Where am I?:^mistymornings-->Cycletouring-->Scandinavia 2006-->Day 22

Day 22 part 2. Sightseeing in Kolding.

The Castle with its mix of old and new (a perfect mirror to the town itself) inspired both of us. Damae grabbed the camera and took some photos of the first flight of stairs (as you do). These stairs led up into the start of the 'U' shaped exhibition halls, and on entering we were confronted with the first of the spiral staircases. Up the stairs and round the corner we walked on to one of two floors of hanging walkways.

The interior construction supporting the exterior and the hanging walkways consisted of huge laminated wooden columns, spreading out at the top into palm frond style supporting beams. The space was breathtaking, with the tops of the old walls not neatly finished or sanitised but in their crumbling glory. This was another piece of evidence supporting Denmark's reputation for design.

Whilst there is certainly plenty of ordinary design in Denmark we saw much less evidence of 'over-design'. This seems to be the Netherlands' greatest problem and symptoms of it can be seen in bike design. The two big producers Gazelle and Batavus have managed to produce aluminium touring bikes that weigh more than our very cheap steel framed ones. In a recent test by the ANWB a number of bikes were tested. All but one of them had aluminium frames, however the one with the steel frame was the lightest by far. In terms of having the best properties as a touring bike it won, but did not win overall because of its 'old fashioned styling'. Doh! Sore knees from unnecessary weight vs looks old fashioned? Is that not a 'no-brainer'?

Looking at the frame and baggage rack design on contemporary Dutch bikes I am reminded of the 'glory years' of North American car styling in the 1950's. The result is definitely new and different but ultimately only satisfying in the short term. Once you start looking at the design as a whole, it is clear that in 5 years time it will look horribly outdated. Also it is a waste of a material such as aluminium. Yes you can make an aluminium framed bike lighter than a steel one, but designers have chosen form over function, I guess for commercial reasons.

Still back to Denmark and the Danish bikes we saw were refreshingly classic in design. Perhaps the market is big enough to be economic but too small to start doing silly things with aluminium. Let's hope that the desire to produce classic and neat designs outweighs the Dane's desire for 'modernity'.

Returning to the Castle, it was hosting (among the permanent exhibitions) a large collection of Czech glassware. This was pleasingly displayed in large glass cabinets. Plenty of light came from outside and also from lighting in the building. It was a lovely experience. A number of pieces caught my eye and I made some mostly futile attempts to catch their beauty. As with a sunset you might get a stunning picture but it will never come close to showing even fifty percent of what you could see at the time with your own eyes.

Still Czech glassware is amazing (as far as I could see not over-designed), and if there is an exhibition near you then my advice is to go and see it. I'd also like to take a glass blowing and fabricating course as what can be done with glass is fascinating.

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