How Danish Studio Norm Architects Designed Its First Yachting Project
Based in Copenhagen, Norm Architects is a Danish studio known for combining minimalist style with a refined and functional approach. Its streamlined aesthetic has been gracefully translated into the interior architecture of the 70ft (21.3m) yacht Bella, the first of the Y Yachts Y7 models manufactured by German boat builder Michael Schmidt Yachtbau.
The result is a warm and cosy ambience expressed through tactile surfaces, natural materials and matte finishes, with the walls, lighting, detailing and furnishings coming together in beautiful visual harmony. Katrine Goldstein, managing director and partner of the studio, tells us more about the firm’s inaugural yachting project.
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This is the first time that Norm Architects has worked with the yachting world. How did this collaboration begin?
Katrine Goldstein (KG) Michael Schmidt (the owner of Michael Schmidt Yachtbau) wanted to create a beautiful Nordic interior, a home on a boat. I trust that is the reason why we were assigned to the project and not a regular boat interior designer—he wanted something different. He took a chance on us in that way.
Tell us about your approach to this project.
KG Our values, or approach, are always the same and act as a common ground for everything we do. They are based entirely on the idea that spaces and furniture should, first and foremost, serve the user rather than be a means of artistic expression. This is what we call “soft minimalism”. It is about finding the very essence of form through a soft, warm and textural design language. I would argue that both elegance and comfort are crucial for us.
We see our design as sustainable as we seek to work with materials that are aesthetically long-lasting and, of course, age beautifully. Considering the size of all elements, capacity of storage, as well as the actual weight of materials, did play a vital role. However, our primary role and value on this project was to stay true to our approach and aesthetics, and not do what is usually expected in this business.
What was the biggest challenge you faced on this project?
KG Our biggest challenge was the many constraints that come with designing a space that is already so defined. We wanted to minimise the classic round corners as well as gaps and wasted spaces that occur when working with an irregular shape. We also wanted to challenge the general understanding of a luxurious yacht interior and move away from brass, glossy wood and other typical elements that people always see on the yachts and create a warm and exclusive atmosphere through tactile surfaces, natural materials and matte finishes.
Will we see more yachting projects designed by Norm Architects in the future?
KG Probably yes! Our strength on this project has also been that we are not boat designers to start with and I believe it’s important to keep our overall understanding of what makes a space. Having said that, we learnt a lot from this specific project and it would be great to get the chance to use that experience again.
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Denmark has a glorious past as a sailors’ country; what is your relationship with the sea like?
KG Being Danes, living in a country consisting of more than 400 islands and always being surrounded by the sea—the maritime universe is an inherent part of our culture. We have a long naval history, having always been a shipping nation, and we are in constant connection with all the privately owned sailing boats that are part of our costal environment. The sea almost seems omnipresent in Denmark and much like our furniture design tradition, we have a strong naval design tradition as well.
What are your plans for the future?
KG Our next step is to continue what we’re doing; to challenge ourselves and become better at what we already do and love. We would love to work on the interior design of more small hotels. Such projects fit us well as we like to combine the functionality and longevity of residential design with commercial spaces.
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