Danida’s Discovery Circles / Denmark


From the opening in Bella Center, experiencing the mango plantation room. From left: Ms. Eva Egesborg Hansen, Ms. Maiken Lyster Thonke, Mr. António Guterres, Mr. Christian Friis Bach, and HRH Crown Princess Mary.




50 anniversary exhibition: Danida’s Discovery Circles 

Client: Danida / Minisitry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Copenhagen

 credit_Claus Hessner

The 50 year anniversary of Danish development assistance was marked by an untraditional exhibition which will be seen by up to one million visitors. The theme of the exhibition is simple: significant, recent examples of Danish efforts in the world’s poor countries that have contributed to major and lasting progress.

The exhibition tours the country with a one week visit in seven shopping centres as well as one large national politics mass meeting. The central square of each shopping centre will host the exhibition which will be hard to miss with its more than 60 square meters and its remarkable looks.

The form is inspired by the visual identity of Danida

The form of the exhibition is based on elements of Danida’s corporate identity. Spatial elements in the form of circles of varying heights are used to create spaces that have an organic and inviting shape when viewed from the outside while creating an internal labyrinth of sensory rooms.

Skærmbillede 2014-08-28 kl. 20.41.2003_Danida_Lyngbystorcenter_Topviewcredit_Claus Hessner   Left: The view of the exhibition from 2nd floor in Lyngby Storcenter. Right: From the opening in Bella Center, HRH Crown Princess Mary gives her speech on the podium, Mr. Christian Friis Bach, Minister for Development Cooperation stands to the right.


Outside: A maze of discovery in a significant design

The pavilion consists of five intertwining and inviting circles of various heights which form a small maze of five circular “discovery rooms.”  To target the majority of visitors who will not visit the pavilion but only pass by, the onlooker is met by “tabloid headlines” with hard core facts on a selection of results of the Danish effort

04_Danida_Børn_leger_Lyngbystorcenter_marts2012credit_Claus Hessner   11_Danida_Folkemødet_Bornholm_juni2012

See the Circles live

Watch the video where the designer shows around in the exhibition “Danida’s Discovery Circles” (in Danish) here.

Inside: Traveling through five developing countries

Inside, the curious visitor is sent on a journey to five selected developing countries – and five different kinds of effort. In every room a life size panoramic picture of a certain situation surrounds the visitor: a school class, everyday life around the new well, the rice farmer now supporting himself on fish farming etc. One will find short texts with main facts of the background story and short selected “parallel cases” conveying similar results from other countries.

Furthermore, the exhibition is not just visual. In some rooms you will smell the mango plantation or the incense from the Bhutan monastery. You will hear the sounds of “the picture” in the room, watch a black-board become alive or you will find your feet in running water on the floor. On top of this, you may unfold your drawing talent, touch the harvest baskets, flick through school books, roll the monks’ prayer wheel, or try to lift twenty litres of water on your head in a Benin woman’s basin.

07_Danida_Piger_i_Lyngby_credit_Claus Hessner

IMG_1917   Cirkler11_Kulturnat__credit_Claus Hessner

IMG_1919    Cirkler9_Kulturnat__credit_Claus Hessner

Cirkler10_Kulturnat__credit_Claus Hessner

A world map gives an overview

Outside, a 2,4 meter wide, interactive map of the world shows the countries Denmark is particularly involved in. Touch buttons, lights, and examples will show the surprising progress throughout the past fifty years. Two touch screens will invite you to involve yourself in an online dilemma quiz on development assistance.

Cirkler15_Kulturnat__credit_Claus Hessner
Cirkler8_Kulturnat__credit_Claus Hessner    IMG_1938

 From the opening in Bella Center, looking at the world map. From left: Ms. Maiken Lyster Thonke, Designer of special Danida anniversary exhibition, Ms. Eva Egesborg Hansen, Head of Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, HRH Crown Princess Mary, Mr. Christian Friis Bach, Minister for Development Cooperation, mr António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Kristalina Georgieva, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Josette Sheeran, Executive Director for World Food Program.

shapeimage_19Nominated for Danish Design Award 

The Jury’s statement: Danida’s exhibition is an elegant and inviting way of designing a visually simple and robust exhibition to be set up in visually demanding contexts, for example in a shopping centre. The circles appear distinct and friendly, and the interior space of the exhibition manages to activate and appeal to children and adults alike.

Cirkler16_Kulturnat__credit_Claus Hessner

Facts / Institution: Udenrigsministeriet/Danida. Design and concept: graphic designer Maiken Lyster Thonke, Lysth. Manufacturer: Jysk Display.Text, support, PR: Publikum Sound design: Rune Holberg. Scent design: Ambient Idea.

Which towns? Danidas Discovery Cirkles has been exhibited in the following places: Bella Center, Lyngby Storcenter, Fields Copenhagen, Ishøj bycenter, Glostrup Center, Vestsjællands Center in Slagelse,  Brunns Gallerier in Århus, Ålborg Storcenter, Kolding Storcenter, Desing Centeret in Copenhagen and Folkemødet in Bornholm.

Photo credit on this page Danida, Claus Hessner and Maiken Lyster Thonke.