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Norm Architects focuses on quality, detail and durability. Respect the background of the project and build on the Scandinavian design tradition, timeless aesthetics, natural materials and the principles of restraint and sophistication that uphold modernism. Norm Architects' work is not only aesthetically high, but also open-minded. Architecture becomes thoughtful, minimalism gains softness, and visual materials acquire tactile qualities.
Yinji： What kind of opportunity prompted you to choose to establish Norm-Architects?
Norm：Our two founding partners Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen and Kasper Rønn Von Lotzbeck started Norm back in 2009 as a reaction to tendencies driving the design-industry at that time, which was very "loud" and trend driven. They wanted to work with the traditional Scandinavian norms and standards - standards that was already established by a long tradition, instead of rejecting them in the endless search for what is NEW - which at that time seemed to be the mantra for many young designers and producers.
Yinji：At the beginning of your establishment, how did you acquire clients/projects, quickly completed the brand communication of Norm-Architects, and now you have become a well-known Danish design firm.
Norm：We have always been aware of our design philosophy, and therefore we have been able to be very clear and unambiguous when expressing ourselves. Whether it's been through our product design, interior design or architecture, photography or interviews, the aesthetics we call ‘Soft Minimalism’ has been our driving force. The clients has always come to us because of that aesthetics and all our cases and projects helps underline our philosophy and brand. Having a specific and strong style and identity as a creative consultant means that a lot of clients will choose someone else, however, it also means that we’re allowed to work with what we love and the promise to the clients that do choose us, can be kept.
Another important factor is the photography, which has always been an important part of our DNA. Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen carries a love for seeing things through a camera lens and while we use it in our creative process on a daily basis, it has also meant that both our designs and architecture has been well documented, making it easy for the press to share our story and projects worldwide.
Yinji：Up to now, Norm-Architects has 5 co-founders. Would you like to talk about the management mode of Norm-Architects? How many employees does your company currently have? How do you control the design quality of the five different sectors of industry, residential, commercial, photography, and art?
Norm：We are currently 15 employees including one Managing Director, one Creative Director and 4 Creative Partners - 6 partners in total. The last 4 Creative Partners split on furniture and architecture/interior. The partners control the quality of output within their fields of work. The architects work equally on commercial and residential projects as we find both disciples exciting and rewarding. Photography and art is mostly driven by our Creative Director but is in general an interest among every employees at Norm and it is constantly intertwined in everything we do.
We decided from the beginning that we would not have a "one-name-studio", where one man on the top would have to sign everything off and clients and press would always expect that exact person to be present. We want our design to be the voice of Norm Architects and the people owning and working here, a group of kindred spirits enabling that to happen.
Yinji：We admire your dedication to design, is it convenient for you to talk about your design philosophy?
Norm：We call our design philosophy "Soft Minimalism" and it's deriving from the idea that Minimalism isn’t new or modern. For centuries, people have chosen minimalism as a form of inner luxury. From monks to spiritual leaders seeking a higher sense of wellbeing. Even craftsmen and inventors see distilling a design to its purist form, because eliminating the irrelevant means emphasizing the important.
Too often people think of architecture and design in terms of added spectacularness. But it is usually the most simple and unadorned that is the most striking. In our work, we aim for geometrical purity, whether we're design a chair or a kitchen. Something simple, natural and authentic which evokes a spatial sense of serenity. You can say that we want to arrive at the maximum of expressivity with the minimum of expression.
In an era where people are continuously bombarded with an avalanche of images, shapes and sounds, to capture the essence of something is the most eloquent form of expression. It’s not about designing less of products，or a room bereft of emotion. It’s about soft, streamlined shapes that invites you to engage with them. Spaces with room to welcome you. Products that not only fulfil a function – but also fill you with joy. In our obsessive attention to detail, we try to balance the visual, the tactile and the sensual to create the unusual. Our style is actually no style. Our designs are neither masculine nor feminine,they just are simple, minimal and enduring.
Yinji：The outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020 has a great impact on the global economy. How do you see the impact of the epidemic on design?
Norm：Regarding design, we have seen an immediate increase in requests for items that belong to the kitchen or gardens as people spend more time at home at the moment. We've obviously also seen some changes in the needs of various office projects. However, we believe that the need for simple and comfortable living, created through natural materials and tones, will not be less after the pandemic.
Yinji：Have you ever contacted Chinese owners before? Is it convenient to talk about your views on Chinese design?
Norm：We have never created residential projects in China, however, we have worked on retail and find that there is a great orientation towards not only Scandinavian Design, but also towards our general way of living, which is a very interesting movement.
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