Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is recognized as the world’s happiest city and boasts the best welfare system in Northern Europe. The city is brimming with a spirit of community that trades in fierce competition for active and free discourse. This galvanized exchange of ideas has resulted in a highly creative culture that is fueled by true collaboration. As the pivotal center of the Danish modern aesthetic since the 1950s, Copenhagen remains an iconic powerhouse in the Nordic region, particularly as a pioneer in furniture, architectural, and daily product design. Stealing the limelight as a forward-looking metropolis in everything from cuisine and fashion into the aughts, the world is now drawn to the cosmopolis by the New Nordic Food Manifesto, which emphasizes the significance of local ingredients, and Copenhagen Fashion Week, which uses its voice to promote sustainability as a core ambition.
After the onset of the COIVD-19 pandemic, choosing topics for B has become challenging. We took a more conservative approach on what B has done so far, catching our breath to really reflect. This soul-searching extended to our annual city issue, with our editors contemplating whether it would be appropriate to even publish an issue about a global city at a time when travel is heavily restricted, or what content, if published, we could feature in the issue. In the end, we ran with it. Why? Because cities are a unit of measurement for lifestyle, cultural infrastructure, and social safety nets, and they are a standard by which quality of life and happiness are measured. As the pandemic rages on, today provides a chance for us to see the true character of a city, stripped of the glamour and distractions of tourism.
In this sense, Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is the perfect city for us to cover—so perfect that some might say it is incredibly predictable or even prosaically idyllic since the city has consistently topped surveys on happiness and quality of life and is a name that falls on our ears like a fantastic legend that singlehandedly created the archetype of the utopian Nordic welfare model. But B chose Copenhagen for other reasons, which were largely influenced by the editors’ experience in the city. It was around this time last year when B was preparing for The Home special issue. It was less than four months into the outbreak of the pandemic. Our editors requested interviews with people in cities across the globe, and of those, it was Copenhageners who showed us the most enthusiastic and warm reception. Indeed, they replied quite simply:
“Of course! Why not?”
“Sure! How can I help you?”
What is it that makes an entire city of people keep calm and inject positive energy into their surroundings in this time of grave uncertainty and entropy? Our curiosity was piqued by those first few Copenhageners we met, and this naturally led to an intense desire to know more about the city, digging deep into the city for coverage. I partially satiated my curiosity while speaking with Copenhageners in the culinary arts, fashion, design, and urban development. It seems that they all report feeling satisfied thanks to the highly organized, efficient national and municipal systems, which in turn, serve as driving forces behind unique cosmopolitan dynamics like having a “winning mentality.” Just like an athlete can keep winning competitions as they ride the wave of previous victories and strong self-belief, Copenhageners also unequivocally believe in themselves and such belief is turned into reliable relationships that closely bond communities and neighbors.
“No matter how big your ambition is, you need to start small and gradually nurture it.” I think that this statement, among other morsels of life wisdom we heard from Copenhageners, best epitomizes the city. Case in point: innovations across various fields in the capital city are spread by individuals with brilliant ideas rather than large amounts of capital or a select group of elites. It seems like the people there are well-trained to grapple with issues by looking at small units and making incremental change. Trailblazing restaurants have sprung up in a place that used to be perceived as a gastronomic hinterland, the issue of sustainable fashion is more hotly debated in Copenhagen than any other city across the globe, and lifestyle products with an emphasis on community continue to inspire corporations and brands. These are the grand results of many individuals and many small efforts to thoroughly reflect on life and make improvements.
Content & Editorial Director