Denmark is a small Scandinavian country of about 5 million people, and recently it has become known for high levels of happiness and quality of life. For such a small country, Denmark has contributed quite a lot to the world over the years, but many of its exports aren’t immediately associated with Danish-ness. Here are six things you maybe didn’t know were Danish.
Many children around the world are familiar with these multicoloured plastic bricks, as well as the hit film The Lego Movie. Fewer people are probably aware that the brand Lego began in a carpenter’s workshop in Billund, Denmark and were originally wooden toys. The word LEGO is an abbreviation of the Danish phrase “leg godt” which means “play well”. The company maintains its headquarters in Billund, which is also the home of the theme park Lego Land.
I dare you to find me one person who is not familiar with the song “Barbie Girl” by Aqua regardless of personal music preferences. Three out of four of the band’s members are Danish (Lene Nystrøm is Norwegian) and the band was formed in Denmark. Today, all four members are still living in Denmark having had their own individual successes in the music business. Sweden isn’t the only Scandinavian country capable of producing catchy pop songs!
3. THE LOUDSPEAKER
On Christmas Eve in 1915, 75,000 people stood in front of the City Hall in San Francisco in anticipation of the demonstration of the world’s first loudspeaker, designed by Peter L. Jensen. Born in Denmark in 1886, Jensen was regarded as the Danish Edison in the United States. Nearly one hundred years after that Christmas Eve in San Francisco, one of the most expensive loudspeaker brands still goes under the name Jensen.
4. THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE
Okay this one is technically Australian, but it was designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon in 1957 – the winner of an international design competition. The venue was formally opened on 20 October 1973, taking 10 years more than expected to complete. Today it is considered Utzon’s masterpiece and is one of the most iconic symbols of Sydney and of Australia. The Sydney Opera House is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site as of 2007.
If you’ve been experiencing wanderlust, it’s possible you’ve used Momondorecently. Momondo is a travel search engine based in Copenhagen that allows users to find and compare prices on airplane tickets, hotels, and cars. It does not sell tickets directly on the site but provides an overview of available providers and prices, allowing customers to chose the best and most attractive deal. The company was launched in 2006 as a flight search engine only but has since expanded into vacation packages, hotels, cars, and travel deals.
6. THE EGG CHAIR
You might even be sitting in one of these now; the egg chair is an iconic piece by Danish furniture designer Arne Jacobsen. It was designed in 1958 for the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen in typical Jacobsen style, using state-of-the-art material. The chair has since popped up in a variety of venues around the world, and has been subject to imitation.
These are just a few Danish innovations, but there are many more. Regardless of whether you knew these were all Danish or not, it’s easy to see that Denmark’s contributions to the world are numerous.