Q&A

“I dream of breaking taboos”

Designer Anker Bak works to ensure that beautiful, respectful, and dignified designs can be delivered to everyone in all of life’s phases.

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Q&A

“I dream of breaking taboos”

Designer Anker Bak works to ensure that beautiful, respectful, and dignified designs can be delivered to everyone in all of life’s phases.

Anker Bak is a Danish furniture designer with a deep-seated wish to solve daily problems and improve people’s lives with dignified and necessary furniture. Anker is equally a designer and storyteller and insists his designs must inspire us in a time when we need new solutions and different stories. 

During 3daysofdesign you can visit Anker Bak’s exhibition ‘The Furniture We Need’ in Kulturtårnet on Knippelsbro Bridge. 

What's your dream?

My dream is for assistive furniture to be normalized to the point where you use a cane before you fall.

I dream with bigger and bigger ambitions every day.

The potential of the designer’s role in the world is unlimited. I see us as a kind of everyday superheroes who have been given amazing powers from our knowledge of form and function to serve people who themselves do not have the voices or powers like we do. This is a gift and a curse that weighs heavily on me. And it should weigh heavily on everyone in these crucial times of change. So ultimately, I dream of changing the way we see ourselves as designers and our responsibilities toward society.

The only thing in life we are certain of is that we will grow older and one day die. This is incredibly hard for a lot of people to fathom or even talk about. It's steeped in a double taboo: when you are older or struggling physically - the taboo of death and the taboo of functional impairment.

I know and can see, from my own work, that design has the immense power to influence the way we think and speak of aging, of impairments, and death. I want my designs to help facilitate conversations about these subjects and bring hope and dignity to this phase in life.

My role and mission are simply to ensure that beautiful, respectful, and dignified designs can be delivered to everyone in all of life’s phases. Whether you are old or young, rich or poor, energetically living or soon dying, you should have the opportunity to get products that can bring pride and joy into your life. Not only function.

Physical impairment is something we all eventually have to deal with, and my wish is that as "ordinary" furniture or products, we should be able to buy the furniture and assistive aids we need in stores everywhere. Why do we still send people to special stores to find furniture that meets common needs? Many of us will face many of the same challenges as our bodies grow older, whether it be trouble with balance, sight, or strength. I hope one day it will be common to be able to get those needs met in a regular furniture store.

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How do you dream of contributing to the world?

I’m a practical and stubborn dreamer. I am still up-and-coming in my field but with great dreams for the future. In the end, this is both a personal and societal mission for me: I want to contribute however I can with my skillset and be a part of the change I want for my child, friends, and family to enter a better future.

I have big ambitions that are slowly coming to fruition, but I try to focus on the small steps to not lose my grip. It is hard work trying to build bridges between furniture design and the assistive design industry. But I try to make all the changes I can while being present in my own life, with my family and friends. I have to be on top of myself for me to secure that my life’s mission is met. So you can say I'm in a slow hurry to get things done.

There is something essentially wrong when we fear getting older, when we don’t value our elders as resources, or when we are afraid to talk about the fact that life has an end. I want to change that. Growing older and dying are the only certainties in life and something we should cherish the same way we cherish a newborn beginning its life.

I dream of breaking these taboos in hopes of improving the quality of life for many and opening up important conversations in life with people in between. I believe that taboos are suppressing us as humans, which is why I find it so important to challenge them.

What do you think the world needs more of? And less of?

I think the world needs less furniture and more furniture!

As an industry, we continue to produce the same types of furniture in new ways, while simultaneously leaving many needs unfulfilled. Around the world, people are increasingly growing older, and with that development comes a need for furniture that caters to the needs of this age group. Today, there aren't many options to choose from, and I believe that designers play an important role in devising beautiful and practical solutions.

I find it necessary for the industry to reconsider its view on what constitutes a piece of furniture. Many people will say that I design assistive devices. I would argue that I design furniture!

I take my profession incredibly seriously and aim to address the challenges I encounter in my day-to-day life. In my opinion, that is a designer’s most valuable role: to solve real problems.

The first step in doing that is to prioritize people's needs.

Sustainable Design Effort
At 3daysofdesign, our commitment extends beyond showcasing the latest trends in interior design and furniture. We strive to facilitate meaningful discussions, debate, and actively contribute to pushing forward a more sustainable approach within the realm of interior design and furniture business. Join us in our mission to inspire positive change and promote a greener, more responsible future for the industry.

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Exhibitors mentioned in this article

Anker Bak
Knippelsbro 2, 1400 Copenhagen
Anker Bak is a pioneering designer, merging the essence of Nordic cabinetmaking traditions with innovative, regenerative furniture and assistive aids. Recognized for his empowering and caring practice, Bak experiments with wood to address real-life challenges, notably improving the lives of the elderly and people with disabilities. He creates vital furniture pieces still awaiting full industry recognition. Collaborating with esteemed entities like Carl Hansen & Søn, Takumi Kohgei, and Fredahl Rydéns, Bak was honored with the Wegner Prize in 2023 and the 2024 Finn Juhl Prize for his holistic and crucial design approach. As a thought leader in an emerging field, he is dedicated to ushering in a new era with his concept of Dignity Design.
Anker Bak
I dream of changing the way we see ourselves as designers and our responsibilities toward society
Anker Bak
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Since its inception in 2013, Signe Byrdal Terenziani has facilitated the growth of the design community in her role as Managing Director. It all began as a small design event held in an old warehouse in Nordhavn, a harbour area overlooking Copenhagen’s waterfront. Four Danish brands launched the event as a joint initiative: Montana, Erik Jørgensen (now owned by Fredericia Furniture), Anker & Co, and Kvadrat. At that time, Copenhagen lacked a proper design festival, since the previous annual furniture fair at Bella Center closed down some years before.

Today, the 3daysofdesign festival extends to the entire city of Copenhagen and is considered the most significant annual design festival in Scandinavia.

Each year since its inception, 3daysofdesign has grown in popularity exponentially. In 2023, over 250 brands exhibited at the festival, where visitors could choose from as many as 500 events to attend in various design districts across Copenhagen, such as design talks, networking events, etc.

3daysofdesign takes place every year in Copenhagen mainly during the second week of June from Wednesday to Friday. In 2025 the festival will be held from 4 - 6 June.

Pack your bags, book a hotel and come to Copenhagen! 3daysofdesign is open to the general public and everyone is invited to visit the showrooms, exhibitions, workshops and design talks. All events are free of charge – however this his year we're using a new QR ticket system to make your experience smoother and more enjoyable. Simply download our app and register as a visitor to gain access to all the exhibition spaces and events.

Please check the programme, which is updated on an ongoing basis, at 3daysofdesign.dk

You can look forward to seeing cutting-edge concepts from new and established names in lifestyle, design, furniture and interior design. Get a preview of new product launches. Learn about upcoming trends on the horizon. Meet the players behind forward-thinking ideas worth knowing. And network with like-minded people with a passion for design.

It's easy to get around in Copenhagen.

Rent a bike, jump on the bus or metro, catch a boat or simply walk from venue to venue. At the same time, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the architecture, restaurants, cafes, shops and Copenhagen's relaxed vibe by day and vibrant night life.

Absolutely! Don't forget to download our app on your Android or iPhone. It provides a comprehensive view of all the festival events, including a complete list of exhibitions along with their locations on our interactive 3daysofdesign map. Plus, we're excited to introduce a new QR ticket system this year for easy access to everything the festival has to offer.

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