Over lunch of schnaps, herring, paté and beer, Karen tells Gill about her childhood. Gill’s, that is. Karen was the au pair for her family 50 years ago, and has many stories to tell about Life with the Lipsons, most of them new to Gill. Karen met Peter, her husband, in London then. He was a Danish cabinet-maker working over here, and they’ve been together ever since. Guests at their home near Faaborg, south-west Fyn, we are treated handsomely, shown the countryside and town, and plied with exquisite food and drink. And Gill’s early life.

After cabinet-making, Peter became a designer and architect, and inventor. In his studio and workshop he shows us some of his ideas and products: a hair-treatment hood (hundreds of them, boxed and ready to go); a vacuum-pillow for radiology treatment; a wood-and-magnet, er, thing, that rolls around inside cows’ stomachs and collects all the bits of metal that they swallow with their grass; a simple sprung clip that stops your walking stick from sliding over onto the floor; a calf-feeding tube, a cat-pill-squirter, a pig-inseminator….

But his invention that even I (no great animal-lover) know already – though, sorry, it still makes me laugh – is the lampshade pet-collar, that stops animals from licking biting chewing fiddling with their dressings. Cats, dogs, rabbits, budgies the world over wear them (not fish or snakes though. But I like the idea of, say, a rhinoceros wearing one). Without a hang-dog face looking piteously out, I take this design seriously…

In Copenhagen I’m in the Design Centre, in the exhibition Hello Materials. There’s an alternative plastic made from fish-scales, artificial bone-growth material, floor-coverings made from recycled trainers, paint that lights up on your skin, soft stuff that goes hard on impact… exciting, cutting-edge, sustainable materials from the world’s scientists, inventors and designers.

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