We visited Poul Madsen, founder and co-owner of Normann Copenhagen in his apartment to talk about art, inspiration and interior design.
Østerbro is one of Copenhagen´s historical neighborhoods, known for its small retail business life, significant buildings and open spaces as well as recreational areas. Poul Madsen loves Østerbro! This is his neighbourhood.
His private residence is located only 5 minutes’ walk away from the Normann Copenhagen Flagship Store located at Trianglen in the heart of Østerbro. He has lived there since 2008 and he spends quite a lot of his spare time there too. In this area, he built his life’s work along with co-founder Jan Andersen. 15 years ago, they established the company Normann Copenhagen as a small retail shop on Strandboulevarden.
This sunny August afternoon, we stroll through the charming streets of Østerbro to visit Poul Madsen in his home – a 200 m2 apartment where he lives with his wife Karin Nørgaard and their 5-year-old daughter.
Poul Madsen in his home office. The lamp “One minute Sculpture” by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders is an example of a design that borders between art and design. Sculptor Edvard Eriksen, who did the original version of The Little Mermaid – the famous Danish tourist attraction located at Langelinie in Copenhagen, made the Little Mermaid sculpture too, which Poul has placed on the desktop “7/24” by Derin.
Taking a tour around the apartment, we spot art works in every room. Poul Madsen has several of Normann Copenhagen’s furniture pieces and design accessories as well as other classic designs. Poul Madsen´s many years of occupation in the design industry has provided him with a strong taste of what he likes. “I choose furniture for our home in the same why as I choose new products for our collection. I use my intuition. It should touch me in its form, function or color”, says Poul Madsen when we ask about the choice of décor.
Why did you pick the furniture pieces you have?
''We live rather minimalistically with a few handpicked pieces we like. I work with design and furniture on a daily basis. I see so many new designs everyday so I need to have a calm space at home. I like to mix design classics with some of our own Normann Copenhagen designs.''
A great view from the living room into the office and dining area. Poul has placed two of Normann Copenhagen´s new Era lounge chairs in grey under works by HuskMitNavn.
How did your own interest for art arise?
''My first experiences with art was in elementary school. Our teacher took us on many field trips and we always visited a church and a museum. When I was in 5th or 6th grade, we went to Amsterdam. We visited the Rijks Museum where I saw Peter Poul Rubens and Rembrandt van Rijn for the first time. It did something to me. I bought all the postcards in the museum shop and I thought myself to know the difference between the two. I remember thinking it was exciting to gain knowledge about the topic. Around age 18, I traveled numerous times to Poland on business. I was fascinated by art once again and bought some street art pieces.''
What does art mean to you?
''For me art is somewhat undefined, however it has to make sense to me. One of three factors should be present: talent, artisanship or time. When I experience great art, it evokes feelings and I feel it psychically. In spring 2015, I visited Art Miami New York. It was euphoric to me. It was art on an entirely different league and it overwhelmed me. I wanted to talk to everybody to hear all about the art, the artists and their galleries. I wandered around the large fairground like a child in a candy store. I was curious and fascinated in unison. It can´t really be explained in words.''
Do you have favorite artist(s)?
''In general, contemporary art is what interest me, mostly paintings, sculptures or installation art. Artists like HuskMitNavn, Tal R and Elmgreen & Dragset captivate me. HuskMitNavn makes works that are easy to relate to. Often amusing, colorful drawings, showing everyday moments. At the same time, his works contain the subtext of attitudes without provoking. Elmgreen & Dragset create art that fascinates in a different way. It is installation art, often in a museum context or in a public space, making it more inaccessible to take home. But they have such a strong conceptual idea and it is well executed, which makes is very interesting.''
''In Copenhagen, V1 Gallery does a great job too I think. Frequently, they have something I like and they allocated space for new undiscovered talents to exhibit, I like that. It makes art accessible for more people'', Poul continues enthusiastically.
Poul Madsen also works as a judge in design awards for young design talents. He enjoys the creativity that young designers often have. Moreover, as there are less boundaries in art, it is inspiring to follow the young art talents too.
Poul has various drawings by HuskMitNavn, one of artist he favor, on the wall in the long, narrow hall taking us to the kitchen.
What do art, design and other creative fields have in common?
''I believe that art and interior have always been linked together. We find that the lines between creative disciplines are becoming more and more blurred. It has become more acceptable to flirt with multiple branches of creativity. Many designers are working on the borders of art. They want to challenge their professionalism and transcend existing constraints for what is possible in the design. We see it also in the wide range of creative educations available today. Nearly all design schools focus on the arts and even have their own art courses.''
Poul is spellbound by the magical and intricate universe of Louise Hindsgavl. He finds it inspiring how she creates objects in the cross field between design, craft and art. Although she graduated from the Design School in Kolding, Denmark, she is more established in the art world than in the world of design.
What is important when you choose art for your home?
''I want to get the personality and the senses of the artist with me home. The first thing that draws me is visual like the motif, the size and the media used by the artist. I also need to know where to place it in my home. I have turned down many pieces I fell in love with because I didn´t know where to place it.''
A large plant and green glass bottles on top of the fireplace, empathize the green tones from the large green painting 'Wherever You Go Is Where You Are' made by Jens Hedin in 2003.
What was your first piece?
''My first art piece was a large drawing from Christian Le Fix. I saw a smaller drawing by him which I really liked. I asked if he would make a large drawing for me. And he did! Today, it hangs in my kitchen and we love to look at it everyday.''
The large grey Bell lamp emphasizes the color tones in the painting on the wall. The Danish artist Marie Bancks has made the large painting 'Echo of Me' (2010) on the wall. Poul likes her brushstrokes and the depth in the painting and the work adds color to the room too.
How does art inspire you in your professional life?
''Art inspires me every day. I like art that lies in the crossover field between art and design and it really feed inspiration for new ideas. After many years working in the design industry, I have decoded the business. I know the design companies, I know the designers and I know the retail shops. The art world is such a big undiscovered field for me. Most of the profiles I follow on Instagram are involved with art in some way of the other such as art museums, a galleries and artists. Fx I follow HuskMitNavn and he posts small brilliant drawings every day that makes me stop and think.''
In his daily work, Poul searches for inspiration in many places such as on travels, in art, but also in design and art books.
Do you ever use art in the Flagship Store?
''We do use art in the store occasionally. For our grand opening of the Flagship Store in 2005, we asked the Danish painter Kristian von Hornsleth to do an art painting in one of the ceilings. You can still see it. During the years, we have invited different art and craft exhibitions. We were, for example, hosts for an exhibition, showing photo art by Danish photographer Bent Rej together with Gallery Asbæk in 2010. Latest this Sunday, we held an Art Talk 'Do architecture need to entertain?' in collaboration with Chart Art Fair. Star Architect Bjarke Ingels from BIG and Bjørnstjerne Reuter Christiansen from Superflex answered questions from moderator Mark Rappolt, Editor-in-Chief at ArtReview. We like to do collaborations like that.''
Normann Copenhagen supports the Chart Art Fair, taking place from August 21-23, 2015.