Wednesday 8 September 2021

D is for ...

Print of the Capital D engraving from Libellus Novus Elementorum Latinorum by Jeremias Falck after Johann Christian Bierpfaf, c. 1650, Rijksmuseum Collection
... is for

Danish Design

There's a generous smattering of C20th Danish Design to be found around the Pipistrello Casa, and fulsome as we are in our appreciation of the marvellous stuffs the Kingdom of Denmark produces, it is notwithstanding our never once visiting this diminutive and interesting land, nor any of its Nordic neighbours. I know! ...

Copenhagen's be-flagged Tower of
Christiansborg Palace, a.k.a. Borgen*

Why it is that we, and Australians in general, have such a love affair with things Danish? And I speak not just of the delicious breakfast pastries and butter and feta and cheesy whatnots. It's true that the residents of this faraway land make gorgeous and useful things, (and fabulous drama for the telly), but bonus points must go toward Our Mary one day being their Queen. Isn't she just lovely? 

Behold some Mary Magic:

Gala-ed up in 2017 in rubies and caped splendour
(And so complementary with the FWH Wallpaper)

On hat duty for last weekend's
Flag Day in Copenhagen

But with regard to the subject at hand, viz. Danish-Designed Doodads, prithee, Dear Reader, step this way for some long-lived lovelies, notable for being heavy on the Bang & Olufsen stuffs:

My first mobile telephone (a stubborn refusal to own such ugly things was melted away one Xmas!):

Behold the B&O foray into 2G Mobile Telephonery,
The <sob!> now-defunct "Serene" on her docking station

After around a dozen years (!!) of petite clamshell service,
Her beautiful wizardry now lives in Ornamental Retirement

You've already met our beloved Belgian Bakelite telephone, but here are her young Danish cousins:

With bonus D-is-for Daffodils

Umm, yup, another one,
Propping up a shelf of To-Be-Reads

Yes, three telephones for two people in this day and age does seem to be, ahem, excessive. A  bit like the Sewing Machine Situation (and I have some news on that mini mania - there's now a Clare!)

And of course, what landline/s is/are complete without an Answering Machine?

Lo! There is also some audio joy, going strong since Mr. P's 40th birthday :) :

But for another more low-tech Doodad (and I shall not provide a pic of the Danish Art Deco sideboard as I know not the designer's name and besides, the telly sits atop and thus makes for a prosaic composition):

A rather more thrilling midcentury Raadvad Bread Guillotine,
For your rye-bread slicing needs

Today's Flying With Hands model
Demonstrating the Raadvad's utility

And for something somewhat larger but still proximate to the roost, we have the fruits of the creative genius of just one of Denmark's famous architects, viz. Jørn Utzon:

No prizes for guessing

That I speak of the Sydney Opera House

From which these various vantage points

Show somewhat less than the usual throngs of pedestrians

Who at times recently

Were often outnumbered by these perambulators

Nota bene: There are also some words to be spoken of the D-is-for-Dutch-Documentary variety, but that shall come as a Part II to this sufficiently long post.

* I hear tell that the excellent political drama Borgen is coming back for a fourth series in 2022!

Image credits: 1: Rijksmuseum; 2, 4:; 3: via Pinterest; 12: Wikimedia Commons: all remaining: Flying With Hands


  1. Jørn Utzon was a heroic Danish architect who came to Australia after winning an international competition for the Sydney Opera House. I don't think Australia treated Utzon very well :( Yet when the Opera House was declared a World Heritage Site in 2007, the sails became the most well known bit of architecture anywhere. Perhaps the time has come to apologise to Denmark and to Uzton's family.

    1. JU's experience was such an Australian story, and is almost the stuff of nightmares for grand visionaries like him, dear Hels. We're still paying the price for the bureaucratic meddling, like the swapping over the theatres as an everyday for inst. I rather expect the official and proud celebrating of the final result by any chains-of-office wearer is as good as an apology as anyone could expect? Anyway, we plebs do love it, flaws and all :)

      Fun fact: Mr. P and I took one of those architectural tours around it not long ago and were surprised to be told that the sails are supposed to be clouds! But it's still hard to un-see sails.

  2. They may be red, they may be white, they may be Danish dynamite. However, "D" is, of course, also for Delight. My delight when detecting 19 Rankins in your shelves.

    1. Ha, and those 19 colourful spines do belie the rather sombre coloured interiors, dear Sean! They were an excellent Xmas present from Mr. P some years back and a full immersion into the dark and mostly wintry tales of Edinburgh was experienced laying about in the full bright glare of summer in Australia. I could probably find my way around Edinburgh in the wet & dark as a result, if ever needed!

    2. You are a very dangerous woman. Rebus would certainly appreciate.

    A BREAD SLICER..........can you imagine fixing a meal in that suit!?
    THE HEAT IS UPON US HERE IN CALIFORNIA...........I know spring has sprung down your way!A LOVELY D YOU SHARED WITH US TODAY!

    1. Thank you, dear Contessa, and I hunted high & low looking for another wee clamshell-styled telephone after the last 2G phone tower was switched off and I, as the last dinosaur customer in the land, heard my Serene go dead in my hand, but to no avail!!! The consolation to this first-world problem of which I do inconsequentially wail is that my photographic skills have improved out of sight by having a smartphone :)

      Spring has indeed sprung, for dealing with hay fever is the pastime du jour right now! And yes, you must always dress up when approaching your Raadvad. It's a house rule.

      ps: Rankin?? I did not realise. I was persuaded by the F in your address it was otherwise. xx

  4. I am a big fan of Danish design and architecture. The lines and curves are always very pleasing and never overdone.

    1. Dear Susan, isn't it lovely? If you ever like to browse the interwebs fantasy shopping, we have an appropriately-named interiors shoppe here, Great Dane, which is chockfull of contemporary Danish & Scandi design. There are lovely antique shoppes, too, that provide devotees with the necessary Art Deco to mid-Century Modern stuffs, which is more up our line.

  5. Many years ago (40-ish?) I heard that Denmark was changing it's official language to English. At the time they said that it would happen within 20 years, but I never heard any more about it. Do you know anything about this? Did it happen?

    1. That does sound a little unlikely, dear Cro! Although the number of Danes that speak impeccable English is a marvel. Indeed, watching shows like "Borgen", where your everyday actor skips seamlessly between Danish and English, then often French and Swedish and maybe throw in a bit of Icelandic or German to jazz it up a bit, can be truly impressive ... and shame-making!

  6. Dear Pipistrello, we must have met in another life!
    I am a huge fan (I never know whether one can say "big fan" in English - or if that means that one is obese :-) of Danish design - only yesterday I bought a beautiful moonlight yellow "to go cup" (of course with a very special trick to drink from it - but honestly, it is the design from Stelton that allured me. I see myself on the (very) long walks with the triplets in autumn - a hot tea in my "to go click cup" - and an innate lesson in aesthetics for the triplets :-)

    I have two beautiful lamps from Denmakt, and enjoy them every day.

    Do I see a long row of Ian Ranking on your bookshelf? If so: when I was in Edinburgh I met him in person and got a little interview from him, as I was writing on my (still not published) book about English (and ONLY English) detective TV series in Britain - a sort of opera-guide-style book for Germans, who always can only think of Midsomer Murder when you speak with them...

    "Your Mary" is an adorable, so beautiful and elegant woman!

    1. Big/huge for fandom both work, funnily enough, and for what reason I do not know, dear Britta, but it's nice to know we're kindred spirits in another department. And aesthetic lessons from chic Nanna cannot start too soon :)

      Lucky you for having met IR! No pressure, mind, but the world does need your guide to English detective TV series. And when it's translated to English, I'd love to have it sitting on the FWH sidebar as a Recent Read!

  7. I have been to Copenhagen and can assure you that it is very tasteful, even the red-light district where my cheap-for-Copenhagen-but-not-for-my-budget hotel was located, much to my surprise. I was there one June (decades ago), and dusk didn't arrive until around 4 a.m., followed shortly after by dawn. Copenhagen and Thessaloniki were the only two cities in the world (and I have traveled a lot) where I was refused a table at a restaurant because I was a woman dining alone. So I harbor a grudge that good architecture and sensible policies can't overcome. Also, a single ice cream cone at Tivoli Gardens (cheapest thing on the menu) cost as much as an entire meal in Paris. But yes, they do have a wonderful mix of buildings, some that seem to be made of wedding-cake icing and others with sleek, modern lines. And the consumer products are top notch.
    Re the guillotine: how does one cut bread with a smooth blade? Doesn't it just squish the bread? Serrated works better, no? Or is it that frighteningly sharp, and if so, how do you keep it sharpened? Also, the kitchen counter seems so the model simply very tall? Or have counters risen over the years?

    1. What an interesting Copenhagen visit you had, dear ToF! We've seen a fair bit of the city, courtesy of a diet of Danish telly over the years and would very much like to go one day, but are well-prepared to expect to be carrying a suitcase of pesos to have a proper grown-up time. An ice cream does not cut the mustard as a meal for me!

      The guillotine is designed for a dense dark bread and you're right, bread like a baguette or even just a sourdough-ish type does squish under the blade. But a stale lazy-girl-loaf or a dark rye bread just slices smoothly. I've not really attempted to sharpen it, but I imagine running a knife sharpener along it would make it more lethal than it is. Small and inquisitive fingers are not allowed near it and neither are large and distracted ones! Gravity and leverage are all it takes to remove a finger, I expect. And I did a little check in my own 1934 kitchen, whose benchtop is essentially unchanged in height and it looks like it's about the same as the pic. And in the doorway, I seem to stand about the same height, so you can probably take it that the FWH model is around 5'9" or 10" in shoes. It does look like the counter is very low, when you point it out, but then I must look just like this hausfrau when I'm fussing about in the kitchen.

  8. Nordic people appear to be born with an innate sense of style and design, even
    down to the colours that they use to paint the exterior of their homes. Love Scandi Noir, and especially enjoyed The Bridge series. I own a very early Georg Jensen silver bowl designed by Johan Rohde that I absolutely love.

    1. Of course, dear Rosemary, there is the world of Georg Jensen to drool over, as well. They make such lovely tableware and jewellery, and I'm a rather proud owner of an iconic watch. Your silver bowl must be a treasured piece. I don't mind a bit of silver cleaning as an occasional pastime as it gives you a nice opportunity to have a lingering look at beloved things.

  9. Eva (via email):

    What a delectable array of designs and images you have presented dear Pipistrello! You have brightened the start to my day!
    I refused to relinquish my old mobile phone ( not as delightful as yours) until it no longer functioned as I was adamant about it not being used for any other purpose than making a phone call. Sadly now with smartphones, there is no escape.
    What wonderful news that Borgen is returning! A favourite in our household and quite an insight into Danish life.
    Thank you

    1. Thank you, dear Eva! And now that we know "Borgen" is on the horizon, a revisit of the previous series will have to be done to be nicely prepared for it :)

      As for trusty old mobile phones, I could still today have been using mine if it wasn't for the pesky telecommunications companies physically shutting down 2G technology. It's rather dreary that otherwise happy customers have the landscape changed around them. I felt like I was the last 2G user in the land and had some engineer chasing me around the city, switching off the towers as I went past them!

  10. Great post reminding me of a one day visit - via Cunard's Queen Victoria - when we took the Baltic Cruise in 2014. I loved the shops and the busy, colorful waterfront of Nyhaven.
    Denmark's capital, Copenhagen has 1.5 million inhabitants, more than a quarter of the population of the entire country. . . . it was an interesting city.
    I've just pulled up the Borgen series on Netflix - we'll watch it as we enjoy international shows - especially the scenery - and it looks good. Thanks for the heads up.

    1. Dear Mary, lucky you to have even a day visit! I do look forward to one day getting to see this tiny country whose small population makes such an impression on the world in such interesting ways. Like the very good political drama which awaits you when you get around to "Borgen" - I hope you and Bob enjoy it!

  11. The Danes certainly know what they are doing when it comes to design. My mum gave my sister & me a Georg Jensen silver brooch each. My sisters was a flower ( smaller than mine ) and mine was a dove. My sister still has hers but I lost mine on holiday. It still makes me feel sad that I lost it…. I just have to think that someone else is enjoying it. XXXX

    1. Dear Jackie, you have a generous heart to hope someone is loving your lost brooch. And I hope your mum never knew what happened! I'm with you with the sense of loss over beloved things for I've had a couple of things slip through my fingers as a silly youth and still think of them, but it's ensured I've never lost even a hankie as an adult! xx

  12. I enjoyed reading all that and the pictures of your things of Danish design. I also like Borgen. X

  13. Just lovely, as always : ) The theme resonates as well... in my family we have a Debbie, Devyn, Daina and Diane! I adore the beautiful 'D' that beckons one in... I have a rubber stamp that is similar to emboss notecards, so pretty. And even more, J'adore the elegant clamshell cell... so sad to see the classics slip away. There is something romantic about the Netherlands, love the bright colors and practical designs, pleasing to the eye and practical. As always, a wonderful Pipistrello tour of curiosities, style, culture and miscellaneous wonders! Debbie

    1. Thank you, dear capital-D Debbie, for your very kindest of compliments! You don't hear so much these days about families who really like to have a bit of fun with given names, so it's nice to hear about yours.

  14. Lovely photos indeed!
    I hope someday to see the opera house.
    And Denmark - lovely people.

    1. Thank you, dear Ur-spo, and I hope you do, too!

  15. Oooh, another series of Borgen may be in the works? Sign me up! I love a good Scandi drama and I do love Danish design. The bread guillotine is really something. Off with its heel! (har-har)

    I recall when visiting Copenhagen for the first time in winter that all the cafes were lit with actual candles. Coming from tinder-central, I was both pleased and on edge. :D Candle-lit spaces do brim the hygge, do they not?

    Hope all is well with you and yours, P.x

    1. Candle-lit cafes do sound very hygge, dear witty Bea, and an ambience I should love to experience, too.

      How very nice to hear from you! All is well here, as I hope it is with you, and that you've been having a fine summer in your neck of the woods. xx


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