The architectural firm Space cph created the new Nordic-inspired interior, which underscores the honest and quality-conscious mindset that defines noma. With René Redzepi at the helm as chef and owner for the past ten years, the restaurant has put Copenhagen on the culinary world map with its rediscovery of Nordic ingredients and its reinvention of Nordic cuisine.
Being repeatedly selected as the world’s best restaurant obliges in many regards. Above all, with regard to the exceptional culinary experiences that are put on the table. Here, the goal is as simple as it is ambitious: noma should continue to develop and always be a little better today than it was yesterday. Another essential factor is that the design of the restaurant should frame the meal without stealing focus.
noma is known for its uncompromising and honest approach to raw ingredients, which have to be of outstanding quality, and the same attitude is reflected in the new decor.
Wood, coal and nature in the old warehouse
The interior design took shape in a process of close cooperation between the architects Signe Bindslev Henriksen and Peter Bundgaard Rützou from Space cph and noma. Above all, noma wanted the restaurant to appear natural and filled with nature’s materials.
noma resides in a warehouse with a rich atmosphere and a long history. The building is listed, which limits the scope of architectural creativity. Instead of transforming the interior completely and starting over from scratch, Space cph made a virtue of reusing some of the existing elements and combining them with a few new, natural design elements, including a floor made of HeartOak.
Both the chairs and the tables in the actual dining area are the original furniture, but they have been retreated to take on a completely new expression. The chairs were sand-blasted and wax-finished, and now, the surface almost looks like coal. After being sanded down and finished with ferrous sulphate and matt soap, the tables have acquired a beautiful grey colour, as if they had been standing on the beach, weathered by the elements. In addition, the entire colour scheme has been changed to match the ambience of the restaurant.
Design as seen by the chef
The new design helps set the scene for the unique dining experience that awaits the expectant guests. We asked René Redzepi about his thoughts on the new design and his own perception of it:
– noma is about Nordic cuisine, what impact has that had on the design of the restaurant?
“We always wanted the design of the restaurant to be simple and natural – the same approach that we take to the food. As keywords I would mention Nordic, unpretentious and simple”.
– What was the most important concern for you in creating the new design?
“Obviously, we are in a different place today than we were when we first opened, but our approach and our philosophy are unchanged. We wanted a design that reflects the same approach we had to design ten years ago, but in an updated version”.
– How do you perceive the noma design?
“The design helps make the first impression. I actually feel that we’ve managed to create a place where the design works and goes hand in hand with the functional aspects that also need to be in place because it’s a restaurant. The Dinesen plank floor has worked miracles. It’s beautiful, it’s a perfect match for noma’s style and mindset, and it has been a great acoustic improvement, which is very important for us – and an added bonus that we didn’t expect. The waiters, too, really love the thick oak planks. They are nice to walk on, and they also help create a good ambience in the restaurant”.
Craftsmanship and patina
The HeartOak floor has a unique and honest expression that is a perfect match for both the old warehouse and the new Nordic cuisine. The planks are full of vitality and history, as natural cracks are preserved out of respect for the up to 200-year-old oak trees. As a special detail, the cracks have been locked with butterfly joints of oak.
The degree of detailing and the exquisite craftsmanship create a sense of synergy between the oak planks and the culinary experience. In addition, Space cph focused on the nature of the wooden floor as a living material that ages over time and only grows more beautiful with age.
The architects see the plank floor as an experiential layer in its own right that supports the sense of focused attention and integrity that is also expressed in the meal.