The Danish Design tradition has often been celebrated for its aesthetics, craftsmanship and beauty.
But underneath the beauty lay stories reaching far beyond aesthetics into design of coherent societal models.
The highly recognised Danish Design artifacts were not designed merely to please the eye. Arne Jacobsen's houses were never built to look stunning. Their form derived from a profound wish to provide more light, better hygiene, more space and better air for humans. This desire of Danish design is linked closely to the larger societal organisations in Denmark; among these the Danish cooperative movement, the folk high schools and the credit unions deserve mentioning.
Today the forefront of design in Denmark is largely focused on addressing the challenges of a welfare society growing older, embracing new technology and being more and more connected to, dependent on and challenged by the globalised world.
In public/private partnerships design thinking is applied to solutions ranging from making the most of waste, to developing a cycling infrastructure, inspiring other cities to call it Copenhagenising when they develop a cycling infrastructure. At the same time we are designing hospital services, products and systems for seven new national hospitals while also attending to the challenges of warming our cities and keeping them cool under CO2 pressure; meeting the rising demand for clean water while cleaning the harbours to allow recreational harbour swimming pools, and tending to our senior citizens while also providing a framework for our future growth via the educational system. All this is done by design.
The Danish Design Centre (DDC) is Denmark's knowledge centre for design. The Danish Design Centre carries out a variety of activities such as workshops, inspiration and feedback meetings, courses, conferences and exhibitions. Through these activities the participating companies gain a deeper understanding of the potential of design as a tool for innovation. DDC also has a focus on communicating sustainable design solutions which may inspire other companies.
There will be fewer people to take care of the elderly, waste is accumulating, CO2 emissions have never been greater and the welfare model is under pressure. There is plenty to tackle, and there is a need for new, creative solutions. It is not about designing new objects for the world but about finding new ways of designing the world. There is a need for new designs of systems and services that can lead society, the environment and businesses into the future.
Design can provide simple answers to complex challenges and in that way help create new inspiration for the pressurised welfare state and the threatened environment, while creating better solutions for the users.