Q&A Niles Juul-Sørensen
CEO, Danish Design Centre
The Danish Design Centre’s new head is architect Nille Juul-Sørensen. Formerly an associate director of Arup, he also designed Copenhagen’s multi-award-winning metro. Last year he won the Kasper Salin Prize, one of Sweden’s most prestigious architecture awards, for his Triangeln station in Malmö.
How do you see the role of the DDC?
I want this to be one of the most forward-thinking design centres in the world – at the very cutting edge. We are starting Friday evening lectures with leading people from the design world and I really hope to get people from business coming as well. I want the things we do here to be so edgy that people say, “But this is nothing to do with design!” so that we can start a discussion.
What are the current design issues in Denmark?
Danish designers are scarily complacent. We are sitting on our hands. Nice chairs are a good calling card, and we sell a lot of them but how about a truly sustainable chair? We need a lot more design research here. Our younger designers are going to China or London. We are very good at small design companies but we have no IKEA – our designers aren’t so good at business. I want to help designers hook up with businesses, to be a translator between the two, and to mentor young designers to work better with business. Everything is going to have to be rethought in the next 20 years and I want Denmark to be involved in that. We are a design society. It’s in our DNA. But we need a kick in the butt!
How will things change from a visitor’s perspective?
I want to move away from exhibitions for design nerds and start talking to Mr and Mrs Hansen about what design is. Design is just as much about systems as it is about objects.