The Owner of This Denmark Restaurant Loves Talking to New People Every Day

Mikkel Havmand of Godtfolk
credit: Nicole Mason

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Who: Mikkel Havmand of Godtfolk
Where: Vesterbro, Copenhagen, Denmark Style: Cozy retro Danish design

You don't have to speak Dutch to understand that Godtfolk, the name of Mikkel Havmand's restaurant right on H. C. Andersens Boulevard, in Old Town Copenhagen, means "good folk." The casual, welcoming air to the place underscores the name. This is Danish design that is less minimalism, more coziness — and yet, not quite what we embrace as hygge. The inspiration is the Golden Age of Danish design — from the '40s to the '70s, says Havmand, but with an undefined, international feel.

Godtfolk
credit: Nicole Mason

Havmand's background is in digital advertising, which he left after 15 years to find something more fulfilling. "One of the reasons for starting the café was for me to come back to one of my favorite roles in life — being a host and having the possibility of talking to new and interesting people every day," says Havmand. "That's exactly what Godtfolk is all about. Making people feel comfortable." Indeed, the menu reads, "Welcome good people. Ready for dinner?"

The moody interior is in stark contrast to what most people think of when they think of Scandinavian design — the spare, all-white interiors and light wood. "We wanted to create a cave-like atmosphere, so all walls are painted midnight blue," explains Havmand. They embraced true vintage accents. "For this project, it was important that the place shouldn't appear as new, so furniture we primarily bought as secondhand." There are also high-end pieces, IKEA pieces, and custom tables. The bar was rebuilt completely.

Godtfolk
credit: Nicole Mason

That said, the clean, modern lines are all there — along with the functional simplicity that is a hallmark of vintage Danish design.

Godtfolk sits at the bottom of the Hotel Alexandra, with which it shares a certain sensibility. There, says the hotel's general manager, Jeppe Mühlhausen, the goal is to "make our guests feel like they are staying with a Danish-design-loving friend in Copenhagen." The hotel is filled with iconic Danish furniture and accessories dating back to the '50s and '60s, with specific designer-inspired suites — including one that is reimagined regularly.

Lobby of the Hotel Alexandra
credit: Nicole Mason

But where the hotel is reverential, Godtfolk takes a different approach. "We are not fanatic in terms of design," says Havmand. "We want things that works and creates the best atmosphere."

It is the good folk, after all, who are the focus.

Godtfolk
credit: Nicole Mason

"Tobias Jacobsen is a very good friend of ours, and he took the lead in creating the interiors of Godtfolk," says Havmand. "Tobias loves to work with interiors and decoration, and sees the process like an artist painting a picture paying close attention to all the details." The space is filled with a quirky collection of art and accessories that make it feel at once curated and personable. "We at Godtfolk believe that the best things are made 'con amore,' so Tobias was our obvious choice — he is a designer by heart."

Godtfolk
credit: Nicole Mason

The wall hanging that sits center stage above a banquette is by José Cardos for GUR. "It was love at first sight when we saw the rug," says Havmand. "We felt it demanded a special and a bit isolated place in the café."

Godtfolk
credit: Nicole Mason
Godtfolk
credit: Nicole Mason
Godtfolk
credit: Nicole Mason
Godtfolk
credit: Nicole Mason
Godtfolk
credit: Nicole Mason

Each tabletop has a unique bud vase, many of them secondhand.

Godtfolk
credit: Nicole Mason
Godtfolk
credit: Nicole Mason

The print above the dining table, with its charmingly mismatched chairs, is by surrealist painter Frank Moth. It's called "Bloom."

Godtfolk
credit: Nicole Mason
Godtfolk
credit: Nicole Mason

Also gracing the walls is a portrait of actor Patrick Swayze — decked out as a Russian general. "Godtfolk translates to 'good people' and in our world that also means people that we admire — and Patrick is most certainly a person we admire," says Havmand. The print is by replaceface.

Godtfolk
credit: Nicole Mason

Above the bar, a sketch of the late Anthony Bourdain, by Tara Faul.

Godtfolk
credit: Nicole Mason

The bar is softly lit by several polished copper pendants — Utzon JU1 by Jørn Utzon, available at &tradition.

Godtfolk
credit: Nicole Mason
Godtfolk
credit: Nicole Mason
Godtfolk
credit: Nicole Mason

While the art shines, plants play a supporting role, making the space feel homey and personable. The snake plant, for one, is called, "Pete." "So far Pete is the only plant that has been named," says Havmand. "I'm sure more will follow, since they have all have personalities."

Godtfolk
credit: Nicole Mason

For Havmand, the magic of the space is how it changes during the day. "For peace and quiet, I like the sofas next to the courtyard — you can't hear the busy street and have a direct view to the courtyard and the surrounding buildings," he says. In the morning, he prefers to sit at the bar to enjoy the busy atmosphere of locals and hotel guests starting their day. It's a space designed to accommodate different moods, different times. "Godtfolk is for all good people," he says. "Just come as you are."


Laura Lambert

Laura Lambert

Laura Lambert is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor who covers lifestyle, design, and women's health.