Reduced to perfection

With the new “Cask” collection of lounge furniture for Expormim, Norm Architects demonstrates just how versatile rattan furniture can be.
by Anna Moldenhauer | 9/14/2021

The challenging thing about a simple design is that it makes the spectator aware of every little detail. Consistency is required to pass muster – from the bottom of a chair to the backrest of a sofa. Norm Architects are experts within this field and have managed to introduce this simplicity and precision in their work, resulting in a design where no element needs to be added nor reduced. For the new “Cask” collection of lounge furniture by Expormim the multi-disciplinary team has scrutinized the various ways in which natural rattan can be used. The basic structure is created from nothing more than two rounded pieces of rattan connected with thinner, vertical ribs and combined with a comfortable upholstery for a cozy and relaxed design. This is not classic wicker furniture but instead a streamlined and modern design, reflecting the familiarity of past traditions.

“As architects we are highly analytical and always begin by focusing on the geometry. Then we give the form a more organic feel in order to create something with a human reference, and in everything we do we try to strike a balance between geometry and the biomorphic,” explains Norm Architects’ Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen. The armchair, sofa and seating island in the “Cask” lounge collection blend unobtrusively with their surroundings and can be positioned as desired, thanks to their circular design. The combination of natural rattan and generous upholstery creates a cozy, relaxed atmosphere and has a certain presence without seeking to become the center of attention. Moreover, with the wide range of tinted rattan and textile finishes available, the pieces can likewise show a bold and playful side – a characteristic suitable to any contemporary space. While the appearance of the furniture is light, the materials used for “Cask” are all sturdy, finished with a water-based coating, making sure that the furniture won’t be affected by the ultraviolet rays from the sun.

Open for new approaches

At the beginning of their collaboration, Norm Architects visited the Expormim production facilities in Mogente outside of Valencia, Spain: “Before we start the design process, we always try to go out and visit the manufacturer. We believe that for us to come up with creative ideas that can actually be realized, we need to understand how these ideas can be implemented, technically speaking” explains Bjerre-Poulsen. Apart from experiencing the facilities at Expormim – which not only uses traditional manual methods for working the rattan but also relies on the precision of CNC machines – he also appreciated the opportunity to exchange ideas with the craftsmen and women: “The great thing about a collaboration between designers and artisans is that they complement each other,” he says.

Together they scrutinized the various ways in which natural rattan can be used to strike a balance between creative ideas and technical realization and experimented with the various ways that the material can be worked: “Expormim has a long tradition in making furniture from rattan, but it remains open to embarking on new paths with designers. The latter always introduces a certain naivety and freshness to the process and manages to redefine the existing options. This forms the basis for innovative ideas,” says Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen, summing up the journey.