Located on one of the oldest streets in Copenhagen stands a former distillery built in 1795. Inside, there’s a bright, inspiring space where Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen, Kasper Rønn and the rest of the Norm Architects team are creating history of their own.
Early in their careers, Jonas and Kasper worked for large architectural firms, but they craved work that better satisfied their creative needs. In 2008, they founded their design firm with the aim of creating furniture, architecture and interiors in keeping with the Scandinavian norms of simplicity, craftsmanship and timelessness.
“Our work has become more refined over the years,” says Jonas. “When we started, there were things we wanted to do, but it takes time to develop the necessary skills.” Fortunately for them, as they were honing their ability to bring smart thinking and thoughtful solutions to how people live, the design world was also evolving, and in ways that suited them perfectly.
“It used to be that Scandinavian design influenced American interiors, but now it’s swinging the other way around,” says Kasper. “The more eclectic, softer approaches in America are influencing design in Scandinavia and Europe.”
This aesthetic shift can be seen in the exclusive pieces Jonas and Kasper created for DWR. Their earlier works – Finn Outdoor and Folk Ladder Shelving – are more rectilinear and simple in form. “We used to start with the geometry,” says Jonas, “but the way we work now is much more dynamic.”
Case in point: the design of the new Nora Lounge Chair, which took three years, a dozen prototypes and 20 sit tests until it was perfect. “It was interesting for us as architects because this chair was more like sculpture,” says Kasper. “We molded and sanded it with our hands to create a shape that you can lean into, sit into and let embrace you, but that’s also simple and modern.”
The fact that Nora is ideally suited to the warmer, more eclectic approach to residential and commercial spaces today stems from what Jonas and Kasper refer to as “soft minimalism.” Instead of simply paring things down, the goal is to remove everything unnecessary and then add back only what’s needed to give an object the life and character it needs. The result is a product that can stand out and blend in at the same time.
“Striking this balance between character and anonymity is very difficult, but that’s what makes it timeless,” says Jonas. “If we get it right, the object is beautiful and helps people feel at home for a very long time, and there’s something amazing about that.”
“We’re happiest when we see our products used and enjoyed,” says Kasper. “That’s when they come to life.”