“I enjoy almost all facets of our work. Since we founded NORM Architects, I have not felt like I was going to work at all. There are no weekends or hard Mondays for me. No division between work and spare time.”
Recently I had the pleasure of talking with Danish architect Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen. I’ve been drawn to his work from the first moment I saw it some years ago. Although Jonas received a degree in business administration from Copenhagen Business School he began to doubt whether he should work with business in large corporations. So he decided to take leave from business school and go to Rome to study art. When he came back a year later, Jonas decided to follow his heart and to work within the creative field. So he applied for studying architecture at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Some years later – in 2008 – NORM Architects was founded by architects Kasper Rønn and Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen. Meanwhile the timeless architecture and meaningful design products of NORM Architects has been published in many magazines globally. I’m always impressed by people who made the choice to follow their passions and stick with it. It’s a rare thing!
Jonas loves photography and the books of Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges and Umberto Ecco.
What was the moment when you knew you would be an architect?
I had been studying business, languages and culture at Copenhagen Business school for one year when I began to doubt whether I should work with business in large corporations. So I decided to take leave from business school and go to Rome to study art. At that time I painted a lot. When I came back a year later, I was certain that I would like to work within the creative field and therefore I applied for studying architecture at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. After a few years, I knew I wanted to be an architect. So it was a progress more than a split decision.
Is there something that connects all your projects?
Simplicity. Functionality. Tactility – and a special balance between masculine and feminine shapes. We always try to reach a point in all our projects where there is nothing left to add or take away that will make the project better. It´s all about finding that balance.
Looking back at your first project what design knowledge do you wish you had back then?
I wish we had know much more about everything. But especially about production methods and materials, which would have given us much more creative freedom.
What do you enjoy most in your work?
I enjoy almost all facets of our work equally. Since we founded NORM Architects, I have not felt like I was going to work at all. There are no weekends or hard Mondays for me. No division between work and spare time. So if I have to prioritize I would say that the ever-changing nature of my work is what I enjoy the most.
What do you love to do when you are not designing?
I love photography and even though I am slowly starting to function as a professional photographer as well, photography is still one of the few creative areas I have left where I do not have to think commercially as well. That I really enjoy.
What are your favorite artists?
I am sure that there is enough space to name them all, so I will just name a few; Donald Judd, Olafur Eliasson, Anish Kapoor, Cathrine Raben Davidsen and photographer Sally Mann, I really love for the simple poetic work.
Your favorite books?
I love the works of Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges and Umberto Ecco. They really create so many inspirational images in my mind.
Your favorite places in Copenhagen?
There is a small little bookstore very close to our studio in the centre of Copenhagen that is called Cinnober. It is owned by to graphic designers and they curate a small delicate collection of books on graphics, art, design, fashion, architecture and photography. They also have small exhibitions with graphic prints. I love to go there.
What does success mean to you?
Being happy and doing what you love.
What’s your advice to upcoming architects?
Try to work only with projects that really interest you and always give attention to details.
My signature question – what are the most important design elements?
I think all elements of design are important and that they are all interconnected. But in our times where there is a strong focus on the visual aspect of design and many designers do projects in terms of how well they photograph, I think it is more important than ever to focus on tactility in design. I often experience that touch, taste, smell and sound are neglected in design.
photos: NORM Architects