Mette Barfod on Denmark’s next wave of innovative designers

January 15th, 2021
Written by:
Nikolai Kotlarczyk

Mette Barfod, Editor In Chief and Co-Founder of Ark Journal. Photo courtesy of Mette Barfod.

Mette Barfod, Editor In Chief of Ark Journal, is a member of the new Curator Advisory Board for The Mindcraft Project 2021.

Mette Barfod has long held a position as one of the leading voices on Danish design in print media and beyond. Her commitment to reflecting the strong history of Danish design – mixing this with the best of contemporary approaches to living, has never been more evident than through her beautifully realised design and architecture publication, Ark Journal.

Cover of Ark Journal vol. IV – photo courtesy of Ark Journal.

Situated within the historic C.F. Tietgen building in Copenhagen’s centre, the Ark Journal office acts as a mirror against the backdrop of nearby Amalienborg royal residence, and the contemporary spirit of the Danish capital. This unique location reveals itself as you pour through each edition of Ark Journal – a universe that exceptionally combines the historic values of mid-century design with modern experiments in materiality and form, as Barfod details;

“Material, form, craftsmanship and history. If you look at present day Danish designers, the tradition and evolution of the vocabulary established during the second half of the 20th century continues on steadily. Even though the expression is different, the DNA of this design heritage is still clear.”

From Ark Journal – photo courtesy of Ark Journal.

After working for many years alongside established design publications connected to Denmark’s biggest editorials, Ark Journal has given Barfod the freedom to express a more personal and meaningful side of Scandinavian lifestyle. As Editor In Chief and Co-Founder of the independently published biannual, it separates itself from contemporaries through a unique level of detail and expression. Each publication appears as a work of art, meticulously designed and detailed. The natural flow from spread to spread within each edition is a deliberate form of communication, as Barfod reveals;

“In Ark Journal we bridge architecture, design and art – trying to show them as an interplay rather than in silos…We celebrate good ideas, honest and inventive design, and materials that encourage critical debate. These are some of the same values we see in modern Danish design.”

Cover of Ark Journal vol. III – photo courtesy of Ark Journal.

This critical approach to design has allowed Barfod to gravitate towards, and share the work of some of Denmark’s most innovative and daring designers within her publication. With a focus on process and craft, Barfod believes the work of Denmark’s next wave of innovative designers can act as an expedient towards a shift within the global design landscape;

“I believe we will see the borders between design, art and craft start to dissolve – with craftsmanship becoming a new luxury. We will see more and more sustainable design experiments – currently conducted by small and medium-sized companies and designers, taken up by larger design companies in order to fight for sustainability in the years to come.”

Cover of Ark Journal vol. IV – courtesy of Ark Journal.

Although Ark Journal places great emphasis on these larger global issues, it is the scale of the human senses that bring the publication to life. Barfod has expertly crafted a printed expression of materiality, light and tactility that helps portray the true notions of Scandinavian life to a growing global audience, as she describes;

“My idea with Ark Journal was to make a Scandinavian design and interior magazine with architecture at its core, but to consider it within the broader context of our lives. It is a reflection of a more humanistic side, celebrating tactility and our own individual dimensions.”