I had obsessed over The Apartment on 1stdibs for years and knew an IRL experience was tippy-top on my list. The store boasts a perfectly curated mix of colorful objects, textiles, and mid-century antiques, and it’s located just off of the canals of Copenhagen in the quaint Christianshavn district. It is all charmingly displayed in, well, an apartment, inclusive of a kitchen, bathroom, and light-filled rooms. It is cozy and intimate and very easily shoppable, as the setting makes it easy to imagine living with these gems in your own home.
Copenhagen Travel Guide
Photography by Line Klein
With its epicurean renaissance and minimal design aesthetic, Copenhagen is the perfect match for my dueling passions of food and decor — the city has been high on my bucket list for years and years. I recently returned from the royal tour of Copenhagen through the lens of Georg Jensen. I covered as much ground as possible on the trip, soaking up all of the architecture, history, design, food, art, and culture one can absorb in five days. I witnessed firsthand the artistry at the Georg Jensen silversmith studio, took in the brand’s legacy at the Jensen archives, explored the farmer’s markets, dined at revered restaurants, and experienced the crème de la crème of design and décor shops. With my whirlwind trip behind me, here is a little recap on the best the city has to offer, in my swoony but humble opinion.
I have never felt more immediately connected to any city than I did in Copenhagen. Perhaps it is how I engaged with the city — I traveled by bike, traversing the streets and observing the landscape, architecture, and nature as I rushed by. Commuting alongside the locals without a doubt allowed me to feel at home and in tune with the natural rhythm of the culture. And the Danes themselves are simply the warmest humans I have ever encountered — they welcomed me into their city with wide open arms, pride in their way of life, and a full heart.
I have never felt more immediately connected to any city than I did in Copenhagen. Perhaps it is how I engaged with the city — I traveled by bike...
Working together with Georg Jensen is a dream partnership, as we mirror one another’s core values with regard to style, design, and function. To be invited to their home city and welcomed into their silversmith studio to engage with the creative process behind their swooned-after tabletop, hollowware, and silver pieces was an exceptional experience.
The “Smithy”, as they call it, is the heart of the company. It houses 25 men and women who make a daily practice of quality, craftsmanship, and innovation in their work. I was so impressed by the focus and attention to detail that goes into each and every handmade piece.
Here I am in the Georg Jensen archives, the place where the company’s history is preserved. Archives such as this are rare — Georg Jensen is one of the few brands in Copenhagen to keep such a practice. This teapot and original sketch date back to 1905.
A core source of inspiration for Georg Jensen throughout the years has been nature — traces of the natural world weave a common thread throughout every GJ piece. Mr. Jensen was a gifted craftsman and sculptor and his early years made a massive mark on the brand we know today. He grew up lakeside in the forest, and you’ll find whimsical motifs like fruits, blossoms, leaves, magnolia patterns, and frog’s feet, (seen here as the base of the teapot), all etched into his designs.
Each design and blueprint from the archives has a recipe on the back for the silversmiths and metal workers to follow. And while they follow that recipe, these masters of metal put their own fingerprint on each piece they create. We cannot see it but they can!
There is such artistry exhibited behind the scenes. Nothing is machine-made. In all of Georg Jensen’s pieces there is a human touch by both younger makers and seasoned craftsmen who honed their skill through years and years of apprenticeship. Every curve, hammer mark, floral detail, bend, and mold of the material is subtly manipulated by hand in a modern yet classic approach to design. It is impossible to not be in awe of the process.
To be certain there is a common language throughout the brand’s history. The modern-day designers get to dig through the archives. In exploring designs of the past, they might be inspired to create something new or even re-release a piece from the past that has been long forgotten. I think my takeaway from visiting the Georg Jensen archives was that the GJ collection is timeless – the pieces can work for someone who is 15 or 50. Granddaughter and grandmother can both wear the same piece, just styled differently.
Another testament to the Georg Jensen brand was their pursuit of collaboration, which was certainly forward-thinking! Georg Jensen was created in 1904 and by 1907 they had already brought on their first outside designer. Collaborations continue to this day — the emphasis on partnerships a part of the Georg Jensen DNA.
Vivianna Torun was one of the innovators who defined the jewelry design language for GJ from 1967 to 2004. She helped shape the company for an astounding 59 years. Vivianna was oh-so-chic and global in her design approach, taking inspiration from Africa and Indonesia and weaving traces of the culture into her jewelry.
In 1948 Vivianna traveled to France with her children, where she humbly collected pebbles and stones on the beach for the jewelry she was making. She happened to meet a man who was smitten with her creative process. They talked, they swooned, and only after he departed did she become aware that this man was Pablo Picasso! Here I am, fortunate to sit within her design studio in Copenhagen, to feel her aura and creativity and have a glimpse into her creative process.
Visiting the Georg Jensen archives and Vivianna Torun’s design studio were among my most memorable moments in Copenhagen, but during my five-day stay I made my way to so many other swoon-worthy spots, too. From the places shown here — Noma’s sister restaurant 108, shoppable apartment aptly called “The Apartment“, and Apollo Bar — to the Botanical Garden, cafés, and oodles of other beautiful boutiques, read all about the very best of what I experienced below.
Apollo Bar, by creative chef Frederik Bille Brahe of Atelier September, opened only a few short months ago and is already the local hot spot. The bar sits within the courtyard of the Kunsthal Charlottenborg museum and is that perfect mix of cool and understated. The café is open from late morning through lunch and serves simple yet sophisticated Mediterranean-inspired fare like a watermelon, tomato, and feta salad with briny olives that is spot-on. At night the bar becomes the place to be in Copenhagen.
Very easy to find peace and tranquility within the city’s prized green space, situated in the heart of Copenhagen. The garden is a living museum, part of the Natural History Museum of Denmark.
On one of Copenhagen’s most charming streets, beside a picture-perfect flower shop, sits Granola, a throwback ‘50s-style café and breakfast spot. The venue has outdoor seating, perfect for watching the Danes go by.
The holy grail of design shops. EVERYTHING is just perfect — minimal yet textured and layered, and all in a warm neutral palette that holds a time-worn patina. What an incredible eye for design Oliver holds. At the time of my visit, the Oliver Gustav shop was about to close and reopen in a new location four times its size. Excited to see what’s to come!
Black is where I purchased a breathtaking ceramic pitcher. It was handcrafted in Japan but perfectly at home among the Danish ceramic designs on the shelves. The shop carries a curated mix of men’s and women’s clothing, beauty products, books, linens, accessories, and ceramics. A one-stop shop.
This is the place I frequented most during my visit. I had five days in Copenhagen and had breakfast a total of four times at this buzzing cafe. Not to be missed is the yogurt with granola, matcha, and zucchini, and the avocado toast is their claim to fame. I could spend an entire day working in this light-filled space. Don’t forget to look up — Atelier September has the most exceptional glass-tile grid ceiling. There is also a homeware and ceramic gallery space in the back called Studio x Viaduct selling KH Würtz, the famed ceramic line from Noma, plus a curated selection of furniture and lighting. Food and design swoonery all happening under one roof!
The final stop on my way to the airport. It happened to also be my favorite destination. The Frama team straddles so many creative disciplines it rivals my own breadth of pursuits. Ceramics, kitchen, tabletop, lighting, and furniture all reside in the most ornate studio space, which was once an apothecary. The shop favors clean, precise lines, design, form, and natural materials like stone and marble. The Frama team partnered with a favorite blog, Food Stories, for a cook-and-design book which was released the very day I visited. I walked out out with that swoony book as well as perfectly patina’d bronze candlesticks and a few ceramic vessels.
Geist is another one of the city’s prized restaurants, thanks to its dark, sexy, and moody interiors as well as the small plates and veggie-focused fare. The interior was designed by uber-talented architect and design duo Signe Bindslev Henriksen and Peter Bundgaard Rützou of firm Space Copenhagen, who are friends of friends of mine. The cocktails are exceptional and not to be missed. I have a bit of a soft spot for the venue as it was there that I met up with some of my nearest and dearest old N.Y.C. friends, who now live in Copenhagen. It was incredible to reconnect in their city and reminisce about old times!
108 is the restaurant à la minute. The sister restaurant of the famed Noma, 108 is less than one year from its inception but already Michelin-rated. At the helm of the kitchen is co-owner, Noma alum, and chef Kristian Baumann. True to the overarching Danish approach, nature and seasonality remain at the heart of the cooking style at 108. The restaurant uses local ingredients and traditional cooking methods yet always continues to push culinary boundaries. Shown above, the white asparagus sculpted into an overlapping matrix was so beautiful it demanded a capture.
My respect for the Georg Jensen brand and design sensibility only deepened after visiting the company’s archives and the studio of incredible designer Vivianna Torun, whose legacy and impact on Georg Jensen continues to this day. Copenhagen is Georg Jensen’s home base, and the brand boasts a handful of retail outposts throughout the city.