Black beauties: Norm Architects discover the darker side of Danish design

The annual Danish design
Installation view the latest edition of the annual Danish design show Cabinetmakers' Autumn Exhibition, this year curated by Norm Architects. Pictured: 'Nesting Wall', by Dögg Guðmundsdóttir
(Image credit: Dögg Guðmundsdóttir)

Pitch black was Norm Architects’ concept for the Cabinetmakers’ Autumn Exhibition – a dramatic vision that applied both to the exhibits and the exhibition design. Staged in Copenhagen’s Lapidarium of Kings – a museum of classic stone sculpture – the task was to create a temporary exhibition within a permanent one, using only the subtleties of light and shadow.

Visitors encounter each furniture piece lit by single spotlight, with the rest of the space plunged into darkness. The idea is to encourage a slow and multi-sensory appreciation of design that indulges more than just the eyes. Norm Architects co-founder Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen says: 'The world of design is becoming extremely visual and we wanted to enhance the haptic experience. In the dark, viewing design requires much more attention – you really have to discover each piece in detail and see with your whole body.'

Left Papyrus and Right Snaregade

Left: 'Papyrus' by Henrik Sørig Thomsen, for Godsbanens A&bne Værksteder. Right: 'Snaregade' bench, by Norm Architects, for Sørensen Læder

(Image credit: Henrik Sørig Thomsen)

All of the exhibition’s 48 experimental furniture pieces carry the pitch-black theme; in colour but also exploring abstract ideas of darkness. James Stoklund & Sine Ringgaard’s '3in1' chair has a stained wood wedge that joins two bent aluminium planes seemingly invisibly, and Norm Architects’ own 'Snaregade' bench explores the deepness of aniline leather upholstery and a blackened steel frame.

Fun has been had with site-specific staging too. Stone busts are turned seemingly in conversation over charred-wood side table, and a stack of chairs loosely shaped in a horse-like form reaches eye-level with an equestrian statue.

Bjerre-Poulsen says getting visitors and designers used to the idea of viewing design in the dark has been a challenge, but worth it. He adds, 'It may be that this exhibition is not made for Instagram but surely a furniture exhibition that engages touch and sound is much more unusual.'

The Lapidarium of Kings in Copenhagen

From left: 'Mirror, mirror on the stand...', by Claus Landry Bjerre; and installation view of the exhibition's historic site, The Lapidarium of Kings in Copenhagen

(Image credit: Claus Landry Bjerre)

Norm Architects Cabinetmakers

'Black Incubus', by Jakob Sievers & Anders Henckel; and 'Ember', by Troels Flensted, for Brdr Krüger

(Image credit: Jakob Sievers & Anders Hencke, Troels Flensted)

Tube Chairs

'Tube Chairs', by Torben Skov, for Montana Møbler A/S; and 'A Stack of Chairs', by Tinna Sommer & Marie Berrim for Anton Balle A/S

(Image credit: Torben Skov,Tinna Sommer & Marie Berrim)

Stacking Chair

'Stacking Chair', by Ditte Hammerstrøm, by JM Rør A/S; and 'The Vanta Box', by Rikke Frost, for Godsbanens Åbne Værksteder

(Image credit: Ditte Hammerstrøm,JM Rør A/S, Rikke Frost Rikke Frost)


’Pitch Black’ runs until 30 October. For more information visit the Snedkernes Efterårsudstilling website


The Lapidarium of Kings
Christian IV’s Brewhouse
Frederiksholms Kanal 29