Beauty = Detail. Glass visits Denmark’s Det Glade Vanvid restaurant with its architect Sofie Ladefoged

Tucked away on the harbour of Aarhus, side by side with semi-industrial buildings and next to a fishmonger, the black painted timber-clad shed seems rather inconspicuous, anonymous even. Only its brass signage reveals that this is in fact Det Glade Vanvid – one of the most hyped restaurants of the moment, offering a set menu and wine at a very reasonable price with a strict concept – all guests arrive at the same time and are served their three-course dinner at the same time. As such, the chefs compare the experience at it to a large dinner party. What the concept allows them to do is keep costs low and give staff the opportunity of shutting at 9.30 pm and thus sustaining a close to normal work-life balance.

Denmark's Det Glade Van'vid restaurant with its architect Sofie LadefogedThe entrance to the Det Glade Vanvid restaurant

Delicious as they appear, I am not here for the culinary temptations today, however, but in the company of the architect Sofie Ladefoged to visit the Det Glade Vanvid purely as an architectural gem and to talk about the values and ideas which form the concept. Sofie Ladefoged is a young architecture/design practice that, as this work proves, is something of a shooting star in the design world. Her enormous passion for design, coupled with her uncompromising attitude and an infectious enthusiasm, makes Sofie one to watch.

Denmark's Det Glade Van'vid restaurant with its architect Sofie LadefogedCloak room at Denmark’s Det Glade Vanvid restaurant

We enter via a small foyer with light oak lined walls. This room oozes warmth and the refined materiality and tactility gives it an immediately serenity. In fact, the contrasting effect of the shed-like, semi-industrial look of the exterior gives the feeling of being inside a giant piece of furniture, whilst simultaneously associating the space with mid-20th century architecture and design. Our conversation circles around the dilemma of both finding inspirations in the works of the old modernist masters, an inheritance that can often feel constraining to young Scandinavian architects and designers, and breathing new life into these classics.

Denmark's Det Glade Van'vid restaurant with its architect Sofie LadefogedThe dining room

Sofie is consciously working towards combining traditional design with our contemporary lifestyle and, as the restaurant interior reveals, the balancing act of honouring modernist traditions and pairing them with contemporary design creates something highly relevant in a modern restaurant.

Continuing into the restaurant’s dining room, I am overwhelmed by the stark contrasting effects created by continuing the black stained exterior timber cladding inside on three of the four walls. Large full-height and full-length openings in the fourth wall allow views to a small marina and simultaneously let in as much light as possible on this bleak winter afternoon. The effect of light and dark creates a sophisticated look and feel, although the gradation of this contrast could have been emphasised with a slightly softer palette, which would have created an interesting tension. This, however, would have eliminated some of the subdued drama that seems to exist in this calm yet simultaneously radical space.

Denmark's Det Glade Van'vid restaurant with its architect Sofie LadefogedThe bar at Det Glade Vanvid

The custom-made furniture is kept in a dark, almost black, colour which, combined with a highly evolved sense of materials, creates sensuousness. Your hand is allured towards the softness of the leather seating, the smoothness of the brass detailing and the warmth of the timber. Materials that will stand up to the heavy wear that is inevitable in a restaurant, yet still possess a fascination and elegance of their own. In Sofie’s own words, “You have to let the materials reflect what they essentially are and not mask them as something else – just as with food.”


Denmark's Det Glade Van'vid restaurant with its architect Sofie LadefogedThe bathroom door at Det Glade Vanvid

Sofie has paid an enormous attention to detail in this project, down to choosing what type of screws should be used and ensuring that the design concept is carried all the way through the space.

Denmark's Det Glade Van'vid restaurant with its architect Sofie Ladefoged A lamp at Det Glade Vanvid

The space was a given; the entrance door, the window and the connection to the kitchen, but Sofie has skilfully managed to enhance the essence of this barrack-like building and, at the same time, add the required finesse to make it an enjoyable space – the perfect backdrop to an exclusive culinary experience.

Denmark's Det Glade Van'vid restaurant with its architect Sofie Ladefoged Set tables at Det Glade Vanvid

Sofie Ladefoged has created a niche somewhere in the intersection between architecture and interior and the restaurant design proves her ability to securely manoeuvre in this field, where her passion and ability for the well-constructed details and flourishes and becomes beauty in its own right. The individual detail enhances the overall concept and the overall concept is reflected in the detail, creating a beautiful synergy.

by Runa Mathiesen

Det Glade Vanvid, Pakkerivej 2b, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
Tel: 8742 0123