Copenhagen

Anne Nowak

Before I left Copenhagen, I went to go visit my new, extended tribe at Alhambra & Sons for a second time. There was one artist in the studio whose space I was very drawn to - you can see some photos of her spot in this blog post. I wasn't able to meet her the first time I visited but I was able to meet her this time around.

Her name is Anne Nowak and her work is: oh, so fantastic.

Interesting fact: the studio that I saw a week before my second visit was not the same studio that I walked into this second time around. There was new work everywhere and there was a productive energy that you could feel was charging the space.

I was originally interested in talking to Anne about some cyanotypes that she had made called 'Dead People's Flowers.' They are beautiful prints created with the process of her going to graveyards and collecting flowers that were thrown out after they had wilted or died. I wanted to purchase one if I could - turns out that she wasn't selling them quite yet because she had some shows the collection was going to tour. (It was recently featured in NYC at Armory Week and has since been gaining a lot of interest.)

There was also another piece that I was interested in taking home with me and it was that of a moon. I loved this piece the moment I saw it and wanted very much to make it a part of my life.

This is a White Moon print from Danish artist, Anne Nowak, and you can purchase it here.

Coincidently, Anne was producing her print, Haze, and was planning on making some White Moons as well. I asked her where I could buy her print and she told me the name of some stores but then offered for me to purchase directly from her. More often than not, anytime you are able to buy directly from an artist, it benefits them more than if you were to go through a store - so, of course I said yes. 

We talked quite a bit and she went on to make her first 'White Moon' of two that afternoon. 

Prepping for 'White Moon.'

Anne Nowak inspecting her 'White Moon.'

I started to talk to her more about her recent flood of productiveness and she explained to me that she was just so inspired by NASA's photography of planets and space that she had to do something about it. I know the feeling. When you're inspired, you have to ride that energy otherwise you lose it and it leaves you to wallow in regret for a while. 

Anne showing me her 'Black Moon' print where the whole process is reversed.

Prototypes of work where you can see her inspiration take effect. What I would do to have these, I do not know!

When Anne decided to work on the print I would take home with me, it got really quiet. During the making of the first moon, she was describing all of the components that were going into it: the spray paint, the kind of paper she used, her template, etc. but the entire time this moon was in production, there was a mysterious cloud that silenced the both of us.

Anne preparing to wrap up my 'White Moon' on the bottom right.

We looked at it after it was done and compared it to the first one.
 

"It's darker in its energy," she said. "Maybe it's because I was making it for you."


I laughed. I am known to have interest in dark energy so I'm glad she was able to pick up on that. It was almost as if she felt who I was and translated it into one of her many versions of her moons. Fascinating, no?

This art piece is something I will cherish and always keep close - not only because it is visually pleasing but also because of the story that comes with it. I fundamentally believe that as much as we are automating a lot of services through technology, we as humans will crave craftsmanship and personal interaction as time goes on. So, if you haven't already, find some artists, spend time with them, and invest in their craft. You may learn a thing or two about your own skills but they may also reveal things about you that you may not know.

Moral of the story is that Anne Nowak is a fantastic artist and it was so lovely to meet her and spend time with her in her studio space. Follow her on Instagram and check out her work on her site

Service Design Notes: More and more, people are wanting to know how something is made rather than just being given product. To demonstrate process is a great way to design services because there is an underlying educational component the service receiver is also receiving. It keeps users engaged throughout the process and the end service that is being received feels more satisfactory and goal-like.


More Visual TREATS:

Solfinn + Family

Remember when I went to that pop-up dinner from Rødder? And then they invited me to their wine shop the day after? I went and had a wonderful hang with them. 

One of the things that Rødder prides itself on is their knack for finding natural wine that is oh so delicious and wonderful. I bought a bottle to gift the Airbnb that I was staying at but felt tempted to bring it back home to the states with me instead.

Inside the store there are rad posters of bands and just a quaint space where you can tell most of the finances and emailing takes place for this small business. 

The sweetest treat of the day, other than the amazing rosé they opened and shared, was the arrival of Solfinn's daughter who was dressed oh so french and chic. 

I also met Solfinn's wife who had apparently designed some of the posters that were inside the wine shop. She is an architect by trade and told me that she will be returning to work in a few months.

She was so social and playful the entire time and was also very curious when it came to my camera. (Photographed here is also the international phenomenon, Sophie la Girafe)

Solfinn and his beautiful family. They had just spend 3 weeks in Paris for their holiday and were back in Denmark to cook up a storm.

I was so pleased to be able to hang out with just awesome people and I really felt all the kindness ooze out of everyone. Maybe it was the weather that day or it could've been the wine but it was just so chill. 

I love good people.

Industry Specific

While I was writing my thesis in graduate school, I investigated a school called the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID). I wasn't able to visit during the few days I had in Copenhagen about 3 years ago but I made it a point to visit this time around. 

I had a friendly exchange with Alie Rose who basically runs the joint (Co-Founder and Head of Education) and met her at the CIID building. She was so pleasant to talk to, gave me a tour, and I ended up hanging out with her and her colleagues in their space for a little bit. Simona, the head of the program there, saw that I had a camera and asked if I could take some profile shots of her so I did. One thing led to another and I ended up there for almost 5 hours - would've been longer if I didn't have a dinner to go to. Basically, I fell in love with this place.

I have never been to a building that was so vertically charged with positive energy.

The only way that I can describe this is through food. You know when you have a croissant that has been folded over and over again with butter and dough, and you get the feeling that this little pastry in your hand is just charged with so much goodness? Yeah, that's what CIID feels like. 

Turns out that most of the students who come here are selected to be diverse in nationality. This move is absolutely intentional and really smart when it comes to creating an environment for innovation and collaboration. It is only through cultural differences and bringing brains together that have been wired differently will new ideas form and we will also progress to live more harmoniously in this world. 

One of the things that I love about the HCD industry is that it beckons in differences and not only welcomes them with open arms but is a crucial part of the formula when it comes to designing services, experiences, interactions, etc. Without this kind of dimension, it is quite possible that whatever solution or design is made may not be as encompassing or holistic. 

This is Simona Maschi who is the Co-Founder and CEO of CIID. Pretty much a rockstar but you can already tell by the photo.

This is Chris Downs with whom I had the privilege of spending some time with talking about lots of Interaction Design and notions about Service Design. He invited me to see some of his students pitch their ideas and I gladly accepted. So fun.

Pictured here is Simon Herzog who heads up the Nest component of CIID. Nest incubates new ideas and startups in the European sector and has a bunch of stellar experts and advisors who will help you along the way. 

The top floor of CIID is 'the Nest' and it really feels like a cozy, safe place to share and incubate a delicate idea.

I met great people and have since then met extensions of great people in Chicago who have been educated in this space. Their prototyping playground is imaginative, the architecture is fitting, and the energy is just really present and spot on. They have a great business model that includes education, consulting, and incubation for new ideas and I don't think it can get any better than that.

To read more on this program, go to CIID's site

UX Notes: Creating a physical space that reflects the kind of tone of work your organization provides is crucial to the survival of your employees and work culture. If you're wondering why something is not working in a project, take a look around you to see if there is something you can change. It might an environmental fix that you need.


More visual TREATS:

Food for... Eating.

When my brother and I went to Japan, we waited in line for sushi at the fish market for 4 hours. Yes. 4 hours. 

Needless to say, I love food. It has always been 'live to eat' and never the other way around. There are articles written out there about our current culture's obsession with food and the endless boards that exist on Pinterest which is everyone's not-so-guilty pleasure. So, I will gladly own up to the fact that, yes, I am a Millennial who is obsessed with food. 

Food lovers - you HAVE to go to Copenhagen. 

Your first thought might be, "Did you go to NOMA?!" The answer is no, I did not. 

I thought about going there and giving myself an insanely expensive treat but I decided that I wanted to keep that experience for later on in my life so that I have something to look forward to (and also to have an excuse to come back to Copenhagen). I laugh about this because it only shows how deep my adoration for food really is. I am literally planning when the peak of my dining experience should be but I have no shame in this arena and neither do my siblings.

Little did I know that some of the chefs who have trained at NOMA have exited and started restaurants of their own - one of them is Christian Puglisi and I basically played in his playground for a large portion of my time in Copenhagen.

If I'm going to go with this playground analogy, this man has the best sand box called Mirabelle, the most wonderful snack tables for recess called Manfreds, the best swing set with trained pushers called Relæ, and the coolest kids in town to hang out with. He also has one of those domes you can crawl over called Bæst but I unfortunately didn't get to try that gem. 

Mirabelle

The Airbnb I stayed at had a really great book of local eateries that they crafted themselves and I am forever indebted to my hosts for introducing me to this place. I think I came here a total of 4 times. Yes. I liked it that much. 

It was such a laid back place to do some work, to read, and to get some wonderful food. The people there are wonderful and there is a glass wall between the cafe and the bakers that make is so delightful to be creepy and stare at the process of all the goodies that come out of this place.

What I kept going back for:
1) The Sourdough Bread. This bread, ladies and gentlemen, is the best sourdough bread I have ever had. Ever. Ugh... I can't even write about it because it's so good. Let's just say that the day I was flying out of Copenhagen to come back to the states, I swung by to grab some to eat on the plane. It's that good. 

2) The Cortado. I used to be a barista in Los Angeles, CA and let me tell you how hard it is to steam milk. It's one of those things that people really take for granted and I did so myself until I had the task to create some on a daily basis. Mirabelle does an impeccable job and their espresso is fantastic as well. So. Good. 

3) The Plain Roman. This delightful treat is a thin focaccia like bread topped with sliced potatoes and leeks. There were other options available but this one takes the cake. It's so simple and clean but oh so delicious. 

4) The Croissant. Oh. My. ... This croissant is amazing. The Danish baker who creates this I found is a young woman (through my Instagram research - basically internet stalking) and she is famous in Denmark for producing these goodies. In their take away menu it reads, "Our croissants are very popular and are ripped off the shelves every morning. Come early or call ahead to make sure you get one," and it is so true. It was only the third time I came to Mirabelle that they had some available. 

 

Manfreds

I didn't feel like sitting at a restaurant but I did want some great food to take home so I figured it was my chance to try Manfreds. The reviews read that their beef tartare was impeccable. I'm actually really afraid of raw meat - I came out of my vegetarianism around 3 years ago but everything told me that I needed to try this dish. I ordered the beef tartare and the green dish of the day.

The hostess was really sweet and made sure I got some of Mirabelle's sourdough bread to accompany my meal. The. Best. Ever.

I ate both dishes in the comfort of my rented apartment and wow. It was delicious. Beef tartare is actually good and I think I may have been introduced to it in the best way possible. And with that bread? I don't think anything can go wrong with that bread.  

The green dish had olives in it and that's something that I still can't get around. I can detect those things in their smallest form in pizza so that shows how much I react to it. I wish I liked it though because the rest of the dish was spectacular and I can see how it would've been oh so wonderful if I enjoyed the enhancing flavor.

 

Relæ

The very last night I had in Copenhagen was originally planned for dinner with my new letterpress friend, Katrine. We had to cancel but I was miraculously called for an opportunity to eat at Relæ which I had been crossing my fingers for the entire trip. 

I wrote that if I were to compare Christian Puglisi's restaurants to a playground that this place would be the swing set with trained pushers and boy was it a blissful ride. All I had to do was sit down and enjoy the acclimation of slowly being pushed higher and higher and then being brought down gently with a joyous treat at the end.

Another addition to this dinner that made it a serendipitous experience was meeting a fellow diner to my right who was visiting from New York. He, too, was on a small sabbatical and it turns out that his girlfriend is in the same industry as me. We had much to talk about throughout the night and it was nice to share a meal with someone who was also about to embark on an adventure of new work and challenges ahead. 


Other delightful finds in Copenhagen include:

Grød

One of the strangest things I fell in love with in this magical city was oatmeal. Growing up, I didn't even know what oatmeal was until later on in elementary school, didn't taste it until high school, and even then I didn't like it. It always puzzled me how people could eat oatmeal and feel satisfied.

But Grød is so different. They stripped down the humble oatmeal and dressed it up with natural ingredients to enhance its flavor. One that surprised me was Icelandic yogurt which is very similar to greek yogurt. Wow.

Total times I tried different dishes here: 3. It's that good.

 

Höst

Another coveted place that is just as tough to get into as Relæ was Höst. I got a last minute reservation and got to spend some time eating delicious treats, meeting and talking wonderful servers, and reading my book. 

The people here were so wonderful and the food was fun and paired with great wine. Something to note about this restaurant is their attention to their dinnerware. Each piece was created and/or selected for the dish in mind which supports the dish to achieve its maximum potential.

The interior is also really magical and quaint and you can tell why they have won 3 international design awards. They were also named the world's best designed restaurant at the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards in 2014 so there's that.

Service Design Notes: During my dining experiences, a lot of the restaurants had a interesting way to welcome you to their table. They would bring out a little treat for you while you began to browse the menu to figure out what you wanted to eat. This is a great way to welcome users and also gives a way for restaurants to buy a little bit of time. It also makes the introduction memorable as opposed to the standard bread in a basket.

UX Notes: One of the most important things about design is that everything must breathe together in its function and form. I once interviewed a girl for a UX position who stated that "UI is not UX." As we talked more, I found out that she likes to cook and asked her if she just eats out of the pot or pan she cooked from or if she makes an effort to place it on a dish in a way that appealed to her. The answer was the latter. Having visuals support your hard work of research and functional design elevates your design to correctly communicate how you want your users to receive your product. Food and mobile screen? Not so different.

 

Rødder: Pop-up Dinner

I mentioned several times that I did some research into my tribes that exist in Copenhagen. During this quest I found a blog that belonged to one of the main Service Design groups in Denmark. I reached out in hopes of meeting like-minded people but sadly, it was summer, and they weren't holding any events during my stay. However, I continued to read their blog and looked at some of their past events.

One of their events looked so festive that I searched a bit more to find who had hosted such a lovely looking event. Turns out that it was hosted by a group called Rødder: Two chefs holding pop-up dining experiences filled with thoughtful, locally grown produce that were transformed with creativity onto a plate. I crossed my fingers and sent them an email to see if they would be hosting an event during my stay. Lo and behold, they were. So, I bought a ticket. 

I arrived a little late to the dinner but was met with smiling chefs who directed me to a spot in a long dinner table setting. I talked to them about this set up and they described to me that it was very intentional on how they wanted everyone to feel united as well as cozy enough to spark conversation during communal dining. Remember - Danes don't just party with anyone. 

I sat down and was met with two groups to the left and right of me. I must've looked timid (and I'll admit I was - I was horrified that I was late and also that it seemed to be a very family oriented event) so they were kind enough to spark conversation. Again, to me, Danes are so friendly and kind. What is this nonsense of them being cold and unapproachable? Someone please correct this misunderstanding.

We talked about many things and eventually, many of them asked me how I got a ticket to this event. I told them my story and they were sort of amazed. I then found out that Rødder was the first group to ever host pop-up dinners and spearheaded this notion of celebratory communal dining with local food. Here I was, sitting at a lovely pop-up dinner, with a ticket that was coveted by many who were met with 'sold out' notifications during an online check-out process. #jelly?

Needless to say, the meal was fantastic. 

Chef Esben

Chef Solfinn

Aren't these lily pad looking things gorgeous? I still have yet to find the names of them. If you know what they are, please share!

Lovely plant centerpieces

This dessert was amazing. Vanilla mouse with fennel, gooseberries, and lemon ice.

At the end of the meal, I talked with some of the chefs and they asked if I was the girl from Chicago who had emailed them about their event. Such great memory, right? We chatted a bit and I thanked them for the meal. We ended the conversation with them inviting me to their wine shop to chill and hang out the next day. Umm... yes. I will be there.

Service Design Notes: There were no technology components involved in this dinner experience except for the ticket purchasing which wasn't even checked upon arriving. What do you think about honor systems? I think that the better we get at service design, the more honor systems we will see in the industry. I believe this to be true because as we design better experiences, we connect with humans better and create mini-relationships even if it's for the designed moment. When we connect and develop these mini-relationships, we don't need to play police because cooperation, respect, and the golden rule is part of the transaction of receiving a service.

UX Notes: These long tables that were quite narrow were consciously selected and designed for these events by Rødder. When creating an experience, it is important to consider the physical space of where you are constructing your experience because this is where the unconscious mind and emotions creep in and can determine which direction your experience will go towards. I believe this set up is successful for Rødder because the physical space forced naturally reserved Danes to get close and enjoy food in good company.