copenhagen chronicles: danish embassy christmas

by Grace Bonney

[i’m thrilled to have our summer correspondent in copenhagen, brittany watson, back for a special holiday post- thanks, brittany!]

I’m back, but this time planted back in DC finishing my last year of school and dreaming of my unforgettable Danish summer. Somehow, Copenhagen came back to me when we, three students from the Corcoran, Caryn Cramer, Breeze Giannasio, and I, and two from the Danish Design School, Louise Havndrup and Tirsdag Ohrt, were asked to design the annual Christmas party for the Royal Danish Embassy held at the Ambassador’s House. Talk about being right up my alley. Because I was in Copenhagen at the time we were asked, I got to meet up with Louise, our future collaborator and I knew we were in for a treat. From the get go, we all had the same vision: no red, lots of candles, and all sorts of hand-crafty goodness.

jars and stumps1
This year the party took a twist as it also celebrated the UN COP15 Conference being held in Copenhagen right as we speak. We adopted Hans Christian Andersen’s “Snow Queen” as the theme and set it into a new context, one that reflected climate change through imagery from the story like snow, reindeer, roses, and crows. All selected materials were either recycled, recycleable, reused, or reuseable.

We created a snowstorm as the constant element throughout the house consisting of roses made from coffee filters, stacks of Financial Times, and other trash taken straight out of the recycle bin here at school. We held weekly flower-making sessions in order to gather the mass we needed to carry it off. Then, Breeze would water and bend each petal of the coffee filter roses with a toothpick to make it more life-like. Yes, true dedication.

CLICK HERE for the rest of Brittany’s post and more beautiful pictures after the jump!

front window2
To create the Danish hygge, very roughly “coziness” we used lots of warm lights starting with large snowball lights placed on the ground and LED lights hung in jars from the trees lining the walkway to the house, led by our designated lighting expert Caryn. Once Tirsdag and Louise arrived from Denmark, we all took a trip to a Christmas tree farm to chop down our own trees. (Turns out, the Danes are much better with a saw than the Americans.) Another humorous trip to a tree removal lot with the help of 6 burley men gave us the stumps we needed to line the facade of the house.

snowballs clumps
tree farm2
tree removal

Louise made a fantastic paper-cut of reindeer emerging from a snowstorm and you can’t see it from the picture but the Snow Queen is embedded into the snow. Tirsdag worked on the graphics and set up the dining room table with a pleated textile piece by Charlotte Ostergaard and shards of glass escaping out of vases of white branches placed on stumps with, of course, more jars of candles.

dining display1

My charge was the five foot wreath in the living room made with sticks and paper mache birds from the endangered species list. It was stopped off by a life-size Japanese Red-Crowned Crane at the foot of the fireplace with oodles of roses protruding off the tail. I got a little carried away and ended up attaching one to my head for the event.

wreath and crane2

I couldn’t have been luckier to work with such a great, collaborative team. The Embassy folks were just fantastic and Ambassador Friis Arne Petersen was so kind to open up his house and let us go wild. Turns out, he liked it and is keeping it up for the whole month for his family to enjoy. Phew! Copenhagen continues to enchant…hopefully the conference turns out just as well.

Photos by Emily Eisinger, Breeze Giannasio, Jody King, Chris Svetlick for washingtonian.com

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