With their practical, democratic eye for detail the Danes (OK, with help from their Scandinavian cousins) have conquered the applied arts, not least among them furniture and interior goods design
And Copenhagen is a great city to experience it. As you might expect in the home town of dozens of world-renowned interior designers Copenhagen is a terrific place to find interesting, quirky furniture and household odds and sods.
Just walk into pretty much any hotel lobby, restaurant or cafe and you're likely to eat from, sit on or enjoy looking at the work, classic or contemporary, of a local designer. Happily you can also shop for much of this stuff too.
Some neighbourhoods specialise in particular things. The city centre has a decent selection of classic interiors shops, Ravnsborrgade in Nørrebro is lined with interesting antique and bric a brac shops, while Bredgade is home to the very high end interiors shops and high-spec furniture places and kitchen outfitters.
Silverware and ceramics
Firmly on the tourist shopping map but still worth exploring, sister store to the Illum department store, Illums Bolighus (Amagertorv 10; +45 3313 7181) stocks some very high end Danish-designed interiors and furnishings including silverware, ceramics, tableware, glass and furniture. It's almost next door to Copenhagen Porcelain (Amagertrov 6; +45 3313 7181), which is in turn next door to the famous Georg Jensen (Amagertorv 4; +45 3311 4080) silverware flagship store.
For great gift ideas, seek out the beautiful, often one-off ceramics and glassware at Stilleben Ceramics (Læderstræde 14; +45 3391 1131; www.stilleben.dk) made by the shop’s owners. Hay CPH (Pilestræde 29; +45 9942 4400; www.hay.dk) and CasaShop (Store Regnegade 2; +45 3332 7041; www.casashop.dk) are both must visits for cool interiors items.
Furniture and ‘upcycled’ knick knacks
Designer Zoo (Vesterbrogade 137, Vesterbro; +45 2681 1826) is a young designers’ collective and a great place to find one-off items of furniture, jewellery, glass or ceramics. In a similar vein, Workshop Copenhagen (Studiestræde 16; +45 8838 8427; www.workshop-cph.dk), is a great place to go to find lots of original work as well as ‘upcycled’ knick knacks. Upcycling is essentially revamping interiors items by giving them a 21st-century overhaul which often completely reimagines a piece of furniture, bowl or piece of artwork to give it a new look or even a new purpose.
A taxi-ride from the city centre are two more stores that you really should not miss. Normann’s massive showroom (Østerbrogade 70; +45 3555 4459; www.normann-copenhagen.com) is a must visit for some exclusive furniture, lamps, kitchenware, perfume and other homewares. If you only visit one interiors/design place I reckon it should probably be this one. Slightly further afield still is Paustian (Kalkbrænderiløbskaj 2, Østerbro; +45 3916 6565) a massive Scandinavian interior design store featuring designs from the likes of Aalto, Eames, Jacobsen and Starck and occupying a magnificent Jørn Utzon-designed warehouse in the docks area.
If you're after specialist categories here's a quick rundown of some other notable stores in central Copenhagen:
- Gregory Pepin (Bredgade 22; +45 3311 5252) is a specialist stockist of antique Jensen silver.
- Holmegaard (Amagertorv 8, Strøget; +45 3312 4477) is a stockist of wonderful, delicate glassware.
- Le Klint (Store Kirkestræde 1; +45 3311 6663) - famous, classic, stylish and typically Danish, these concertina-style lampshades and other lamps make ideal (portable) gifts.
- Royal Copenhagen Porcelain (Amagertorv 6, Strøget; +45 3313 7181) offers expensive but classic porcelain, both practical and decorative and including the high-end Flora Danica line.
- Sølvkælderen (Kompagnistræde 1; +45 3313 3634) is another good option for lovers of antique silverware.
In the warmer months, open air flea markets spring up. While they vary in quality you may find some interesting bric-a-brac among the tat. Hunting grounds include Israels Plads, outside the town hall, (get up early for this if you want to bag a bargain), along Nørrebrogade, and Gammel Strand (good for antiques and period pieces) in the centre of Copenhagen. Ravnsborggade Loppemarked is also worth checking out. It's close to Copenhagen's lakes at the end of Nørrebrogade, where antiques predominate, as you'd expect given all the antique shops lining the street.
More expert advice on Copenhagen
Now for the bad news... Copenhagen’s shops ‘aint cheap. A sales tax of 25 per cent is hard to stomach and the designers here don’t exactly cut each other’s throats in a bid for sales. If you are eligible for a sales tax refund make sure you collect it on leaving the country. There's a refund office at the airport.
For suggestions on where to stay in Copenhagen, see my Copenhagen Hotels – Award winning expert hotel reviews, from cheap to luxury hotels in Copenhagen page.
Read my overview on Shopping in Copenhagen.