Home - Brand x (Place)
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International Place Branding Conference
— Architecture, Design, Politics
At Kolding School of Design Denmark

Next Conference Date TBA

Can a place be a brand?

Over the past twenty years or so, our awareness of branded logic has become pervasive in all aspects of our lives. Almost everyone can name global multinational corporations and describe an associated set of values for speciic companies merely by seeing their logos. While this may seem benign enough, when contrasted with the fact that relatively few people can name the types of trees that exist around them based on the physical characteristics of the bark and leaves, it demonstrates how a fundamental understanding of brand – and the ubiquity of brand imagery – has fundamentally displaced humankind’s connection with nature itself. For example, five hundred years ago, if one didn’t have a strong understanding of the plants & trees that surrounded them, they would be in danger.


People – once thought of as mere “celebrities” – have joined things, objects, and products in the realm of brand logic and preservation. Indeed, individuals with a global proile now have “brand management” teams that rival medium size corporations, complete with all of the trappings of brand infrastructure including mission statements, guidelines documents & social media strategies.


More recently, cities have begun to behave more like brands, as global competition for a tax base & talented workforce has caused municipalities to invest in their image and reputation. Certainly places like New York City, Melbourne, London and Singapore now not only behave like brands, they have unified visual expressions that resemble large global financial institutions or multinational corporations.

Increasingly, regions, Nations, groups of countries unified by trade or culture, or even geographies are emerging as brands in their own right. It’s not hard, for example, for us to imagine what a brand for “The Sahara” might look like and how it could be pitched to a global tourism market.


Arising alongside contemporary discourses on architecture and design is a relatively new phenomenon of “Place Branding.” This emergent discipline is beginning to operate on an increasingly large scale and has become the dominant organizing logic for how countries, landscapes, regions and municipalities communicate to the world.


On the scale of countries and regions, branding has displaced ideology as the unifying narrative for a shared set of national principles. In cities, branding has become at least as viable as the discipline formerly known as “urban planning” and is indeed faster, cheaper, and without the baggage of the excesses of 20th Century modernist practices. At the same time, many ambitious municipalities have found branding to be a useful tool in changing the conversation regarding districts facing challenges related to public perception, economic viability, and civic value.


While branding historically has been thought of as a marketing device, or more crassly, simply “to sell,” can we now begin to think of BRAND x (Place) as a mechanism to help create exchange and value. What if branding, usually aligned strictly with corporate interests, could now be used to identify, promote, and visualize a larger public good?


09:00 — Welcome & Coffee
09:30 — Opening Address from Elsebeth Gerner Nielsen (DSK)
09:45 — David Zahle (BIG)
10:30 — Ulrik Jungersen (Kolding Municipality)
11:15 — Christian Pagh & Mads Quistgaard (Urgent)
12:00 — Student Group 1
12:30 — Lunch
13:30 — Student Group 2
14:00 — Keynote: Jarl Frijs–Madsen (Consul General in New York)
14:45 — Martin Gran (Snøhetta)
15:30 — Hunter Tura (Bruce Mau Design)
16:15 — Closing & Thanks
16:30 — Reception with Drinks & Snacks



Start x End:
9AM — Welcome coffee
5PM — Networking reception



The honourable Jarl Frijs-Madsen, Ambassador, Consul General in New York will bring his highly regarded experience and perspective to the topics of the conference. His key note address will focus on his current work, “How to Brand Denmark in New York” or “Sådan brandes Danmark i New York.” Ambassador Frijs-Madsen has been dealing with Nation Branding for 15 years in different positions in the MFA including his current position and formerly as Under-Secretary for Foreign Trade and Investment.


Hunter is President and Chief Executive Officer of Bruce Mau Design where he is responsible for the overall strategic direction of the firm, global recruiting and business development. His passion is for building truly great teams, helping develop strategies and driving growth for clients and brands. Over the course of the past two decades, he has worked with business, cultural and design leaders from organizations such as Coca-Cola, GE, Unilever, Nike, Prada, Procter & Gamble, Holt Renfrew, New World Development, Estée Lauder Companies, Harvard University, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, the AT&T Center for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center and the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts on a range of brand initiatives. Tura is currently a member of the Board at the Van Alen Institute, a Trustee of the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum Alliance in Manhattan, and a member of the Editorial Board for TASSMEEM, published by VCU Qatar & the Qatar Foundation.

SNØHETTA x Martin Gran

Martin is one of the partners in Snøhetta Design and has been CEO since February 2010. Before that, he was Scandinavian Design Group’s New Business Director and Strategic Advisor with responsibility for major brands in Europe and the Nordic region.
In 2006 he worked at McCann Erickson New York with clients like Master Card and Air Canada.
From 2000 to 2003, Martin was an Account Director at Leo Burnett Advertising Agency.


David Zahle is a Partner at BIG and the Project and Design Architect responsible for many of BIG’s award winning projects. David’s most recently completed project is the Danish Maritime Museum in Helsingør. His collaboration with Bjarke Ingels began in 2002 with the VM Residences. His projects include the Helsingør Psychiatric Hospital, the Stavanger Concert House, which was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale 2004 and the Magnakil Education Centre in the Faroe Islands. David has overseen the design of many prominent projects including a new art gallery and sculpture park in Norway, the Qingdao Science Museum, the Experimentarium competition in Copenhagen and the prize winning Amagerforbrænding, currently under construction.

URGENT x Christian Pagh & Mads Quistgaard

Mads Quistgaard and Christian Pagh are founding partners of Urgent, a design and strategy consultancy specializing in turning cultural insight and spatial analysis into creative solutions with a lasting impact. Mads Quistgaard is a specialist in connecting design practice and strategy and has been driving a broad range of design and branding projects for clients including d’Angleterre, Novo Nordisk, The Danish Parliament, Tate Modern, Bang & Olufsen, Arla and the Danish Broadcasting Corporation. He has 15 years of professional experience, including 3 as Creative Director at Kontrapunkt. Christian Pagh is a specialist in the interaction between culture, architecture and urban planning with substantial experience in turning site-specific qualities into creative and value-adding design solutions. With more than 10 years of hands-on experience, Christian has been in charge of  a variety of planning projects with cities, companies and organizations. Clients include Carlsberg, Microsoft, Volkswagen, Solstra Capital, BIG and the City of Copenhagen. 


As leader of the design secretary in the municipality, Ulrik and his team plays an important role in implementing the vision, Kolding – We Design for Life in the organisation, in business life and in the society in general. Over the course of the past two decades, he has worked with creative business development and design entrepreneur’s. As former Head of Department at the Design School Kolding, he got devoted to design education, and he is a strong believer in design competences will contribute with vital knowledge and praxis for future challenges in societies round the globe.


Next Date: TBA