Birds in the Nordic design

Hans Bølling, Ducks (éd. Architectmade)Hans Bølling, Ducks (éd. Architectmade)

Birds: the freedom of Nordic design, by Ásdís Ólafsdóttir

 In 1959, a family of ducks waddling across a busy road in Copenhagen brought the traffic to a halt. As the news hit the papers, the adventure of these ducks struck a chord in the Danes. Designer and architect Hans Bølling (born in 1931) was inspired by the story and created his famous duck and duckling family out of wood called Ducks. Fashioned by hand from oiled teakwood, these adorable creatures have delighted several generations of Danes and now find themselves getting a facelift.

The bird motif is traditionally used to embellish embroidery and textiles in Nordic countries. They can be found on ceramics and porcelain, but wooden ones only started to appear at tail end of the Fifties. In keeping with the tradition of Danish cabinetmakers, these items were often a secondary activity with a playful twist. As interest in them grew, design companies such as Architectmade and Lucie Kaas updated them, thereby helping to promote the names of their designers. The first to devote himself to designing wooden toys in the Thirties was Kay Bojesen (1886-1958). His Songbird dates back to 1950 but was not put into production and it was his teak and limba Monkey in 1951 that make him famous. Several of his bird designs are...