It is indeed a great pleasure for me to be here in New York at the United Nations Headquarters for the official reopening of the Trusteeship Council Chamber and to celebrate the completion of the grand-scale renovation and refurbishing of one of the most iconic representations of Danish Design.
I have been looking very much forward to this day, where I have the honour of inaugurating the renovated chamber, with its new furniture specially designed to meet the current function of the chamber. It is important to note that the history of the chamber, with Finn Juhl’s original ideas and design principles have been respected and combined with the contemporary result that we see here today.
In June 2011, Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Prince Consort of Denmark visited when the rebuilding of the Chamber had just begun. While in New York, Her Majesty also awarded: Kasper Salto and Thomas Sigsgaard as the winners of the Danish Arts Foundation's Design Competition at the Museum of Modern Art. Giving them the honour and opportunity to design the furniture for the interior of this Chamber.
Despite not growing up in Denmark, I have quickly come to value and appreciate the many distinct qualities and values of Danish Design. In Denmark, design is part of our legacy – of being Danish – you could almost say that design is part of our DNA.
Denmark has an official design policy, a design centre, and the world’s largest cash design award: the Index Award. And for most Danish companies, design in all its aspects, plays a key role in the development of new products and services. Danish design continues to be very much in demand – for example, furniture exports to the US have grown as much as 27 percent in last year.
To me, Danish Design is characterised by the subtle, yet bold interplay of simple functionality and formal beauty. It combines the sustainable with the elegant. The aesthetic shaping of a mundane object, such as a chair or a table, goes hand in hand with close attention to light, materials, context and use.
Danish design has been world renowned since the time of Finn Juhl, when it was, here in the US, referred to as Danish Modern. But even though it is intrinsically embedded in the legacy of the early and mid-20th century, it continues to hold a strong vision fully equipped for design for the future.
The new furniture by Salto and Sigsgaard makes a friendly gesture to the past, while insisting on its own boldly visionary expression. It testifies to the fact that Danish Design continues to thrive, very much alive in its own, unique way.
All around the world, design continues to influence the lives of people. And design – perhaps more so than ever – has the power to play a transformative role in how dialogue is conducted in our global community. As this refurbished Chamber symbolises, Danish Design combines the qualities of being modern, cosmopolitan, democratic and respectful of human beings – it considers our immediate daily needs, as well as our complex cultural histories and dreams of a brighter future.
It is my hope that the friendly and open atmosphere of this chamber, designed with respect to the values at the heart of this international institution, will serve as a framework for many meetings and valuable intercultural conversations in the years to come. And, in its own way support the important work undertaken by the United Nations – working towards a world, where all nations live in peace, prosperity and understanding.
Mr. Secretary-General, I congratulate you and The United Nations on this very fine restoration work.