3daysofdesign is an annual Danish design festival for which Enterprise Estonia and partners organised a joint exhibition in the Estonian embassy in Copenhagen to introduce Estonian design companies to Danish purchasing managers. Over 20 Danish companies visited this year’s mini fair and a contract has already been made with at least one of the contacts. PULO and Kaissu, two companies that participated in the festival, explained what companies should consider regarding the Danish design market.
Photo: A joint exhibition at the Estonian embassy in Copenhagen.
Enterprise Estonia organised a joint exhibition introducing Estonian design along with Tallinn Design House this year. Denmark is the world’s most important design market and Estonia needs to distinguish themselves in this current design mecca – not only for introducing our products, but also for learning and gaining inspiration. 3DD is also a great place to scope out competitors’ designs and activities and receive instant feedback on our products from potential buyers and contracting entities.
3DD hosted six Estonian companies this year – Sortaider, a company that manufactures stylish waste recycling solutions; 4ROOM, which manufactures lightning equipment from beginning to the end; WOH, which manufactures furniture and home accessories; Oot-Oot, which manufactures living room furniture; Kaissu, which manufactures beds and PULO, a lighting design company. The two latter companies’ experiences highlight a few points that can make better sense of the Danish Market and its significance and special features.
Why should companies look at the Danish Market?
Estonian design furniture brand Kaissu’s CEO Helen Leetsar wished to meet face-to-face with previously established contacts at the Copenhagen 3DD event in order to move forward with a more robust collaboration. Helen said that participating in the event gave them a much better view of the Danish market. “Denmark’s notoriety as a design country is nothing new, but now we clearly understand that Danish people (and retailers) prefer local designers and brands to foreign ones, especially for products in the higher price range,” said Helen and added that Denmark still thinks of Estonia as an Eastern European country.
Photo: A bed by Estonian design furniture brand Kaissu in the Estonian Embassy in Copenhagen at the joint exhibition.
Designer Liis Tippel is the founder and one half of the design duo of PULO. She stated it is quite evident that presenting their products and designs in a design mecca like Denmark is an achievement of its own. “We knew that our brilliant colleagues had invited potential business partners who match our profile to the meeting and that gave us a lot of courage and self-confidence.” Liis said that they knew it would take more than just participating at one design day to break into the Danish market. “We presumed that they would not host new companies with open arms, as Danish people who live and breathe design have cultivated clear preferences and aesthetic expectations,” Liis said.
PULO also wanted to test out commercial logics they have used for nearly seven years to manufacture and market their wooden lighting equipment. “We gained invaluable knowledge regarding how to set targets and focus on them and also some contacts that have a lot of potential for further collaboration.”
Photo: PULO’s portable light made from leftover materials from the wood industry.
How well does Estonian design meet the expectations set by the Danish market?
Kaissu’s CEO believes that Danish people prefer extremely minimalistic designs. “Even more minimalistic than most of the products created by Estonian designers. And when comparing Estonia to Denmark, we have basically no furniture brands who offer author design,” said Helen.
Liis from PULO highlights that even though products are reliably high-quality, Denmark is vastly ahead of Estonia in both branding as well as brand presentation. “It is completed to perfection, using extremely clear and concise messages and simple language.”
What types of big trends were observed in Denmark?
Helen said it was interesting to see and hear that the Japandi design style (a mixture of Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetics and lifestyle) in furniture design was the talk of the festival. This was already familiar to Kaissu, who also fit the trend. “However, most of the discussion with designers from all over the world is on sustainability, sustainable manufacturing and durable products. That was the case in Denmark as well.”
Liis agreed with that observation. “We were aware that our partners there would be open to recycling and reuse. Sustainability is not just a buzzword in that market, it is a natural part of an elaborate design.” Because of that, PULO received a lot of positive feedback regarding their lighting equipment manufactured from leftover materials from the wood industry and also their minimalistic designs.
Regarding interior design trends, it seemed that the Danish market was dominated by a yearning for nature, especially using more recycled wood and leather. “The utilisation of matte surfaces also caught our eye, that process has become even deeper and more light-absorbing due to the rapid advancement of technology. What makes it more interesting is knowing that after extremes emerge, the pendulum swings back to the other direction after a while – perhaps we will see high gloss and mirror-polished materials at the next Danish design festival in addition to the deep matte surfaces,” Liis said about future design trends.
What are your recommendations for Estonian entrepreneurs looking at the Danish Market?
“You must have a great reason and an appropriate product to enter the Danish market as a brand. Any other market would be easier to target for an Estonian designer. If you have a clear aspiration and vision, then you need to stock up on both time and patience, because developing relationships and trust is a lengthy process,” advised Helen.
Liis relies on the experience of their own export journey and the knowledge gained at the Scandinavian accelerator organised by Enterprise Estonia. “Denmark is certainly one of the more challenging destination markets to break into, because of its high design awareness as well as a certain degree of market saturation. Danes prefer their interior designer products to be designed by local design icons, making their choice safe and of high-quality – Danes do not like to be different!”
Danes wholeheartedly believe in quality and Liis is certain in this aspect that Estonia’s products are of high quality, which in turn provides a strong foundation to create export relationships with Denmark. “In business matters, Danes are more open to communication compared to Swedes, and creating trust can take as much time as it does with Finns, but if that trust ever develops, then it should result in a long and efficient collaboration.”
The next 3 Days of Design festival will take place in Copenhagen on 8-10 June 2022. Enterprise Estonia is already preparing to participate in that event. For additional information in regard to entering the Danish market and business opportunities, feel free to contact me:
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Publication of this article is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).