By Helen Russell
Denmark has long been described as a “design society,” and good design and craftsmanship have been integral to the Danish way of life since the 1920s, when the government decided that design was a priority, integral to well-being and happiness. Since then, Danes have invested in public art and sculpture as well as the design schools that have produced some of the greatest designers of the 20th century. Specialising in the connection between form and function, Danish craftsmen have placed a strong emphasis on natural materials that are hard-wearing yet beautiful, such as wood, stone, wool—and leather.
Børge Mogensen made use of leather in his iconic Spanish chair; Poul Kjærholm used it to create his famous PK22 lounge chair; and the leather version of Arne Jacobsen’s Egg chair has been popular for generations.
“Denmark has a real legacy of using leather in furniture design because it ages beautifully and it’s really versatile,” explains Jeppe Dencker of the Copenhagen-based LeatherProjects. “Then, in the 1970s, leather enjoyed a revival in Denmark in terms of fashion, with Copenhageners embracing the trend and companies such as Graae [the famous Danish leather brand whose clients have included members of Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones] getting big.”
Danish leather tends to be imported from Italy, and today there are very few craftsman working with leather in Denmark. So Dencker saw a gap in the market: “I’ve always loved leather, and so I wanted to develop a sort of 21st century craftsmanship using the best traditional methods and combining them with modern techniques such as laser cutting.” Dencker set up his own company, LeatherProjects, in 2011 to do just that, and it was his stylish, contemporary approach to high-quality craftsmanship that first drew the eye of Skagen senior concept designer Frederik Thrane.