The difference in design sensibility between Denmark and Britain is apparent almost immediately on arrival. As improbable as it sounds, the process of arriving at Copenhagen airport is a pleasant experience. (And it only sounds unlikely as it is not a customer journey that we Brits have mastered, with the possible exception of T5 – although the teething problems in the weeks after opening raise certain questions about planning. The idea that the customer experience of foreigners, or indeed Brits, as they land on British soil might actually matter is little discussed, and certainly downgraded as a priority in favour of… doing it exactly the same way we always have done, with a few tweaks here and there?) That experience is of course reflective of trends and norms in the rest of Danish society. In short, things are well-designed, by which I mean carefully thought through and well-crafted, far more consistently than they are in Britain.
The difference is social. In some ways you might expect Scandinavian and British societies to respond to similar influences. We are all Northern Europeans, no doubt share some genetic strains. But just as those countries have a far more socialist, egalitarian history than our class-ridden one, they also have a highly democratic approach to how things are designed. Good design is not a luxury, or the preserve of wealth, it is for everyone, and expected by everyone. It is not just a question of being good at making things look pretty, but reflective of a greater degree of social equality. Hence a beautifully designed airport that functions well for cattle class and the fast-tracked VIP set alike.