Made in Denmark

In just four years the Danish contingent has increased its floor space at ICFF 27-fold, from 300 square feet to the current 8,250. The numbers of companies participating has increased from six to approximately 30. And though the roster is impressive—including designs by such legends as Arne Jacobsen (Fritz Hansen and Stelton) and Hans Wegner (Carl Hansen), as well as by vibrant newcomers (Normann Copenhagen and Dnmark)—you could be forgiven for overlooking them the last two years, when the group’s booth sat in the shadow of the Italian pavilion. The Danes crisp booth faded into the “woodwork” of the Italians’ white wall.

This year, instead of a single row of booths, the group has claimed a large rectangle of floor space that spreads across several aisles. In addition to being unified by a solid white floor, the group resides under a giant red banner that reads “Made in Denmark.”

“We have to accept that the Italians are great,” says Mikael Hoilund, who designed the booth and whose company, Dnmark, is represented at the Fair. “We are hoping that we bring traffic to each other. “But Jesper Kamp de Fonss, the Royal Danish Consulate General representative, points out that the motive wasn’t exactly symbiotic. “It’s about wanting to make our own statement and wanting to spread out, instead of being in a long alley next to the Italian booth,” he says. “It looks better this way.”

Within the open space that the group calls a “pavilion,” individual companies are demarcated by eight-foot-tall white boxes that serve as storage closets, signage, and museum-like backdrops for product. “We positioned them to create flow and—for the bigger booths—small settings,” Hoilund says. “The Wishbone chair is placed in front of one, and it’s beautiful. They could have only that wall and that black chair, and it would be a beautiful statement for Carl Hansen.”

The Danes had a couple of other tricks up their sleeves this year, namely live music and beer during a two-hour party at the end of the opening day.

So why the big push this year? “There’s a growing interest from Danish companies that want to come to the U.S.,” Kamp de Fonss says. “They’re definitely a growing interest in the ICFF, which has proven itself over the years,” adds Hoilund. “The quality gets better and better.”

Apparently, so does the quality of the Danish contingent. “We already know what we’re doing next year. All the exhibitors are going to be back, and we are going to be bigger and stronger, with a completely different booth,” Kamp de Fonss says. “We won’t do the same thing twice.”

* The Royal Danish Consulate General won the 2004 ICFF Editors Award for Furniture