The Interview: Poul Madsen of Normann Copenhagen

Scandic styling and contemporary designs, the Normann Copenhagen collection stands out from the crowd - we interview co-founder Poul Madsen to discover more.


The Interview

The Houseologists love the exciting originality of the Normann Copenhagen designs and were thrilled to interview co-founder Poul Madsen to learn more about the design process behind the pieces…

Q: How did Normann Copenhagen begin?

A: After getting my business degree, I started my own business, which I ran for a couple of years, before I met Jan Andersen. We kept running into each other at trade shows and we clicked really well and finally decided to team up and create Normann Copenhagen in 1999.

Initially, Normann Copenhagen was run as a design shop in Copenhagen where we sold different brands and a few of our own creations too. Then in 2001, an acquaintance of the Danish designer, Simon Karkov, saw the prospect of a fruitful collaboration between Normann Copenhagen and Simon, and introduced us. Simon showed us his Norm 69 Lamp, which had been lying in a loft since he designed it in 1969, we loved what we saw and decided to put the lamp into production. This was the birth of Normann Copenhagen as a manufacturer.

Poul Madsen interview- Normann Copenhagen Form collection

Q: Where does your passion for design come from?

A: It’s hard to say exactly where it started but I remember being interested in design as a teenager. I think we are all influenced and affected by the things we surround ourselves with, and most of us make conscious decisions about what we put in our homes. I appreciate nice things and always have. How would you describe the Normann Copenhagen style?

We love to challenge the conventional design rules and, for Normann Copenhagen, it’s always the design and the original idea that wins. A Normann Copenhagen product is known for being bold and eye-catching. Our products are often characterised by a simple design and clean lines, but there is always that certain something that adds character to the product. For example, our Swell Sofa is very clean and simple, but the curves made by the stitches add lots of personality. We like a design to have a certain simplicity but functionality is also equally important. Minimalism is, of course, evident throughout our collection, but as mentioned, we like it when a product has some personality as well.

Poul Madsen interview - Normann Copenhagen Swell Sofa 2 Seater

Q: Where do your inspirations come from?

A: We choose products that we think bring something new, and hopefully unexpected, to the world of design. It can be a new shape, an added function or a reinterpretation of a product altogether. We don’t just launch a product according to its type or what we think is missing in our collection, it has to be the right product. Something that we look at and think, ‘This is special, something that we haven’t seen before’. This approach means that the products in our collection are designs that we really believe in and that reflect our personal tastes and views.

When we choose colours for our products and style and shoot pictures of them, we are often inspired by the colours and trends we see in the fashion world, but the designers we work with get their inspiration from lots of different places. Some are inspired by objects, some by shapes, function, a material or even a place, story or person. We like that our products aren’t always inspired by the same things. We think it helps make each design more unique.

Poul Madsen interview - Normann Copenhagen Block Table

Q: Do you have a favourite piece from your collection and why?

A: Every product in our collection has a special place with me. Perhaps it’s because Jan and I have chosen them ourselves, but there are certain properties about every design that we love, and that makes it impossible to point to just one favourite. One of the products that I think is especially great is My Chair. The design itself is incredibly versatile, and you can use it for many different purposes and in many rooms in the home.

I also really love the Bell Lamp for its unique shape, thin material and exclusive matte finish. We’ve just launched it in two new sizes, so the range has become even more versatile. I love many of our kitchen accessories, like the Tea Egg, for example. It is really a total reinterpretation of the traditional steel tea infuser. They are made entirely of silicone and the colours make them very festive.

Poul Madsen interview - Normann Copenhagen Bell Lamp

Q: What makes a design special?

A: That’s a difficult one as what makes a design special can come from any part of the design process. Sometimes it is the function of a product, sometimes it’s using a material in a new context, sometimes it is the shape itself. It can even be as simple as the connection of two elements or something small like that. That is one of the reasons I love our collection. Because we work with so many different types of products and materials, there is room to ensure that we maintain the integrity of the design and what makes it unique in the finished product.

Q: How would you describe your own style?

A: I have a very practical approach to decorating: it has to be functional. I keep the style of my home quite simple, and I prefer not to have too many pieces.

Q: What do you love to use when you are decorating a room?

A: Generally, I try to make it flexible and when I choose furniture, I tend to rely on pieces that won’t only fit in one location. Other than that, I think art on the walls can make a world of difference. We just took down all the pictures we have at home and moved them into new rooms, it gave every room a whole new look. What do you enjoy about working with Houseology? Houseology is very good at paying attention to new trends in the design world. You always seem very interested in renewing and evolving your retail concept and are not afraid to try new products and trends that you believe in. This is a perfect match for a brand like Normann Copenhagen, as this is also the way we run our business.

Poul Madsen interview - Normann Copenhagen Collection