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Sense of Clarity

Copenhagen, Denmark

Norm Architects weave together Japanese and Danish design sensibilities in HP House II

Designing the interiors of the same house twice within a decade doesn’t happen very often. Even more notable is when the house in question has been owned by the legendary Danish designer and critic Poul Henningsen.

After a fire in 2014 devastated Henningsen’s former sommerhus north of Copenhagen, Danish studio Norm Architects was called to rebuild and restore the historic villa. “Celebrating fine craftsmanship and crafted details has been an important part of the project, preserving the original atmosphere of the space, while creating a home for a family with contemporary needs,” says Peter Eland, architect and partner at the studio.

After four years, the result was a modern home in Norm’s signature style, a soft, minimal take on the original, with references to its former features: high panels, parquet flooring and low, paned windows.


The new client requested a warmer, less contrasted material palette

Shortly after, when the house changed hands, Norm Architects was called in again to update the interiors, but this time in a much cosier key. Creating a lighter effect, the walls have been repainted while new built-in shelving and kitchen units provide a subtle update.

“The new client requested a warmer, less contrasted material palette,” explains Eland. “We chose to work with natural oak for the inbuilt cabinets and kitchen island, and Jura Grau stone for the kitchen tabletop – all made in collaboration with the design studio and workshop Københavns Møbelsnedkeri. The floors were sanded and treated with a warm-coloured oil. The result reflects a harmonious interplay of natural, tactile materials,” he adds.

The recent furniture designs for the Japanese company Karimoku Case Study – a collaboration between the Danish studio and Tokyo-based architect Keiji Ashizawa – are in keeping with the airy mood.

In the living room, the different planes of the coffee table, hidden by a slab of marble reminiscent of Danish architect Poul Kjærholm’s work, echo the facades of Japanese shrines. Flooded with natural light, the kitchen space is brightened by newly rendered timber surfaces. Built-in cabinets provide a tactile experience, with each surface an invitation to be used. As Japanese writer Jun’ichirō Tanizaki once said: “As [wood] darkens and the grain grows more subtle with the years, it acquires an inexplicable power to calm and sooth.”

The home embodies the qualities shared by both Danish and Japanese aesthetics. “At Norm Architects we have profound respect and admiration for the Japanese tradition of exquisite craftsmanship and attention to detail, and celebration of natural imperfections and materials,” concludes Eland. By applying a certain degree of restraint, the project achieves an effortless sense of clarity, the ultimate design value for Danes and Japanese alike.