Copenhagen Drops from No. 10 to 17th World’s Most Expensive City

According to a new cost of living survey just published by Mercer Human Resources Consulting, Copenhagen has dropped from being the 10th to the 17th most expensive city in the world in 2011.

“The survey covers 214 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. It is the world’s most comprehensive cost of living survey and is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees. New York is used as the base city and all cities are compared against New York.”

Mercer states: Luanda in Angola is the world’s most expensive city for expatriates for the second year running, according to Mercer’s 2011 Cost of Living Survey. Tokyo remains in second position and N’Djamena in Chad in third place. Moscow follows in fourth position with Geneva in fifth and Osaka in sixth. Zurich jumps one position to rank seventh, while Hong Kong drops down to ninth.

New entries in the top 10 list of the costliest cities in the world are Singapore (8), up from 11, and São Paolo (10), which has jumped 11 places since the 2010 ranking. Karachi (214) is ranked as the world’s least expensive city, and the survey found that Luanda, in top place, is more than three times as costly as Karachi. Recent world events, including natural disasters and political upheavals, have impacted the rankings for many regions through currency fluctuations, cost inflation for goods and services and volatility in accommodation prices.

Down one place from last year, London (18) is the UK’s most expensive city, followed by Aberdeen (144), Glasgow (148) and Birmingham (150). Belfast (178) is ranked as the UK’s least expensive city.

And for Europe: Only three European cities remain in the top 10 list of most expensive cities. Moscow (4) is still the most costly European city on the list, followed by Geneva (5) and Zurich (7). Oslo (15) is down four places from last year, whereas Bern (16) has jumped six and Copenhagen dropped seven places from 10 to 17. London (18) is followed by Milan (25) and Paris (27) both down 10 places from last year. St. Petersburg ranks 29, followed by Rome (34) and Vienna (36). Up from 76 in 2010, Stockholm (39) has seen one of the most dramatic changes in the region – mainly due to a considerable strengthening of the local currency against the US dollar.

Henrik Vibskov at Copenhagen Fashion Week

Danish artist Henrik Vibskov known for his avant-garde fashion designs, as well as art installations and music (as the drummer for the Danish group Trentemøller — and one of my favorites…) always puts on a show to remember during Copenhagen Fashion Week. This year was no different. In his spring/summer 2012 collection he combines influences from “Clockwork Orange,” Steve McQueen, and 19th century artisans, miners and carpenters. See below some of the images from show.


Known through the Benthamian concept of a circular building that plays with observation and self-observation, the word Panopticon derives from the greek “panoptus“, meaning fully visible, all-embracing in a single view. Taken out of the context of strict surveillance and control it was originally intended for, the circular “Panopticon And On“ stage re-arranges and subverts elements of this structure. The SS12 collection itself plays with details from 19th century artisans, miners and carpenters. Apart from these more clear references, the pieces emerge from a very free spirited frame of creativity. Among the inspirational elements of the collection are a long list of arty nonsensical mechanical objects, children’s books illustrations, imagery from films like “Delicatessen” or “Clockwork orange”, and Steve McQueen.
About Henrik Vibskov:
The name Henrik Vibskov is most commonly associated not only with a fashion label, but a multitude of twisted yet tantalizing universes created in relation to each collection. As a fashion designer Henrik Vibskov has produced Seventeen collections since he graduated from Central St. Martin’s in 2001, and he is currently the only Scandinavian designer on the official show schedule of the Paris Men’s Fashion Week, which he has been since January 2003.
Since the beginning of his career Henrik has frequently been invited to and participated in festivals, contests and talks such as Swiss Textile Awards 2003 where he ended up in the finals, Hyères Festival 2003 and 2004, Expo 2005 japan, Noovo Festival 2007 in Santiago de Compostella, Design Week 2008 in Monterrey, Mexico and NOTCH Festival 2009 in Beijing. Although Henrik has a principle of never giving away clothes to celebrities for commercial purposes, people like M.I.A., Devandra Banhard, La Roux, Kanye West, Bjørk, The Arctic Monkeys, Sigur Ros, Franz Ferdinand, and Lou Reed  have all been spotted in Henrik Vibskov’s designs.
Between designing new collections biannually and creating the universes surrounding them, Henrik keeps himself occupied Touring the world as the drummer for electronic musician Trentemøller, and exhibiting at art museums and galleries around the world.
Henrik Vibskov’s collections are sold only through thoroughly selected shops across the globe. Seven in New York, Midwest in Tokyo, Aloha Rag in Hawaii, Spr+ in Amsterdam, Traffic in Moscow, Mue in Seoul and his own Henrik Vibskov Stores in Copenhagen  and Oslo are a few of the most influential stores, but lately countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have embraced Henrik’s designs. Through his career Henrik’s designs have won him prizes such as Beck’s Student Future Prize 2000, Danish Design Council Award 2007,Brand of the Year DANSK Magazine Fashion Awards 2008 and Danish Art Council’s Design Award 2009.

Fruit & veggies sold from a truck

While vacationing this summer in Greece we saw a number of trucks loaded with everything from melons to garlic and potatoes. The driver used a megaphone to announce what was for sale to the passing neighborhoods. Pretty straight forward. Sort of like the ice cream truck, except way more practical not to mention healthy. I was instantly reminded of this when I ran across this article in Huffington Post entitled, “A Mobile Strategy for America’s Eating Problem discussing a system for delivering produce to those with low access. Perhaps this age-old nation, some might even say the birthplace of civilization, has been doing this for centuries in one form or another. The idea is brilliant and would save customers on transport fees, unnecessary packaging and obviously make it more convenient and accessible. It’s an honest, down-to-earth way to service communities with fundamental needs. I dig it. Watermelon, anyone?


Eclectic meets Classic: Mielcke & Hurtigkarl

When I was reviewing restaurants for the “Fodor’s Essential Scandinavia,” guidebook in 2009, I had the opportunity to visit a number of restaurants in Copenhagen. It was tough job, but someone had to do it, as they say. But it really was hard work. One of the most memorable visits was at the international or “world” kitchen of Mielcke & Hurtigkarl, in Frederiksberg Gardens. Below is the link to the review I wrote with a few photos from our incredible lunch. I’m also including a link to an article written by Jakob for Saveur magazine that has some great tips on what to sample and where to go for foodies here in Copenhagen.

Fodor’s Review: Mielcke & Hurtigkarl (voted Fodor’s Choice)


Scandinavian Modern: What’s new in Scandinavian furniture design?

Back in 2008, I had the opportunity to interview design historian Judith Gura, professor at the New York School of Interior Design and associate professor at Pratt Institute, about her book, “Sourcebook of Scandinavian Furniture: Designs for the 21st Century,” and published a Q&A based on the interview for Copenhagen Exclusive Magazine (see below). It was the first book in more than two decades on Scandinavian furniture design and covers Nordic design history and more than 500 furniture pieces from 70 manufacturers in Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Denmark. The book contains everything from contemporary classics to cutting-edge modern pieces. In addition, it looks like Judith has published a newer version of the book entitled, “Scandinavian Furniture: A Sourcebook of Classic Designs for the 21st Century,” published in 2010. Here are a few of my personal favorites.

The Egg chair with Ottoman — Arne Jacobsen, 1958

The Ox chair — Hans J. Wegner, 1960

Y-Chair (CH24), Hans J. Wgener, 1949

Waves, Anne-Mette Jensen and Marten Ernst 1994

The Ant, Aren Jacobsen, 1952



Corona chair, Poul M. Volther, 1964

Stingray Rocking Chair, Thomas Pedersen

Gubi Chair, Komplot Design, 2003

Seesaw, Louise Campbell, 2003 (good example of modern design using wool upholstery over polyurethane foam with wood frame)

Boy, Norway Says, 2005

Snow table, Nendo, 2005

Parts of a Rainbow, Christian Flindt, 2005


Scandinavian Modern Renewal & Revival

By Laura Stadler-Jensen

A new Scandinavian Modern revival is under way, but it’s not quite the same as when the classics were created. New materials and experimentation with technology spark innovation in form and function while retaining the deep traditions of the past.

Judith Gura has followed the Scandinavian furniture industry for almost 30 years. After realizing a book had not been written about the industry since the 80s and taking note of the growing number of new designs introduced since the classics, she knew it was time for a Scandinavian revival. The result was the creation of the recently published, “Sourcebook of Scandinavian Furniture.” I had the opportunity to discuss the book with Judith and explore what she sees as the driving forces behind today’s Scandinavian furniture designs, how designers are being influenced by the classics, which innovations are breaking new ground and what she sees for the future.

What are the latest directions in Scandinavian furniture design?
The new developments are mostly in terms of new materials and technology. The original tradition of respect for craft, ecological design and love for natural materials and handwork still remains. Now there is more interest in using plastics and metals and experimenting with off-beat forms that are very obviously coming out of the machine. The other major change is that the entire market, and the designers themselves, are very international. There is no such thing as “typical Scandinavian design” any more. At one time, I could walk into a room and identify a piece of Scandinavian furniture. I can’t do that anymore …and that’s really a good thing.

What’s happened since the classics?
Nothing really happened for almost two decades. To a large degree, the designers were intimidated by the greats. They may have thought, “What can I do after Hans Wegner or Alvar Aalto?”  Either they chose not to do anything or to do something that followed in the same tradition. The other thing that hampered Scandinavian design, particular Danish furniture, was that it was good, well made and served its purpose. The Scandinavians have never had the craving for new things that Americans have – where the idea of “planned obsolescence” meant we always wanted the newest thing. In the late 60s and 70s, the Italians became much more experimental. They were more open to new ideas and the market responded to this, and turned away from the Scandinavians.

What traditions are being kept in the design styles of today?
The traditions are not as visual so much as cultural. Much of the design coming from the Nordic countries has always been socially responsible with a concern for ergonomics and universal design. In general, social concerns and humanism have had priority over novelty and design. For example, back to the 60s there was good looking Scandinavian furniture for children and they have also designed furniture for the elderly and the disabled. This tradition still informs their design today. They are as concerned with whether the chair is comfortable than they are whether it’s good looking.

Are the new designers resting on the success of the 50s?
Not any more…. but it took about two generations. This book couldn’t have been written in the 90s. Designers had to get far enough away from the burden of the tradition to feel free to experiment and explore. Around the 80s it became clear that Scandinavian design lost ground. When increasing promotion wasn’t enough, fundamental change in the design was necessary. There was an awareness that selling it as “Scandinavian design” was selling the same old image. There is no doubt that the designers today recognize they cannot count on the success of their predecessors to be successful.

Which designers and pieces best illustrate this new movement?
Design firms like Norway Says (Norway), CKR (Sweden) and Komplot Design (Denmark) are working in interesting new directions. Komplot, a team of two designers, have been experimenting with new materials, form and technology including rigid felt infused with a kind of fiber glass or resin and a chair made with laminated, heavy rubber. The firm Front, a team of four Swedish women, is using computer imaging to create pieces literally out of thin air using something called Rapid Prototyping. Some of the other designers to mention include Louise Campbell and Kasper Salto (Denmark), Stefan Lindfors and Sari Anttonen in (Finland), Thomas Sandell and Anki Gnieb (Sweden), Johan Verde (Norway) and Sigurdur Gustafsson (Iceland).

What about the future? Where do you see things going from here?
There will be more diversity overall. We’re already seeing it. Some of the new designs are crossing the boundaries between furniture and art. What’s being called, “design art” in the U.S. or limited edition pieces, is now of interest to Scandinavian designers as well. Kallemo in Sweden for instance has done some limited editions by designers like Jonas Bohlin that are as much about art as they are furniture. If you look at Chritsian Flindt’s rainbow colored Lucite stacked chairs called “Parts of a Rainbow,” that’s also a good example. All of this is going to make the market more exciting, but we’re not going to go back to the time of classic Scandinavian furniture because that belonged when it was.

Adult Summer Fun: “Classic” Copenhagen outdoor summer bars

Last week posted a list of favorite outdoor summer bars in Copenhagen. Looks like they chose some pretty classic places around the city. The site also features a Copenhagen PDF cityguide and iPhone app!

And if you want to learn more about beer drinking in Denmark, read my article on “The Ultimate Beer Experience,” published in Copenhagen Exclusive Magazine that includes a long list of beer sampling places around the city. For a list of the top specialty beer drinking places, see the list below that I included in the Fodor’s travel guide for Scandinavia.

Check it! Copenhagen’s locals’ favorite 2011 outdoor summer bars

And remember to say “Skål” when enjoying your ice-cold Carlsberg Classic or Tuborg!

Bar List in Copenhagen:

Charlie’s Bar


Den  Tatoverede Enke


Plan B

Bryggeriet Apollo


Brew Pub

Norrebro Bryghus


Vesterbro Bryghus

Jacobsen Brewhouse and Carlsberg Visitors Center

Copenhagen Summer Guide: Activities for Kids, Teenagers and Adults too!

German expat Annika Schwenk, fellow member and former president of the LINK group (Ladies International Network), compiled a pretty comprehensive list of things to do in Copenhagen and other parts of Denmark and Sweden for the summer. The list focuses on activities for kids and teenagers, but can also be useful for adults as well! She credits LINK, Sankt Petri Church, parents at the Copenhagen International School and  Deutsche Elterngruppe for assisting her with providing info.

The document can be downloaded here (be advised that it takes a few moments until the download is complete): Children Activities in and around CPH – summer 2011_28.06.2011docx

Have a great summer!!

Thanks, Annika

Annika Schwenk is a pharmacist for UNICEF and has lived in Denmark for five years.