365 Objects Of Design

NORR11 – A Danish Way of Life

14th July 2016
chestnut

furniture by NORR11

Regular readers will know that I am a big fan of Danish furniture and the Danes’ abiding principle that good design makes people happy. I wrote about it for The Financial Times about four years ago (the first piece I ever wrote for them and at about the same time that I set the blog up incidentally) and I believe just as firmly as they do in the power of good design. You only have to look at the surveys which constantly rank the Danes as the happiest people on the planet and wonder what’s contributing to their sense of wellbeing.

As we move away from a throwaway culture towards one where we buy less, buy smarter and buy what we truly love, I think the Danes have got it right. Which is why, today, I am happy to tell you that I am thrilled to be a brand ambassador for NORR11

rough table by norr11

the rough table by NORR11  is one of my favourite pieces

I was one of the first to write about this Danish company when they arrived in the UK last year and I’m happy to introduce you to them over the next few months. Some of my clients have already bought their pieces and others have been keen to investigate this brand. That was one of the reasons why I have decided to work with them because I have already shown their furniture and lighting to some of you and the rest of you will know by now that I really only work with brands I like and I think you will too. Which hasn’t been very many to date.

But first, an introduction. In which we find out how the Danes invented our open plan kitchens, how their furniture companies inspired restaurants like Noma, nominated as the best restaurant in the world and why that good design does make all the difference to our lives.Last month I met Mads Moesgaard Ramm, their international sales manager, at their London showroom and, before you all start jumping up and down, I can tell you that in addition to the London showroom there is a shop (a real live shop) in Bury, not far from Manchester (the website is being redone but the shop has around 100sq ft of NORR11 products so you can see almost the entire collection) IRL as they say (*whispers*: in real life).

The first principle is the simplicity of the design and the products. In the same way that Italians make amazing food from simple, but brilliant, ingredients so the Danes excel at simple furniture with clean lines.

NORR11_Image_2012_03

the langue original lounge chair is another great piece – it comes in leather too

“We saw a gap in the market for furniture that was light and simple and that bridged the gap between the design classics (which are now so expensive) and the mainstream,” said Mads. “We like simple furniture in not too many colours to open the room up.

“In the UK people don’t spend as much time in their homes as we do, so we tend to spend more money on what goes in them. It’s not about the weather, as everyone always says,  but about the fact that we meet friends at home and not in a bar after work for example. It’s a cultural difference. We spend a long time preparing for dinner parties and we present our home as part of ourselves.”

And talking of food, Mads says restaurants like Noma, famed for using only local ingredients, were inspired by the furniture industry which also uses only local materials and tries to minimise waste.

NORR11_Image_2012_04

the rough table is made from a single piece of wood with a raw edge

Mads, on behalf of Denmark, is also taking credit for the UK love of the open plan kitchen. Or, as he calls it, the conversation kitchen. “We used to have small kitchens in our houses, but in the 90s houses started to be built with fewer walls between the rooms so parents could cook while kids did homework and everyone was together. The island became a place where people could gather round and when the architects saw this was how people were living they started to design houses this way.”

Danish interiors are also famous for their monochrome palette. Natural materials rule: floors are wooden, walls are white and furniture is leather or fabric in muted colours. “We are proud of our furniture and our design heritage and we want it to look good in the space,” he said shaking his head in actual horror when I asked if he ever secretly yearned for an orange wall or a flash of neon pink.

Instead he points to the comfort of a simple leather chair. In fact, by this stage I have sat my way round the entire showroom and Mads has taken to standing in the middle and turning to face me as I move around. I want all the chairs. The coffee tables, where the top comes off to be a tray are fabulous and their outdoor furniture is properly weatherproof.

It’s not just NORR11 though. Mads points out that Fritz Hansen had its best year ever last year and the designs of Arne Jacobsen, Verner Panton and Poul Henningsen have been almost constantly in production since the 1950s.

NORR11_Image_2012_09

mr fang the standard lamp brings a modern twist to the traditional

Having now spent some time in the UK, Mads thinks we are ready to embrace that Scandinavian philosophy of buying less and buying pieces that we want to pass down through the family. And in the same spirit of respect for the furniture and the love of design, Mads says NORR11 doesn’t even have a design schedule.

“We make new products when we feel it, there is no target or production deadline. We do it when it feels right.”

And if that approach to design makes them happy, then I can definitely see how it might make us happy to have pieces crafted with skill and love in our own homes.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 15.22.07

elegant low level seating Danish style

I hope you like this company as much as I do.  I look forward to showing you some of the new ideas which they have been working on in a couple of months.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Liz Rae 15th July 2016 at 6:59 am

    I bought this table last summer for my house in France after I saw it on your blog. It took six months to arrive and when it finally did I was very upset to see that it had a foot long and three inch wide piece of different wood wedged into the top of the table. This is totally unacceptable and despite several emails and phone calls to Norr11 they have refused to replace it – would appreciate your thoughts as I have been left with an eyesore.

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 17th July 2016 at 9:26 pm

      Gosh – if you are happy for me to give them your email, I will pass on your details.

    • NORR11 18th July 2016 at 1:08 pm

      Dear Ms Rae,

      Thank you for your comment.

      The NORR11 Head of Customer Service have previously been in touch with you and confirmed that we will replace the table. We are currently awaiting our supplier and will arrange delivery and pick up as soon as possible. If you have any questions regarding this, please do not hesitate to contact our Customer Service Team on [email protected].
      We try and get back to all our customers within 48 hours, but unfortunately something has gone wrong in the communication with yourself, which is very regrettable.

      Please do note, as each table is unique cracks and imperfections is a natural occurrence. Due to the unique nature of each table the given dimensions of thickness and width showcased above and specified on our website are approximate values and will vary from piece to piece.

      Best regards

      NORR11 Team

  • Jude 14th July 2016 at 11:04 am

    Well you sold me those dining chairs on your previous post. I am only glad I already bought a table otherwise I’d be hankering after this one now! I have always loved classic design and good quality pieces in my house, which is why I have lived with second-hand stuff and tea-chests in the past so I can save up to buy the things that last. Now I am older and less mobile I want furniture I can move myself to clean underneath or reposition so the lighter Skandi designs suit me well.

  • Fiona Duke 14th July 2016 at 9:48 am

    ‘the rough table’ is now firmly placed on my ‘wish list’ for my new kitchen extension refurb……

  • Racy 14th July 2016 at 9:32 am

    Love the blog!! But I just find this Danish furniture so boring and bland. It’s a re-hash of the same designs again and again. Habitat, IKEA and various others have been churning this out for years. The mid century thing is sure to pass soon isn’t it? Love the style but it’s time for something new. I do like that he says the classics have become too expensive though as I think the original designers would be turning in their graves to find out how much their products cost now when many of them were designed for the masses.

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