Norm’s minimal, warm kitchen design for Reform
Standing in the recently-renovated Reform showroom in Copenhagen’s Vestrobro district, Kasper Rønn von Lotzbeck appears completely at ease in his sleek surroundings.
As an architect, designer and co-founder of multidisciplinary design studio Norm Architects, his design philosophy is rooted in what he calls “warm minimalism.” It’s a look defined by first stripping all details from a project, then building it back up, detail by detail. “It’s not the hard minimalism where everything is cold and white,” he says. “There’s a warmness, a ‘oneness’ in material choice.”
Kasper creates objects and spaces that are striking, functional and durable. His background in residential architecture, commercial interiors and industrial design complement his affinity for photography and graphic design to define Norm’s style. Since co-founding the studio in 2008, Kasper has been in charge of furniture and product design projects for the firm. His role would eventually lead to Norm’s introduction to a unique new kitchen design company called Reform.
“In the beginning, Reform called us up asked if we wanted to be one of the first three designers for them. We had never heard of them, so we were curious. But they were really nice guys, the chemistry was good and we decided to make that first kitchen,” Kasper explains.
Reform has a unique approach to kitchen design. They create super premium kitchens through collaboration with only the best Danish and internationally acclaimed architects. These designers all start their projects with the same one basic ingredient – an IKEA kitchen – and then ‘reform’ the original design to create something completely new.
“When they called us, we didn’t know much about the IKEA Hack idea. So when they explained more about the concept, and told us about the quality of the interior… we knew that the quality was right, and we said yes.”
One of the things that Norm and Reform discussed early on, was that quality would be the most important thing. As Kasper says, “we wanted to make something that was unexpectedly nice.” The result of the collaboration is a kitchen that is simple, yet exclusive and timeless. The materials, which are seldom used in kitchens, exude a clean, yet raw expression. They narrowed a huge list of materials down to concrete, wood and brass – natural ingredients selected for their durability and reaction to wear. Like the use of bronzed tombac handles. Over time, the handles will develop a golden shine in areas of continuous wear.
“I like more subtle and earthy tones and something that doesn’t stand out too much, so the food can shine instead. That’s why we chose dark brown and dark brass. We want the design to be as subtle as possible and step into the background a bit.”
While Norm’s design philosophy is rooted in minimalism, they consciously steered clear of stark, cold design. By keeping things simple and focussing human design, the result of Norm and Reform’s collaboration feels unique, warm and made to last.
“We are not trying to hide that it’s a kitchen. We are not trying to make a piece of furniture that is a disguised kitchen. You are able to see that there’s a sink and a faucet. Everything is “kitchen-like.”
Asked about the importance of designing a kitchen that is equal parts cooking area and social space, Kasper says: “I think that an open social kitchen where you show your food before it’s cooked, is part of showing your own story. It’s a way of explaining to your guests how you see the world and who you are.”
“The kitchen is not just a place for cooking. It’s also a place for communicating our values.”
This philosophy resonates perfectly with the values on which Reform built its business. Their belief is that the kitchen is the true heart of the home, but a room that’s often overlooked when it comes to design. Tired of white, soulless kitchens, Reform have based their business on putting design front and center. Their architect-designed fronts and countertops create an aesthetic that combines quality construction and timeless design – all with the ever-familiar IKEA skeleton hidden below.
The union between Norm Architects and Reform, for many reasons, is one that simply works. In large part, as Kasper says, the beauty lies in the details of their design.
“It was Charles Eames who said that everything is in the detail or the detail is everything. So, that is kind of what we live with and for.”