3daysofdesign: the reason for success

It has been 10 years since the first edition of the event in Copenhagen dedicated to Scandinavian design. Which, in contrast to other events, continues to grow. But what is its secret?

3daysofdesign, “The Art of Hosting” by Royal Copenhagen & Vitra – Photo © chris1million
3daysofdesign, “The Art of Hosting” by Royal Copenhagen & Vitra – Photo © chris1million

With 3daysofdesign in Copenhagen last week (June 7-9), design, Scandinavian but not only, took center stage. An event marked by quality time, where minutes are not counted as in so many other industry events, Milan in the lead, and what becomes important at the end is meeting people, designers, operators.

There were the historic brands (Fritz Hansen, Montana, Kvadrat, Fredericia, Carl Hansen & Søn, Finn Juhl, Muuto, Normann Copenhagen, Louis Poulsen) but also lesser-known realities outside Scandinavia such as Mater, Raawii, Frama, &Tradition, File Under Pop, which express the elegance of minimalist but also colorful and alternative design. Lots of Italian brands as well, attracted by the growing appeal of this event: Foscarini, Poltrona Frau/Ceccotti, Flos, Boffi/DePadova to name a few. Of course, there is also the importance of the Nordic market to motivate participation. But it’s not just that.

Odd Fellow - Photo © Samira Kudsk
Odd Fellow – Photo © Samira Kudsk

Let’s take a step back. 3daysofdesign was born out of the initiative of just four people representing as many companies (Joakim Lassen of Montana, Michael Anker of Anker & Cok, Anders Byriel of Kvadrat and Thomas Graversen of Fredericia) led by the explosive Signe Byrdal Terenziani, now Ceo of 3daysodesign. Orphaned by the annual furniture fair at Bella Center, which had been closed, they decided to organize a three-day event in an old warehouse to present their new products together.

The first editions gathered a few exhibition spots scattered around Copenhagen: in showrooms, sheds, and workshops, the participating companies warmly welcomed anyone who entered their spaces. Allowing visitors to go behind the scenes, to see their workplaces, telling, between a glass of wine or a fruit centrifuge, what their vision, their values, their identity was.

GamFratesi @ Bang & Olufsen
File Under Pop – Photo © Marina Jonna

At Fritz Hansen, years ago, one could witness the birth of the Egg armchair upholstered in leather and made strictly by hand. And the craftsman, when asked how long it took to make it, replied, “As long as it takes.”

Perhaps encapsulated in this sentence is the real success of 3daysodesign: here time is diluted, it allows you to get to know the people thoroughly, forging real friendships in some cases. Ideas are born from meetings between people with different visions, perhaps around a table in a relaxed atmosphere. That’s what the great artists, the designers who made history, have always told us. But the opportunities, increasingly in the international event circuit, are very often scarce.

The Refshaleøen district – Photo © Daniel Rasmussen
Signe Byrdal Terenziani – Photo © Egon Gade

Here, however, the dimension is that of creative exchange, which arises from a human relationship, perhaps now unobtainable elsewhere. Even the talks do not take place between protagonists on stage and an audience that does not interact. On the contrary. Certainly, the “small” size helps, despite the fact that this year, on the cusp of its 10th edition, the event presented about 300 brands – not a few – divided into 13 districts that included emerging areas of the city.

As Signe Byrdal Terenziani tells us, a major factor is the curatorial aspect: “It is important that participating companies share our values: original design, attention to materials, craftsmanship and sustainability. That’s why every year we make a careful selection of the brands that will exhibit: we don’t want it to become a commercial circus. It must remain a connector of companies with the same core values.”

BLOX, Copenhagen - Photo © Rasmus Hjortshøj
BLOX, Copenhagen – Photo © Rasmus Hjortshøj

A watershed that allows 3daysofdesign to keep its quality formula intact. And if it became more commercial, certainly succeeding in making higher profits, it would lose its uniqueness and move away from its roots. The event is still a nonprofit association and membership platform with about 300 members today.

Another key factor is the setting offered by Copenhagen in this season, with very long days and unique atmospheres that can be appreciated by walking or biking around, easily following the App that takes you through the visit.

“The Art of Hosting” by Royal Copenhagen & Vitra – Photo © chris1million
Kongens Have - Photo © Marc Skafte Vaabengaard
Kongens Have park, one of the venues of 3daysofdesign – Photo © Marc Skafte Vaabengaard

This year’s theme summed up the inclusive philosophy of the event, “Where would we be without you?” an example of gratitude to those who believed in 3daysofdesign. So many creatives one can meet here by being able to get to know them personally and perhaps in unseen guises, such as Erwan Bouroullec who was the DJ of the evening at last year’s Hay party. In the end what really matters is getting in touch with people: the new products – some already presented at other fairs – come later, seeing and appreciating them becomes a logical consequence.

The mind goes back to some episodes of past editions of Salone del Mobile: a Driade party in Milan in 1991 where an unprecedented Borek Sipek became the protagonist of the performance I Capricci di Eolo. Or again, Achille Castiglioni who, encountered casually on the street, stopped to generously tell us students what design meant to him. The enthusiasm surrounding the Copenhagen event is one long cheer to time regained. One secret – perhaps the secret? – for success is also this.