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Normann Copenhagen’s Poul Madsen On The Allure Of Danish Design

The co-founder discusses creating balance and happiness through great furniture.

October 4, 2021

Defined by svelte silhouettes, sturdy forms, an irresistible comfortability and an overall minimalist approach that serves as a wonderful contrast to the bustling energy that envelopes the city, it’s no wonder that Scandinavian furniture and accessories have become among the most coveted across homes in Hong Kong. They can turn austere abodes into soothing havens—and over the last year, have rapidly made their way into office spaces, too.

Poul Madsen | Photo: Normann Copenhagen

Poul Madsen, co-founder of award-winning Danish contemporary design company Normann Copenhagen, observed that surge in popularity and demand, especially across Asia. That’s why he and co-founder Jan Andersen decided that, following Manila and Guangzhou, Hong Kong was to be their third Asia outpost in two years for a mono-brand flagship (the brand had previously opened The Nordic Room by Homeless in Hong Kong). The result is an expansive 2,000 sq. ft. flagship which opened this summer in Wan Chai’s Queen’s Road East, decorated with the brand’s iconic original and designer-collaborated collections spanning furniture, lighting, textiles and accessories—from the Form chair in blush pinks and baby blues, to the soft and curvy Hyg two-seater sofa, and the cute-as-can-be Little Bird decorative figurines in a family of six, inspired by designer Jan Christian Delfs’ own.

Allez Chair | Photo: Normann Copenhagen

Look a little closer, and you’ll find each creation’s story runs a little deeper than their playful details and modern appeal. Normann Copenhagen is backed by a sustainable ethos to minimise carbon footprint and prolong each product’s lifespan; many of the materials used are innovations made from recyclable or recycled industrial and ocean waste, including the newly unveiled Oceanic, an ultra-durable upholstery fabric crafted from 100% post-consumer recycled polyester from the likes of plastic bottles floating in our oceans—in fact, four metres of the fabric equals 1kg of waste removed from the ocean. Pieces like the latest Allez chair are also able to be taken apart to be recycled or partially replaced so to minimise the impact on the environment.

New store in Hong Kong | Photo: Normann Copenhagen

A few weeks ago, we had a chance to sit down with co-founder Madsen to chat about the brand's new Hong Kong flagship, creating sustainable products, and the concept of hygge—plus how to bring that into our living spaces through design.

Congratulations on the beautiful showroom in Hong Kong! Here, Scandinavian design has been gaining a devoted fan base over the past several years. Why do you think now’s a good time to open Normann Copenhagen’s first flagship in the city?

In recent years, we’ve certainly noticed a growing interest in Danish design in the Chinese market, and as the Normann Copenhagen brand has been grown internationally, it seemed obvious that our next expansion should be based in Asia. With the opening of new mono-brand stores in key locations such as in Hong Kong, and Guangzhou, we now have the opportunity to position the Normann Copenhagen brand directly in front of our customers. It has been something we’ve been looking forward to and we’re very excited about it.

BIT Stool | Photo: Normann Copenhagen

How would you describe the brand’s design philosophy and how has it evolved over the years?

Normann Copenhagen aims to challenge conventional thinking and make the ordinary extraordinary through great design. Over the past 10 years, we’ve gone from being primarily an accessories brand, to being a brand that can accommodate most interior decorating needs of private consumers, offices, restaurants, hotels, and so on. We’ve tried to incorporate our original philosophies on a broader scale, so that we can accommodate for different needs and preferences. I think that’s the most exciting thing about the brands evolution.

What do you think is the allure of Scandinavian design, that it has resonated with such a wide audience around the world?

Danish design is known for its minimalistic and timeless aesthetic, combined with a use of high quality materials—it’s something that everyone can connect with. Having Danish furniture in your house is quite versatile, you can really go anyway with it and adapt it to your own personal style, so it’s something that has only gotten increasingly popular with time.

Hyg Sofa | Photo: Normann Copenhagen

By extension, the Nordic concept of comfort and contentmenthyggehas also caught on. Do you have any tips on living a hygge life?

With the pandemic, more and more people are continuing to work from home, and are learning how to find that concept of hygge in their work lives. Now, as we return to normal, we are especially seeing more people trying to bring that hygge into their offices. Ultimately, it’s all about finding a balance of happiness. Hygge makes you feel good, so I always suggest finding great furniture pieces of accessories that make you feel happy and comfortable, and incorporating them into your daily life.

Where do you find inspiration and creativity?

I find it from all around me, especially in nature. A lot of our more recent designs have been inspired by natural Danish landscapes.

Form Chair | Photo: Normann Copenhagen

What are some of your favourite creations from the brand and why?

There are three products in particular that I think have been contributory in the Normann Copenhagen story. The Norm69 lamp successfully marked our entrance into the lighting market and made it clear to us that we should continue to design products in collaboration with architects and designers.

During the financial crisis in 2008, the Danish designer Herbert Krenchel created the iconic Krenit bowl series, which instantly became a success and helped secure Normann Copenhagen during the financial crisis.

This list wouldn’t be complete without Form. The Form series was Normann Copenhagen’s first venture into the furniture industry and is still one of our most popular designs. Since the initial idea, it took three years to develop the Form series due to its unique production method, and it is now a Normann Copenhagen icon.

I think there are numerous product designs that I’m very fond of, and that are very popular, but these three designs have been instrumental in defining the Normann Copenhagen brand.

Little Bird | Photo: Normann Copenhagen

What’s next for the brand?

We definitely want to continue to expand into Asia, and other countries worldwide, especially since our newest stores have received rather positive feedback. We also want to continue to push for sustainable furniture designs. As the world grows more environmentally conscious, we, as brand, have taken on the responsibility to ensure that we are doing our best to create sustainable products.

Normann Copenhagen, Lok Moon Mansion, Shop B, G/F, 29-31 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai,