architect: Aurelien Barbry/Normann Copenhagen
location: France, denmark
area: You have your origins in France, but you have decided to work in Denmark. Why did you make this choice?
Aurelien Barbry: I always felt close to the Danish design tradition which is very much in line with my own design philosophy. I have done projects with Danish companies from the beginning.
area: Is Denmark a competitive country?
Aurelien Barbry: In Denmark, there are many talented designers so of course the competition exists but it is also a country with a lot of dynamic companies as Normann Copenhagen.
They involve design in everything they do which creates interesting opportunities. Scandinavian design companies can count on an important home market.
area: Did you always want to be a designer?
Aurelien Barbry: I always known that I would like to work within the creative domain. The design quickly proved to be an area that covers many interesting factors like technologies, functionality, sculpturing, graphism.....
area: For you the design is an existential exercise. Can you explain that concept?
Aurelien Barbry: For me designing is an existential exercise. An exercise where you think about the most simple things in you daily life and ask yourself why you do like you do or how it could be done differently. All objects and functions are a fantastic creative platform. A bottle opener or a chair, I need to design my own tools.
area: What comes first? Innovation or functionality?
Aurelien Barbry: Both! A good project, a good object combines a beautiful shape with an evident functionality that all users can easily appreciate. Simple with a little twist.
area: The next issue of Area will be entirely devoted to wineries and the world that revolves around them. Could you describe how you got the idea of designing an original series of wine accessories?
Aurelien Barbry: As a French man, wine is part of my culture. I like to visit different wines regions in France or other countries. The idea and inspiration of creating a wine accessory probably came out of my visits and everything that revolves around the world of wines, traditional objects and materials.
area: What do you think about working with an important company as Normann Copenaghen?
Aurelien Barbry: I think is great to work with an dynamic companies having created so many iconic products. I really appreciate that they always try out new ideas and products of different scales. area: How did you organize this collaboration?
Aurelien Barbry: I first sent them a sketch of 3 stoppers that they really liked, it quickly turned out that there was an potential to create a full collection of wine & bar collection. We first launched the wine pourer and them the 3 stoppers, and the rest of the collection followed. the cork is a very pleasant material to work with, you can obtain nice and accurate shapes with a nice feel to it.
area: Are you planning the design of other objects for Normann Copenaghen or has the collaboration come to an end?
Aurelien Barbry: I hope the collection is only the beginning of a long collaboration.
I would like to design more kitchen accessories and also small pieces of furniture for them.
area: What projects are you working on, and with what companies?
Aurelien Barbry: At the moment I work on a sofa, an easy chair, and some living products for Scandinavian and European companies. area: Where does Normann Copenhagen name come from?
Nanna Brinkler: Normann Copenhagen started off as a little design shop called Normann Design. It was Poul Madsen and Jan Normann Andersen who started the company so the name seemed obvious.
area: Normann Copenhagen was born in 1999 by the collaboration between Jan Andersen and Poul Madsen. Can you tell us the story of your company and its background?
Nanna Brinkler: The story of Normann Copenhagen begins in 1999, when Poul Madsen and Jan Andersen teamed up to start the Normann Copenhagen company. Initially run as a design store on Strandboulevarden in Copenhagen, the turning point came in autumn 2001 when a product line was launched under the company’s own name: Normann Copenhagen.
In early 2002 the first Normann Copenhagen product, the Norm 69 lamp designed by Simon Karkov was introduced. Later the same year, further three products were put on the market: the Washing-up bowl and brush in rubber, designed by Ole Jensen, the Swing Vase by Britt Bonnesen and Ole Jensen’s Dustpan and Broom. Today, Normann Copenhagen export to 83 different countries and is well represented in Denmark, USA, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, Japan, Sweden and Germany.
The products introduced by Normann Copenhagen in 2002 gained much international attention and won instant recognition in the world of design. In 2002, the Washing-up bowl and brush won the prestigious DESIGNPLUS award – an award that during the next years was assigned Normann Copenhagen five times.
In 2007 three products are awarded the international reddot design award and since the first product launches in 2002 Normann Copenhagen has been awarded with over 40 awards including iF Design Award China, DesignPlus, interior innovation award cologne and Good Design Award.
To understand the products it is necessary to understand what Normann Copenhagen is. Normann Copenhagen is a special way of looking at design. Like putting on a pair of glasses and seeing the world in a particular way. Through these glasses, products are developed such as Boje Estermann’s collapsible kitchen funnel, Ole Jensen’s washing-up bowl and brush, Gry Fagers tableware Mormor and Britt Kornum’s Norm 03 organic lamp.
area: What has changed since then? What was the inspiration which led Normann Copenhagen to become the company it is today?
Nanna Brinkler: A passion for design and a vision to make ordinary things extraordinary through good design. Through the years we have launched a lot of products and every year more and more novelties see the light of day.
area: If you think about the past, is there something in particular that contributed to create your world reputation?
Nanna Brinkler: We like to challange conventional thinking both in our designs that don’t follow a certain line or style but are very individual and in our projects and events. The launch of the cable container, Woofy, created a lot of attention world wide because we let the “dog” travel the world while taken photos and giving Woofy its own website: www.woofyaroundtheworld.com. We also make something special out of going on fairs. When we launched our Bob game we had street tournaments during Salone del Mobile 2010 and this year we made a booth that was own big color explotion. So you can say we like to stand out.
area: Which project are you more attached to? And among them which is the most representative?
Nanna Brinkler: We are very attached to our Norm 69 lamp designed by the Danish architech Simon Karkow. It was the first product we launched back in 2002. The design is from 1969 and the lamp has 69 pieces.
area: Can you tell us something about the birth of the collaboration between Normann Copenhagen and Aurélien Barbry?
Nanna Brinkler: We met Aurélien through his girlfriend and instantly liked his designs. The Wine & Bar series is very popular and we are planning to do a few more things with Aurélien in the future.
area: What do you appreciate in Aurélien Barbry work?
Nanna Brinkler: His designs are useful with a clear function. The Wine & Bar series is organic with cork as the main material.
area: With what design firms have you collaborated in the past and whom are you planning to involve after Aurélien Barbry?
Nanna Brinkler: We have worked with over 40 designers and add more to the list every year. You can see all our designers at www.normann-copenhagen.com/designers
In 1997 Aurélien Barbry graduated with Honor from Ecole Camondo Paris as an industrial and interior designer. Since then Aurélien has worked on many different interior and design projects. Today he is based in Copenhagen where he continues to work on challenging design.
“Design is an exercise where you take the simplest things in your daily life and ask yourself how they could be done differently. I want to move objects towards simplicity and obviousness of the form so it becomes dialogue with the end user. Reinstate everyday forms, simple and accurate.“
Jan Andersen and Poul Madsen teamed up to create the Normann Copenhagen brand in 1999 with a vision to make a difference in the design industry. Three years later they launched the first product, the lampp Norm 69. Within five years more that 38 products followed, as well as collaborations with established design names and new talents from around the world.
In 2005 Jan and Poul moved from a small design store at Strandboulevarden to an old 1700 smq cinema at Østerbro in Copenhagen. Today teh store has not only won several prizes as the coolest designstore in Copenhagen, but also serves as a platform for great parties, fashion events, art exhibition as well as small happenings.