Solvang has long offered a glimpse into traditional Danish foods, costumes and architecture. Today, The Copenhagen House, 1660 Copenhagen Dr., offers visitors a look at modern Danish design and products.
“Even though the building outside is the old-style, traditional Solvang look, the inside shows the modern part of Denmark. I’m Danish, but I’ve lived in Solvang 30 years. I think we needed that, so I’m definitely excited to be a part of it,” said The Copenhagen House Manager ElseMarie Lund Petersen.
Owner/developer Rene Gross Kaerskov transformed the nearly 100-year-old Santa Ynez Valley Bank building into a space that serves as a sort of hall of fame for Danish brands, from Pandora to LEGO. While the exterior retains the traditional Solvang style, the interior features Danish design in furnishing and flooring inspired by Copenhagen Airport.
“The idea is that it would be like the duty-free area with different areas potentially available to different merchants. There are roll-down doors so vendors could have different hours, but we’ve expanded into the whole space,” Petersen said.
The Copenhagen House carries only Danish brands, such as Normann Copenhagen, Holmegaard, Arena Copenhagen, Dark Blond, Rosendahl Copenhagen, Stelton, Pantone, Menu, and Georg Jensen.
“I think people just love coming in. What I hear again and again is people take time and look around and try to figure out what the different things in Moda are for. They’re fascinated by it,” Petersen said.
The brightly lit, modern interior houses a merchandise collection modeled after high-end Copenhagen favorite Illums Bolighus.
“When people come to The Copenhagen House, we want them to have the type of shopping experience they’d have going into this beautiful Danish store,” Petersen said.
Unique to The Copenhagen House is the 800-pound, 10-foot-tall statue of the Danish mythical hero, Holger Danske. Carved of American cedar by Danish Days woodworking artists George Kenny and Dan Whited, the roughly hewn Viking warrior sits, arms crossed, sword in hand, keeping an eye on the place and its visitors, a promise to come to the rescue “if the Danishness of Solvang ever gets in trouble.”
It’s a fun addition to the location, which celebrated its 2015 opening with a ribbon cutting by Peter Taksoe-Jensen, Danish ambassador to the United States.
“When visitors come here, they get a little bit of history, a little good feeling of what Danish design is. A lot of people love finding out LEGO is a Danish company, and that the Pandora charm bracelet they’ve been wearing for five years is Danish. A lot of people don’t realize these are Danish companies,” Petersen said.
The location also features the Great Hall of Danes with displays of Nordic daggers and Viking War uniforms, as well as The Copenhagen House’s own amber museum.
“The House of Amber was founded in Denmark in 1933. They are definitely known as a high-end amber store. We were lucky enough to get House of Amber into The Copenhagen House. They also have a museum in their store, and it worked out perfectly for us to use the old vault for our own museum,” Petersen said.
There are hand-made Danish clogs, Danish toys from LEGO to Hoptimist, furnishings, dish ware, lighting, jewelry, watches, gifts and more. And The Copenhagen House is the first Bering Time concept store in the United States.
“Danes on vacation come in and get really excited to see all the designs here, and they are very proud that we have it here,” Petersen said.