubicles serve to project an unexpected visual treat, solely to add interest to the cabinetry. The high contrast of bright white surrounded by the rich brown finish serves as a visual punctuation mark!

Recessed Hardware - The hardware, recessed rather than a separate pull or knob, provides a built-in look and a modern horizontal shape. 

Lines - The rectilinear shape of the pantry cabinetry, unadorned by molding, accentuate its modern design.

Overall, these pantry cabinets communicate a look of modern sophistication. Think out of the (typical) pantry box to add your own special design elements. It's rewarding to just take a few creative steps beyond the typical which always results in a highly personal and timeless design.



Dining Tables & Chairs At AD Show 2013

An important part of any kitchen design, both aesthetically and functionally, are the dining table and chairs. They assist in sending a message about the kitchen's style, formality, comfort level and more.

As current trends continue to move toward an appreciation of natural materials and interesting textures, here is a collection of cool, new dining tables and chairs I spotted at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show

Important considerations when purchasing a dining table and chairs for the kitchen are:

  • size and shape based on lifestyle needs (does it need to expand?)
  • maintenance of table top
  • color, texture, materials coordination
  • comfort
  • formality/informality
  • adequate space for movement around the table and chairs
  • style relationship to kitchen and surrounding rooms

All images below are by me, and the brand names are below the images.  Enjoy!

By Karkula

By Palo Samko

By John Eric Byers

By Tucker Robbins

By: Wud Furniture Design

By Antonio Manaigo

By Work & Design

What a design statement a table and chairs can make!


Modern Kitchen Backsplash Accessories

Written By Kelly:

With the floorplan for my kitchen renovation decided upon in terms of work flow and lifestyle considerations, it was time to take a close look at an important functional aspect of the entire design - countertop prep space.

My old kitchen countertop with all the charming kitchen objects in place, allowing, maybe 9-10" of prep space front to back!

While, to me, my kitchen is a decent size having come from shoebox apartment kitchens in Manhattan, at 190 square feet, it is still small for suburbia. It was very important to both me and my mom/Susan/kitchen designer (all in one) to design in efficient countertop prep space; otherwise, really, what's the point? We immediately thought of Kessebohmer - a German brand we were familiar with that offers clever storage solutions as beautiful to look at as they are to use.

Since our main goal was freeing up counter space, I surveyed my counters in their current (read: cluttered) state and took stock of which elements would be most beneficial to our lifestyle and space and which could be moved off the counter. The Kessebohmer Linero collection became a quick answer to countertop clutter.

Linero is a classic modern rail system that is at once practical and extremely versatile. In fact, its beauty lies in its versatility. The simplistic design consists of a variable length horizontal rail that can be customized with any number of smart attachments.

As Kessebohmer's collection is so intuitive, we arrived upon more accessories than I had space along my backsplash where the main rail would be positioned. How to choose? We elected to get each accessory that I thought I would use under different lifestyle situations, and change them out as needed.

This concept has since evolved into many different, and FUN, iterations, and has given us a tremendous amount of flexibility - which is THE keyword for my kitchen. Here are the elements we chose, and how they've been incorporated into our multi-functional kitchen:

Spice Rack - This accessory houses my most-used spices, kept conveniently at arms length for when I need them, literally, in a pinch! Positioned at the far end of the rail, it is situated a safe distance from the heat of the cooktop so as to not spoil the spices.

Multi-Purpose Shelf - Simply one, clean, stainless shelf. I use this to hold a few frequently used oils, or a decorative plate and ceramic bowl.

Wine Rack - Holds up to 3 wine bottles. We don't keep this up all the time, but trot it out when we're entertaining and want to take the kitchen from "cook's kitchen" to "Napa dining room" as it lends a very chic, festive feel to the unit.

Cookbook/iPad holder - Utilizing a second simple shelf on the rail for another use, I love this accessory purely for its functionality as previously noted. Having previously cracked my iPad screen with a falling spice jar (true story), this piece keeps your cookbook or ipad out of harm's reach. And, it's an excellent conversation piece as well - guests love it!

Kelly's using the ipad just before a dinner party

Single Utensil Jar - Raise your hand if your counters are currently housing the ubiquitous, cumbersome jar of utensils? Not mine! Previously the bane of my existence, my utensil jar is now conveniently suspended along my backsplash in close proximity to my cooktop for a quick grab of a wooden spoon or pasta ladle. More space to spread out the pizza dough on the countertop.

Knife block - It was, perhaps, most satisfying to rid our counters of the clunky, ill-shaped knife block that came with our knife set. This sleek element keeps knives safely shielded in a natural wood sheath, and behind a pane of glass. What I love most about this is the ability to quickly grab your exact intended knife, instead of playing a guessing game with knife handles.

Utensil Hooks - This is a beautifully simplistic row of 6 hooks intended for hanging utensils. Of course, I ran out and purchased a crisp, matching set of Chrome utensils with holes in the handles, but the collection has evolved into an eclectic hodge-podge of trinkets (such as my beloved Danish bottle opener) and novelty utensils from Anthropologie. And I quite like it that way.

Three-Cup Utensil Holder - This is another accessory that we don't keep out every day, but when we're expecting guests, I'll fill it with fresh flowers, or other decorative objects.

Paper-Towel Holder - My husband has an unearthly affinity for paper towels. This storage solution is much more favorable than an on-counter dispenser. We positioned it as the solo attachment on a short rail alongside the sink for quick, easy access.

One of the most valuable lessons I've learned from renovating my kitchen speaks to the benefits of having an open mind. Many elements that were designed and decided upon were based more on trusting my designer and a "sure, let's do it" attitude than an actual previously recorded need or desire. For example, I didn't truly know to what extent the Linero rail system would solve multiple cooking and lifestyle issues in the kitchen until it was installed, and as soon as I hung up those attachments, I knew there was no going back. The convenience and efficiency is remarkable, and the flexibility adds an exciting element of evolution and versatility to our kitchen.


Stay tuned for a later post where we show you a few different "outfits" for our Linero system. Linero does holidays, it does dinner parties, and most importantly, it puts the "fun" in function!


Thank you to partners: Kohler, Silestone, Bosch, Hafele, Kessebohmer, autokitchen and Kravet who donated products or services and who had the vision to know this renovation would use their products in interesting and creative ways!


Red Kitchens for Valentine's Day!

By: Susan Serra

I've been working on this for days in spurts of inspiration! I'm not a huge fan of Valentine's Day; I mean, it's sweet and all that, but I've never really been excited about it, but for some reason this year red kitchens are beckoning to me to be enthusiastically showcased and I'm happily running with it!

You've got to be gutsy to go red, no doubt about that. You can do red in accents or in bold swaths of visual volume. I happen to LOVE red countertops with medium toned wood. Seriously, this is one of the unsung great combinations if the right undertones coordinate. 

I think red in traditional kitchens, which I don't have featured here, look sort of farmhouse-like and add lots of cheerfulness to a country kitchen. 

Red in modern kitchens are clearly meant to be a design statement - the form of the cabinetry itself is the intrinsic design statement. Here we go!!!

Below: HTH kitchen showroom in Copenhagen

Below: Nolte

Below: Express-Kuechen

Below: Marazzi Design

Below: Creativ, Euphoria

Below: Ballerina kitchen display

Below: Poggenpohl kitchen showroom in London

Happy Valentine's Day!!!


Aamanns-Copenhagen - Scandinavian Dining + Design in NYC

Last Friday I was FINALLY able to go to Aamanns-Copenhagen - the authentic Danish restaurant (which also has takeout availability) in New York's Tribeca. Aamaans has been mostly finished for over a year except for a few mechanical issues in the building which took forever to resolve - and I have been waiting impatiently for its opening!

Having a lifelong familiarity with Danish cuisine both from my own childhood in the US, my family in and around Copenhagen and via countless trips to Denmark, I have a deep emotional connection to the wonderful flavors and textures of the food. And, they are wonderful! But, the food is only part of the experience of dining at Aamanns.

The design of the restaurant is beautiful. Here's what you might feel when you enter the restaurant:

comfort  - surrounded by the natural textures and materials

light spirited - via the expanse of white surfaces, furnishings and huge window which brings in lots of north facing natural lighting

engaged  - with the organic feel of the artwork

relaxed - with the casual nature of the bar

inspired - by the collection of beautiful, yet simple, every day objects on shelving and on tables AND by the wonderful, super fresh, food

All of the elements work together to effectively create a comfortable, happy, yet stimulating feeling. The natural materials and textures beautifully merge the Scandinavian style with the vibe of its location - Tribeca. 

The design of the room has a straight forward and functional feeling to it, but it's the beauty captured in the function, i.e. choice of materials, that the Scandinavians do, not only well, but to perfection which so often translates into a straight path toward comfort-both physically experienced and visual.

A few words from Sanne Ytting, founder and owner of Aamanns-Copenhagen: 

"The space is designed by the young talented Danish designer from Copenhagen, Anders Buck Faaborg.
Chairs: Fritz Hansen
Lamps: Mater,
Bodum, Holmegaard, MENU, By Nord, Sort of Coal, Anne Black, are also represented at Aamanns-Copenhagen.
The overall goal was for me to create a piece of Denmark in Manhattan, a feel of being somewhere in Denmark.. clean design, elegant but still warm feel....
The art on the walls are made by the famous Danish artist, Peter Max-Jakobsen - we do rotating exhibits every 4 months in a collaboration with Kim Jørgensen, Oxholm Galleries in Copenhagen."

 Here's how this look can translate into a kitchen design - it's so easy!

  • A foundation of white
  • Natural stained wood floors - #2 oak is just fine rather than a perfect wood with no knots
  • Modern chairs
  • A touch of stainless and/or glass to bring in a functional feeling
  • Organic elements such as pieces of nature, handmade ceramics, textiles and so on
  • Simple, beautiful forms
  • Good natural lighting

Scandinavian style is not only one interpretation, it can be nudged in many different directions. As so many of us are inspired by hotels, restaurants and other public places, I thought the style of this warm space might inspire, which can translate easily into one's home.

I've been inspired and comforted by both the food and the design - very much so! Aamanns-Copenhagen serves breakfast, lunch and dinner AND you can make reservations online as well.


Gloss + Color Blocking Kitchen Design Trends - LivingKitchen 2013

Continuing my (enthusiastic) march toward sharing the many trends that I spotted at IMM Cologne's LivingKitchen, today's two trends which I saw quite well represented are:

  • Gloss cabinetry
  • Color blocking in cabinetry

Cool, right? They definitely are two hip trends, often mixed up with other kitchen design trends that I listed in my first post on this show.

There is no doubt that nearly every European cabinet manufacturer puts their most creative foot forward in an effort to present eye-catching displays - and it certainly works, like a magnet to design lovers! Well designed, tasteful, cabinet designs are very enjoyable to see, and to learn from too - always, to learn from. Part of the learning process is to look for design attributes which "speak" to you, adding to your global (as in overall) view of design. At some point soon, I will share what I discovered that spoke to me personally. 

To my eye, these kitchens are uncluttered, which gives an opportunity for a design to be fully appreciated. While I would not say these trends were mainstream, they were quite prominant.




Of course, committing to color could be risky, depending how it's designed into the kitchen. If designed into the kitchen in a way that could be temporary, which is possible, it could be an easy "out" to replace one section of cabinetry, should you get tired of it. In that scenario, put that chartreuse section of cabinetry in the garage, basement, or other area to add to household storage needs.

Some design decisions are the type where, once you are on the "other side" of the decision, which happens during installation, you don't always know exactly how you will feel. That's surely where a design professional can reduce the anxiety by providing expertise and drawings to work it through as completely as possible. I definitely think many of these designs are innovative, bold, and worthy of study. 



Kitchen Cabinet Trends - IMM Cologne LivingKitchen 2013

SO! Now the fun part starts as I begin a series of follow-up posts to my initial breakdown of kitchen design trends I spotted while at IMM Cologne LivingKitchen a couple of weeks back. The first category to focus on is cabinetry style. Without further ado, the gorgeous images!

Cabinetry Style 

Below: Without equivocation, neutrals remain the stronghold of today's cabinet finishes. White painted or laminate cabinetry, light woods (more than I've previously seen in the past several years) and greige dominate. Black cabinetry is well on the periphery, as are dark wood finishes.

What do you think of these styles? Due to this image-heavy post on just the first kitchen design trend noted, I'll leave it here for now and will be covering all of the trends noted as quickly as possible!


International Kitchen Design 2013 - Introduction to IMM Cologne

Attending the Living Kitchen fair in Cologne, Germany, as a special guest of BLANCO and member of BLANCO's Design Council, is the equivalent of closing your eyes as you prepare to go to sleep and soon after, entering dreamland - kitchen dreamland!

The kitchen dream is intense, one of those really vivid dreams; it takes you to wonderful new frontiers in kitchen design and technology. There is beauty in many forms, you're surrounded by great people, many of whom are real life friends! This kitchen dreamland, Living Kitchen, is an international fair, showcasing kitchen products from 20 countries and takes place in 11 halls, set up like a campus.

For the moment, I'll share a few fun images of large, graphic, design elements that are part of a booth's design as well as accessories that embellish an individual kitchen display to get us warmed up for the posts coming shortly!

At last count, and this is probably close to the final count, I see that I took 1,744 images, with possibly a small amount of more images to count.

I worked this show as I do all shows-with a hunger to find common threads in different product and lifestyle categories among hundreds of displays. And, I love the process of the hunt and discovery!! 

Just prior to arriving in Germany, I spent 3 days in Copenhagen to visit family, collect my Scandinavian magazines that I love so much (19 of them, this time) and run through a number of showrooms to see the latest in Scandinavian design, which I will compare to what I saw in Germany. I have about 650 gorgeous images from those few days - more, beautiful, discoveries!!


I've already categorized all of my images, looked through them to find those common (mainstream) threads, uncovered some peripheral trends, and evaluated a bunch of products and/or design elements that qualify for "the cool factor" which I will also show...and more. There is a wealth of information and images to come, so stay tuned!!


So much more eye candy to come!


BLANCO Sinks & Faucets At Living Kitchen 2013

Just a few days ago, I returned from my trip to the fabulous Living Kitchen international kitchen show at IMM Cologne in Germany. This was my second trip to the Living Kitchen show at the invitation of BLANCO. This time around I paid my own way (except for a few fabulous dinners with the BLANCO team) because I wanted additional flexibility in my schedule while there...not that there wasn't an ample amount of free time-I just wanted complete freedom...so of course, I ended up attending nearly every event!

One section of BLANCO's dramatic booth!

I am a member of the BLANCO Design Council, which is truly an honor, as I have the opportunity to contribute to shaping product design and strategy from time to time. BLANCO, while a global brand, has a corporate culture that in my experience with the company over a number of years, feels like a small, local, company (a good one!) The CEO, Achim Schreiber, greets, chats with and listens to anyone and everyone in a casual, friendly, way. I didn't realize who he was when I was chatting with him last week. I thought he might be a local BLANCO distributor or a regular, friendly, guy who had something to do with BLANCO till I found out later. He's relaxed, easy going, friendly and a great listener-a lovely man.

All others connected to BLANCO-in Europe, Canada, US and elsewhere whom I've met over time, are also every bit as friendly and positive from my experience. I have to say, having an interest in "corporate culture", I often observe and try to figure out a company's vibe over time, by connecting the dots from different types of communications and other experiences. I'm convinced that the values of a corporate culture, as has been said before by others, travel from the top down on roads that are either positive, negative, fearful, confused, apathetic, passionate, good enough and so on. BLANCO's U.S. team, a truly great group of people, has a genuine dedication to, and belief in the brand that is remarkable, but let me also say, very well placed.

From my point of view, BLANCO, the corporation, takes the positive, socially intelligent, and passionate paths - from the top down - to create an absolutely superb range of products that has that desirable mix of precision engineering and beauty. BLANCO's products are at once on trend and reflective of a classic modern design which renders them timeless. BLANCO does a whole lot of things right. They know their customer...very well.

Ok, time to see some of the gorgeous products that I shot from the show floor. Some products are not available in the US, many are, but the point here is to help you experience that special mix of design and engineering. Take a look at swoon-worthy kitchen sinks and faucets!

Above: The new BLANCOLIAN kitchen faucet

Above: Note the understated, elegant color, Truffle, the continuity of the flowing lines of the drainboard and the stainless steel rack, the simplicity of the drain cover, and the overall form of this top mount sink.

Above: BLANCO's new faucet, BLANCOHOT, that supplies both near boiling water as well as normal hot and cold water from a single spout

Above: Simply, precision stainless steel sink and faucet

Above: A sink with a beautiful form featuring an edge with an interesting, modern dimension

Above: A beautiful island in BLANCO's booth - note the faucet that can be lowered to the sink surface and covered with the cutting board - flexible design

Above: Seamless, stunning, stainless steel

Above: Another shot of this fully integrated, elegant stainless steel BLANCO SteelArt sink and countertop

Above: A new faucet by BLANCO which is easy to operate-ideal for universal design purposes by twisting the soft black section back and forth and side to side to operate flow and temperature

Above: A new take on mixing materials - note the stainless steel trim, the indestructible Silgranite material in the sink and coordinating finishes in the faucet - elegant

Above: BLANCO's new color, Cinder, with matching color on the faucet as well as a useful sink, sectioned off by a lower separation for design flexibility, once again

Above: BLANCO SteelArt, useful and beautiful - I could see this paired with a wood countertop for those who are fearful of mixing sinks with wood tops

Above: Simply, a close up of that precision engineering - I happen to really love BLANCO's use of stainless and matte colors on their faucets

I hope you have enjoyed these shots and that they communicate BLANCO's dedication to quality and design!



Bosch Appliances + BLANCO = The Perfect Couple

The two German brands, Bosch and Blanco, came together logically and flawlessly throughout the new Bosch, Thermador, and Gaggenau showroom in Irvine, California. I was invited, along with others from the media, to attend the opening of this big, beautiful, state of the art showroom.

The reception area of the Bosch/Thermador/Gaggenau showroom

Two words: German Engineering. It's immediately apparent how perfectly these two brands go together aesthetically, not to mention their beautiful, precise, engineering-the fit and finish is superb. 

But, here's the thing -  although the Bosch portion of the showroom is quite minimalist and of wholly modern design, if you look past that, it's easy to see that both of these brands' products (most of them) can transition easily and logically to a range of kitchen design themes, from modern to traditional and beyond. Some faucets are more clearly suited to one style or another. Others play very well in a variety of styles.

For the price point, you get a WHOLE lot of style, substance, precision and performance. More pretty pictures from this fabulous showroom...

Did you know that Bosch has a slide in range? Allows the design of a clean backsplash

Note the sink cutout - it's interesting to see the sink section. I like that look.

Blanco and Bosch are the happy couple!

Sleek, simply designed built-in appliances

Note the small stainless sink detail surrounding the countertop cutout - cool

My absolute FAVE combination of Blanco faucet finishes and I love Blanco's silgranite sink-talk about performance!

Perfection in the details

Try this combination - Truffle (color) and a traditional Blanco faucet

I always love a cooktop and under cabinet oven combination-so elegant

Note the lower divider in the sink and the rich, beautiful, faucet finish

A combination kitchen/display area for multiple appliances

Yes, Blanco does a stainless apron sink + the beautiful, sculptural Culina faucet

Can you see the quality shine through in these pictures?



Electrolux Kitchen Appliances - Design Competition

I had the privilege of being among an impressive group of design professionals serving as one of the judges for the Electrolux kitchen design competition, "The Kitchen Reimagined." We met in New York City in November at the offices of Interior Design magazine. 

Coming from different design disciplines, with me being the only kitchen design specialist, we dissected each submission from the global group of competition finalists.

Passionate dialogue, active listening in appreciation of all views of the design professionals in attendance and some open second guessing in search of verifying our instincts brought us closer to a smaller group of finalists. Time spent seeking to understand the points of view of all entrants eventually put the focus on the top 5 winners in the order we deemed appropriate. 

The entries to The Kitchen Reimagined competition were, in a word, inspirational - and that is the spirit with which we approached our work. Spirit, imagination and inspiration were celebrated attributes in seeking the best kitchen design submissions. Interior Design Editor in Chief, Cindy Allen, was our fearless leader for the day. 

For me, participation in this competition as a judge was a privilege and an honor - and a whole lot of fun too. I think you will find much excitement in these kitchen designs which seamlessly surround Electrolux appliances. Very cool stuf.



Poggenpohl Kitchen Showroom

During a recent trip to London, I had the opportunity to spend some quality time at Poggenpohl’s Waterloo kitchen showroom. This London trip was arranged courtesy of Blog Tour 2011, an idea conceived by Veronika Miller, founder of Modenus, to bring design bloggers to the London Design Festival. Luckily for me, a visit to a Poggenpohl kitchen showroom was on our agenda!

Following are interesting design ideas that I spotted at the showroom – and check out the Blanco sinks!

Below, highly textured wood cabinetry paired with sleek white and stainless steel-take a look at the lucite dining chairs and glass table-cool!

poggenpohl 1

Below, I'm thinking that, after removing the third bottle of wine during dinner, this higher position of the wine refrigerator should prove to be useful!

poggenpohl 7

poggenpohl 2

Below, a crisp/tailored undermount sink and separate drainboard by Blanco. I love the look of the separate pieces and the recycling bins below are perfectly situated.

poggenpohl 8

Below, another Blanco sink and interesting countertop shapes and forms.

poggenpohl 5

blanco sink 2

Below, note the difference in countertop thicknesses - the island is thick, the opposite countertop is thin - quite interesting to change it up.

poggenpohl 3

Below, exploiting horizontal lines...

poggenpohl 9

Below, sleek white cabinetry, playing with volume...


Below, on trend neutral, flesh tone shades in textured wood juxtaposed with sleek, glossy, cabinetry.

I have more images of this beautiful showroom I will share, but in the meantime, thank you to those at the Poggenpohl Waterloo showroom for giving us such a warm welcome!


Copenhagen Design Week 

A fantastic collection of talks, exhibitions, showrooms, design tours and more, Copenhagen Design Week covered every area of both beautiful and socially responsible design. I've gone to design shows in quite a few countries including many shows in the US on a regular basis.

Honestly, I've never been so inspired, never have been so touched both personally and professionally, as I have been by attending this series of exhibitions. It was more than a design exhibition, it culminated with a reawakened design philosophy within my brain and my soul. The Index Awards, at which I was present at the Opera House, was a centerpiece of the week. Please read more about the Index Awards.

This is a very long post, but these words by the Acting CEO of the Danish Design Center touched me in a significant way, and I hope you can take 10 minutes or less to read through this piece to capture its beautiful and important meaning. In its entirety:

Thank you so much Aura/Ida Corr for the lovely song and for creating the right atmosphere.

Your Royal Highness, ladies and gentlemen,

I offer you all a warm welcome to the Copenhagen Design Week.

For the second time, Copenhagen Design Week welcomes international designers, architects, CEOs, design managers, researchers and students to six days devoted to design.

As we kick off this week of great design events – I think three questions needs to addressed:

  1. Why design?
  2. What is design?
  3. How can design help?


Why design?

What is the importance of design? Why should we bother? What is it that design can do for you? For me? For all of us?

Society is changing and the world as we know it is slowly turning upside down. We face new challenges and opportunities. Our life expectancy is growing and so is the world population. The Western welfare systems are under pressure while the middle classes are booming in Brazil, Russia, India and China. Resources are dwindling while demand is growing and the whole economy is under reconstruction.

In short, we need to think…

The facts of the modern, global society call for action. We cannot address new challenges with traditional solutions. And we cannot wait for someone else to take action.

All of us – nations, global communities, companies and individuals – need to think – and to design new solutions for our longer and safer and cleaner lives.

It is time to design the world we want to live in, and anyone interested in form, function, shape and seduction should pay attention.


But what is design?

Magazines – and the popular belief – will tell you, that design is all about beautiful things. And this is absolutely right. Beauty lies in form and function, and beauty lies in great design…. In Jaguars and Egg Chairs, in Yves Saint Laurent dresses and Erik Magnussen’s jug. Beauty lies in intelligent solutions. Beauty lies in Novo Nordisk’s insulin pen that empowers people with diabetes. Beauty lies in the fact that they are no longer patients. But people.

Beauty lies in products and solutions that help us become better people. And design can really do that. Design can really change who we are, what we do and how we behave.

Smart phones are not making us smarter, but they are changing the ways in which we navigate and interact in our daily lives. They are changing our physical and social behaviour.

We are a designing species, and the designs we make design us in return. This basic understanding is, I believe, the central element in the Danish design DNA.

The first golden age of Danish design coincided with the building of the welfare state in the 50s and 60s. The chairs, the lamps, the cutlery, the buildings were all part of an effort to create new ways of human interaction. Danish design has always been intimately linked to our humanistic and democratic traditions: The traditions of Folk High Schools and Co-ops; the tradition of sustainable solutions and pragmatic products; the tradition of designing for the community and of social inclusion.

We are at the beginning of a second golden age of Danish Design. And this time we are not alone, because the whole world is at the beginning of a golden age of design.

Today, design is much more than styling; much more than form and function. Today design is an instrument for developing innovative, competitive and sustainable products and solutions in order to meet the complex challenges of today’s society.

A holistic grasp of the big picture is a key condition for creating meaningful design solutions.  The humanistic tradition has for decades been the basis of Danish product design, and it is now a driving force in the role of the designer in a complex world.

So, design has come to mean more than giving form; it is increasingly becoming a strategic element in innovation processes in the private as well as in the public sector. To help this process along, the Danish Government last year established the Design 2020 Committee with the vision of making Denmark a society where the use of design is integrated at all levels to improve the quality of peoples’ lives, creating economic value for businesses and improving efficiency and quality in the public sector.


How can design help?

It is very simple, really. The essence of design is thinking human. The essence of design is making products and solutions for human beings with minds and bodies and desires and aspirations and social needs and wishes.

Design is not the answer to every question we can ask. But it is my experience that if you involve designers in your search for answers, the answers will involve thinking human. Beauty lies in this.

Talk in an antique boat given by IKEA - participants on each side of center tableI am proud and happy to welcome you all to Copenhagen Design Week. The programme is full of beautiful solutions to complex challenges, and they will show us ways to a more sustainable future based on the ability and the willingness to Think Human.

Copenhagen Design Week explores and raises awareness of the impact of design, architecture and the environment on human life. In a world of constant change, design has the potential to transform ideas and social values, meet desires and needs – and, not least, create good business outcomes.

We firmly believe that Copenhagen Design Week will show us the way to a more sustainable future based on the ability and the willingness to Think Human. There is plenty of work to do – but the future starts now.

Dance with the Egg Chair at Official Opening of Copenhagen Design WeekLet me conclude by pointing out three things you cannot miss during the Design Week.

First of all - go to Kvæsthusmolen by The Royal Danish Playhouse on the Copenhagen harbor front. Here you will find the Design Zone, which is the venue for the main exhibitions during the Copenhagen Design Week.

Here you will see how design and architecture meet local and global challenges.

Secondly – Kvæsthusmolen is also the venue for the INDEX: exhibition, and you will be able to study the winning projects. The INDEX: exhibition illustrates that design has the environmental, social, and economically sustainable tools to make the world a safer and better environment for people.

And naturally, I recommend a visit to our exhibition right here, in the Danish Design Centre. The exhibition, Challenge Society, pinpoints the role of designers in solving the grand challenges of our society.

HRH Prince Frederik applauding enthusiastically after a performance at the official opening of Copenhagen Design Week (yes, he was one row in front of me!)But please be aware – that this is only a fraction of all the exciting experiences that lie ahead during the Copenhagen Design Week.

I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the Danish Ministry of Economic and Business Affairs and the Danish Enterprise and Construction Agency for supporting the Copenhagen Design Week.

An essential aspect of creating and carrying out an event such as the Copenhagen Design Week is to establish strong partnerships. Therefore, I would also like to give a warm thanks to our main partners: IKEA and Nokia. We deeply appreciate your financial support and your expertise on design and your contributions during the Copenhagen Design Week.

Finally, please let me offer my sincere thanks to the Copenhagen Design Week team. You make me proud.

Danish Design Center immediately following the opening of Copenhagen Design WeekI bid you all a warm welcome and encourage you to seek out some of the many exciting design experiences that Copenhagen is brimming with this week.

Now it is my huge pleasure to give the floor to Mr. Frank Jensen, the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen.

After that, Tina Højlund of the Royal Ballet will perform the Egg Chair Ballet, followed by Aura, who will take us back to where we started with one of her songs.



Modern Kitchen

As a random feature, I'd like to show you a kitchen that would be interesting to talk about. In this case, it's a modern kitchen. 

It's always interesting to dissect the foundation and other elements that make up the framework of the design. There are several ways to "see" this kitchen. Images by the ridiculously beautiful magazine, Rum.

Below: Let's look at the largest view of the space. It's very strong, isn't it? Both the wood and the white, to me, are equally strong. This modern kitchen is striking in its simplicity with its super clean lines. Yet the texture of the wood makes a very striking...yet quiet...statement. It's strong, but sort of offers a feeling of security. An exciting mix of contrast on traditionally opposite planes (white used horizontally, wood used vertically) the white, larger in proportion and supplemented by furnishings, indeed serves as a paradoxical foundation. 

Below: THIS shot of this kitchen is a wow, no question about it. Can we achieve any more of a minimalist design? The shot itself is stunning. The wood texture and color radiates warmth and elegance. Clearly, the design is art...a functional and living sculpture.

Below: Well, the modern kitchen plot thickens! Now we see that this is a loft type space. A very open floorplan. The white continues from floor to ceiling to bedding to accessories. Two elements - wood and white. Strong rectilinear shapes focuses the eye toward (in one visual sense) floating and dominating vertical planes, a monument to the most important element of the space - the beauty of the wood. 

I must say that I'm not on board with living in this environment. It's not for me, but I ask these questions: Is the design is a reflection of the designer or the client? Is it a monument to the designer's ego or was it a concept the client was interested in experiencing? The origin of a design like this is of interest to me. Of course, one has to visualize the space with the tools of living. Are there children in the home? Clothing, books, toys, papers, all must have a concealed home and time taken to store used items when finished using them...or else. 

Can one live a 100% completely clutterless life? Seems a requirement for this type of living. Sure, I'd love to experience living in this way, but, as a second home, not a primary home and even so, I'd probably have to "test" it by renting a similarly conceptual home to see if it's a fit for how I live. It's living, functional, art, and it is quite amazing and wonderful, but the paradox and questions remain.

So, what do you think? How does this space make you feel? Would you like to live in these spaces, visualizing everyday living?