“Everyone deserves great design”: a Danish design lesson from the 1920s

In 2011 Sus Bojesen Rosenqvist created a brand to respectfully carry on the legacy of more than 2000 design products designed by her grand-father Kay Bojesen from the 1920’s onwards

The Grand Prix collection, a new bar series and other selected items by Kay Bojesen will be featured in the exhibition THIS IS DENMARK hosted at Alcova for the Milan Design Week 2023

Many Danish brands set their basis on conserving Scandinavian design history, focusing their production on classic and iconic products by famous design masters. It is a very important part of the Danish industrial design sector resulting in a living catalogue of masterpieces and classic products. 

Kay Bojesen’s silver collection is a fundamental part of this process. Founded in 2011, the brand was created by Sus Bojesen Rosenqvist to carry on her grandfather’s design legacy. 

KAY BOJESEN _ Grand Prix children cutlery _ This is Denmark _ Milan Design Week 2023
Grand Prix children’s cutlery by Kay Bojesen

Who was Kay Bojesen?

Kay Bojesen was a silversmith, an intuitive and visionary designer who approached his work with an interest for ergonomics and for the relation between human bodies and tools, as a part of his functionalist attitude. 

In the 1930’s he designed a cutlery collection to give life to the perfect set: neither too heavy nor too light, untouched by trends and fashion, durable and, most of all, a useful and usable set of daily tools. In 1951 Kay Bojesen’s cutlery won the Grand Prix of Milan Triennale, an event that gave name to the complete set of 57 cutlery pieces.

KAY BOJESEN _ Grand Prix serving cutlery _ This is Denmark _ Milan Design Week 2023
Grand Prix serving cutlery by Kay Bojesen

The first ergonomic approach to design

The number of pieces testify Bojesen’s attention to the functional side of design. A tool set must align to any specific use, any specific kind of food (from desserts to coquillage) and for any course of a complete dinner. 

For some 20 years the Grand Prix cutlery was only available in a silver version. But the designer was convinced of the democratic role of the project to create an affordable product for everyone. After the Second World War, Denmark’s fast industrialization opened the possibility to manufacture a stainless steel version of the Grand Prix, resulting in a best-seller collection that conquered a wide public while still being the standard set of any Danish embassy of the world. 

Grand Prix salad set _ This is Denmark _ Milan Design Week 2023
Grand Prix salad set by Kay Bojesen

Two thousand design classics

In 2011, after the actual Kay Bojesen brand was created, Grand Prix was also introduced in a polished version, complementing the existing matte steel finish, and offering a steel variant paying tribute to the original shiny silver cutlery. The new collection brought Grand Prix to contemporary aesthetic standards, giving it a more cosmopolitan and modern look.

The process is part of the brand’s identity vision to create products that are equally functional, beneficial, sustainable and relevant to all. As said in the company’s manifesto: curiosity, simplicity and sustainability are the brand’s founding principles and a way to respect and carry on Kay Bojesen design philosophy. 

Grand Prix cutlery _ This is Denmark _ Milan Design Week 2023
Grand Prix cutlery by Kay Bojesen

Since Sus Bojesen Rosenqvist took over her grandfather’s legacy, many other interior and tableware products have been launched, all of which originated from Kay’s extensive archives and original sketches. Many pieces were re-edited to once again bring to life the timeless spirit of Bojesen’s work.

Plates, jewelry, cake sets, as well as the bar series with an unforgettable compact and round-shaped shaker as a centerpiece. After all, Bojesen managed to design and put more than 2000 objects in production. 

This is Denmark exhibition, staged at Alcova during the Milan Design Week 2023, wishes to offer an overview, through 15 selected objects, of how contemporary Danish creators and companies interpret today the key values coming from their national heritage.


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