Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen:
Norm Architects

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In winning the 2013 Awards for Best European Restaurant and Best Restaurant for Höst, Copenhagen, Norm Architects were recognised for their beautifully simple, yet all-encompassing, design for the interior of the restaurant, as well as for the serving plates and cups, and even the garden. Here Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen of Norm, talks about the inception and delivery of the project.

What has been the effect of you winning both the Europe Restaurant category and being overall winner at the Restaurant and Bar Design Awards last year, and how has it influenced your design plans for future projects?

There is no doubt that the recognition we have received for having designed a very subtle and understated restaurant interior here in Copenhagen with a focus on a cosy, human and relaxed atmosphere, is really a recognition of the fact that quality does not necessarily come with big budgets and highly ornamented spectacular architecture. Quality in this case lies in the strong concept, the architectural details, materials and emphasis on how people feel good. It is also, needless to say, that we have had an overwhelming interest from the press globally and from restaurateurs in many big cities that are very interested in not only New Nordic Cuisine, but also how we think about architecture, interior and design.

Tell us about the winning project, Höst, and how you were inspired to create it.

The whole thing started with the design of a range of dinnerware we did for the Danish Company Menu. The dinnerware was inspired by the eclectic way many of the new Danish chefs were working in Copenhagen with the “New Nordic” cuisine – which is a terroir kitchen where many of the chefs used different kinds of materials to serve their dishes on – wood, stone, coloured stoneware, textiles, etc. – to symbolically tell the guests about the element the produce was coming from. We created a complete dinnerware to accommodate this Nordic eclectic way of serving with a combination of greyish, dirty blueish and greenish colours together with wood and slate – called New Norm Dinnerware. For the launch of the dinnerware we created a digital world of inspiration and a physical world – which was Höst – together with Danish restaurateurs Cofoco.

To match the dinnerware, we came up with the idea of making a Urban Farmyard restaurant. We talked about how good food tastes out in the open, the simple rural life, finding a low key restaurant in the mountains on vacations to Southern Europe or eating on a country side inn in Denmark – and we took all those elements and interpreted them in a contemporary urban context and took it all indoors – but trying to create the same atmosphere.

We designed and built the place within a couple of months using primarily reclaimed materials with a story and with the right patina – we designed tables from old ceiling constructions, found windows from an old hospital, etc., etc. Almost every element is custom made for the place and it was really nice to be able to control every little detail. Even our lamps – Mass Light – that we designed for the Danish company &tradition, we had sandblasted, to get just the right surface and tone to match the concept.

Give us an example of a really great food and drink venue that is design-led, and works well for customers, and why this is?

There are so many all over the globe. But two places that came to my mind within seconds are Nimb Hotel in Copenhagen, and J.K. Place on the island of Capri. I guess both places are luxurious – but they both feel very homely. I think that is a key factor to get people to feel good.

What trends do you foresee for the next few years in designing for this sector?

Well, I am pretty sure that we will see many more places that focus on using natural materials, creating understated luxury and unique concepts with strong stories. We will see new exciting hybrids and collaborations, and I hope that architects and interior designers will focus much more on the haptic elements of design, and design on a human scale.

Can you tell us any of your plans for 2014?

We are working on many different things at the moment – new houses, new restaurants in Copenhagen, Moscow, London and New York, new products, showrooms, magazines and books. But three very important projects that we are looking forward to launching in the new year is the new Menu brand, where we have curated a strong furniture and lighting collection with some of the most talented designers in the world; the launch of a big collection of outdoor furniture we have designed for the world´s biggest design retailer, Design Within Reach – based in the US; and then the growth of a jewellery company that we are art directors for and co-own, Von Lotzbeck Jewellery.

Image © Norm Architects

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