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When’s the last time you bought a wooden toy? Classic Danish design brand Kay Bojesen Denmark is here to make sure you have a few more in your life. In Denmark, you might be surprised by how many wooden figurines can be found in the typical home. These aren’t your typical toys, however. Instead, they’re beautifully-designed and thoughtful items that Danes love to give as gifts for various major occasions.
Kay Bojesen Denmark is a Danish company that produces the woodwork of designer Kay Bojesen. Bojesen, who worked for Georg Jensen as a silversmith in addition to his wood designs, started by creating a small collection of wood animals to inspire children to have fun. Rather than focus on realism or meticulous details, Bojesen was concerned with how the item felt – it should be soft yet durable – and the joy it communicated to the user, whether that be a child or adult.
Nearly a century after Kay Bojesen designed the first piece (the horse in 1930), Kay Bojesen Denmark’s collection of charming animals and other wooden figures has grown to include reproductions of the designer’s Danish soldiers, alphabet blocks, and much more. They’re often given as gifts for a variety of special days, from baby showers to weddings, and are an ideal souvenir.
These are our favorite Kay Bojesen Denmark Danish wood figurines for every occasion:
What to give as a birth or baby shower present
All of Kay Bojesen Denmark’s items are child-friendly, but there are a few that are especially popular for baby showers, birth presents, or birthday parties for young children. The Alphabet Blocks (Alfabetklodser) are a classic, designed in the 1950s and popular ever since. The blocks themselves are in straight and curved shapes that can be used to make letters, or just to build and have fun. They come in a wooden box with a sliding opening, making them easy to store and visually appealing when not in use.
What to give as a graduation present
When students graduate from high school in Denmark, they are given spiffy little white hats that they continue to wear through the summer. It’s not unusual to see strangers in the street congratulate a hat-wearing student: it symbolises that you’ve hit a major life milestone.
Kay Bojesen Denmark’s animals can be outfitted with painted wooden graduation hats and they look adorable. The classic monkey with a graduation cap placed jauntily on his head can anyone smile.
What to give as a wedding present
Although any of the classic animals are a lovely idea as a wedding gift, the turtle doves are a traditional and charming gift that symbolises love and will fit in with any decor thanks to the raw wood finish.
What to give as a Christmas present
As with the graduation hats, Kay Bojesen Denmark makes Christmas elf hats that can be put on any of the animals to transform your usual decor into holiday decor. Put the monkey you already have hanging from your shelf in his little elf hat and it’s instant Christmas, without being too twee or over-the-top.
What to give as a birthday present, thank you present, or just-because present
Is your best friend’s favorite animal an elephant? Does your mom collect birds? Many people have a connection to some kind of animal; give them something special with the Kay Bojesen Denmark version of their chosen mammal or bird.
For the dog-lovers among us, the dachshund in dark walnut wood is a treat.
For an animal that has a touch of silliness about it, we recommend the puffin, with it’s large eyes and colorful beak.
There are so many other animals and figurines, from the black and white striped zebra to the sleek old fashioned cars, that suit every age and type of decor. Find the one that speaks to you or someone you love. The lovely thing about Kay Bojesen items is that they create moments that become stories, and then remind us of those stories as they live with us in our homes. When you give one as a gift, you’re giving that story, too.
The best Danish souvenir to take home
The two most classic take-home items are the monkey and the Danish soldier (called the Standard Bearer).
The monkey comes in four sizes, from mini to large; it’s a design that has been popular since its launch in 1951. The monkey was originally designed as a coat rack for children, as the long arms would make the “peg” of the hand low enough for a child to hang a coat. The curled feet were for hats and scarves. Check the mechanics of this on your own coat rack at home; it works!
Because the monkey is rendered in natural wood, it’s a gift that fits into most decor styles and is somewhat minimalist, despite the fact that it’s also got an air of silliness (Bojesen thought that the lines in a product should “smile.”). It’s also small enough to transport, even in its box, so taking it back in a suitcase is easy.
The Standard Bearer is a bit longer. The cloth Danish flag and cardboard sentry box are sweet details that add to the charm of the soldier; it’s very much a souvenir, but a high-quality one that you’ll love having remind you of your trip.
How to style Kay Bojesen Denmark in your home
The Kay Bojesen Denmark figurines are so high-quality that they’re easy to style almost anywhere in your home. For minimalists or those that don’t usually have “tchotchkes” around the house, these are the perfect gateway item: Danish design, possible to get in a natural wood color, and small. Hallways, kitchens, and bookshelves can all benefit from a little bit of Bojesen. Take a look at how we’re dotting them around the house:
See the full menagerie over at Kay Bojesen Denmark.
Photography by Freya August.
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