Hygge warning: What to see as Denmark descends on Beijing Design Week

China's leading international design platform returns with a new guest city

Image: Superkilen in Copenhagen. Credit: Forgemind Archimedia via Wikimedia Commons
Denmark consistently ranks among the top countries in the world for happiness, often attributed to the philosophy of hygge. It's a nebulous term usually translated as 'cosy', but one which is perhaps better rendered as 'intentional intimacy' – living spaces and experiences that allow for social connections of the highest order. With Copenhagen as the guest city for this year’s Beijing Design Week, take a moment to cosy up and connect with some of the events on offer this autumn.

Beijing Design Week runs from September 22 to October 5 at various locations across Beijing. Head to bjdw.org/en for full details.
Visit downtown Copenhagen

Visit downtown Copenhagen

'Living is Giving' is the theme for this year's Danish-led exhibitions. Part of this focus will be on urban sustainability and liveable, positive city-planning – something the Danes are extremely skilled at. In 30 years they have transformed Copenhagen, once a city in decline, into one of the happiest (and wealthiest) in the world. To display this urban renewal and the Danes' wholesome outlook on life, the 79 Gas Tank in 751 D-Park will be transformed into an atmospheric Copenhagen downtown, showcasing the best of Danish design, technology, food and culture.

The 'Living is Giving' philosophy will extend beyond the Danish downtown with both short- and long-term projects that will hopefully leave a more lasting impact on Beijing. Also in 751 D-Park, the Copenhagen-based artist Thomas Dambo will erect his Happy Wall installation, a large-scale piece made up of over 1,728 wooden pixels which can be used by the audience to create and share their own designs and personal messages, on a scale normally reserved for huge global brands.   

Elsewhere, the Danish Cultural Centre in 798 will be hosting a diverse series of exhibitions, lectures, concerts and film and Scandi-noir TV screenings. Excitingly, this will feature the China premiere of the Academy Award-winning The Danish Girl as part of their Diversity/Dignity, LGBT and Transgender Rights programme.   

Finally, the City of Copenhagen is participating in an urban renewal and renovation project in Qinglong Hutong, Dongcheng district. Here they will proffer solutions and alternatives to some of the problems facing Beijing's highly urban environment and set up a new Sino-Danish innovation centre for future creative exchange.

Image: courtesy of BJDW Copenhagen

Hear sounds and stories of Beijing

Hear sounds and stories of Beijing

The Baitasi Remade project returns to its historic hutong location at BJDW with an eclectic mixture of projects focused on the hygge of personal connection, individual experience and the urban environment. These somewhat ambiguously titled 'Neighbourhood Warming Initiatives 2018', include forums on community building, displays of traditional Beijing crafts and a courtyard-based interactive community theatre, providing a platform for the residents of old Beijing to share their stories of the neighbourhood and city.

More abstract expressions of the Beijing experience come from London-based company Musicity, which creates 'architecture-inspired music and sound art'. On September 22, Baitasi Remade will showcase the pieces created for Beijing in a one-off concert. The founder of the project, BBC radio DJ Nick Luscombe, will also be present to discuss the development of Musicity and his experience with the architectural sounds of China.

Explore the best of Chinese design

Explore the best of Chinese design

Whilst Danish design has long been considered among the best in the world, young homegrown creatives are putting modern Chinese design on the map with their own unique design language. The foundation of this language, which often builds upon a long tradition of Chinese design and craftsmanship, has been given special focus this year with the launch of the opaquely named 'Intangible Cultural Heritages Design'.

The aim of this initiative is to celebrate traditional Chinese arts and crafts as well as the creative dialogues between styles old and new. Events organised for BJDW include a talk at the Palace Museum and an exhibition at the National Agricultural Center showcasing traditional crafts and their contemporary design iterations from all around China.

By Helena Poole

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