Changing the office furniture landscape

Filip Johannesson, Head of Growth at NORNORM, talks about how their launch in the UK has been so far and why the IKEA-backed office furniture subscription service aims to be a catalyst of change to circularity in the workspace.

European circular scale-up company NORNORM officially launched in the UK earlier this year with a mission to help businesses significantly reduce their environmental impact by moving from single-use office furniture to its circular, subscription-based furnishing service.

NORNORM has already secured significant commercial partnerships in London, including Sustainable Ventures, where NORNORM provided furniture for their new office of 14,000sqft, on the 5th floor of County Hall. Additionally, NORNORM has also collaborated with Miro on their new London office, marking the fourth city and fifth project where NORNORM will be providing our circular furniture to Miro.

After almost six months in the UK, we caught up with Filip Johannesson, Head of Growth at NORNORM, to find out how the brand and their model is settling into the British market. “The response has been absolutely phenomenal. The UK has shown the most interest across all of our 12 markets. In fact, we’ve been inundated with opportunities to the point that we’ve had to decline projects in Scotland because we’re not yet operational there.

“For the time being, our primary focus is on the Greater London, Birmingham, and Manchester areas. A lot of customers are really excited about the speed and ease of the process as we can deliver a fully functioning office within four weeks, including the time to make designs and design iterations. Last time I checked we are working on projects in the UK totalling approximately 750,000sqft.”

NORNORM currently operates in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, and Austria. So, why was the UK a target market?

“We chose the UK primarily for two reasons,” Filip continued. “Firstly, it’s the largest market in Europe for office real estate, which makes it an obvious choice for our business. Secondly, the UK is at the forefront of both real estate and proptech innovation, which aligns seamlessly with our own ethos. Furthermore, there’s a strong cultural bond between the UK and our Nordic design and sustainability focus, making it a natural fit for us.”

With NORNORM’s circular model, businesses can expect improved flexibility, cost efficiency, and environmental benefits. By adopting circularity, NORNORM is aiming to set a new norm for the office furniture industry, as well as contributing towards tackling furniture waste generated by existing, linear models.

Compared to traditional office furniture purchasing models, NORNORM’s circular subscription service allows businesses to significantly reduce their carbon footprint and avoid the negative environmental impact associated with traditional linear models. NORNORM’s model has been found to reduce CO2 emissions too. So, how does it work?

“Our subscription model is an all-inclusive service that covers office design, furniture, delivery, assembly, service, and changes,” Filip said. “What makes it really special is its flexibility; you can swap out furniture as your business needs evolve, without being burdened by past purchasing decisions. Moreover, our service is completely circular, which means we refurbish and reuse all furniture items. This has the added benefit of saving over 70% in CO2 emissions and waste.

“We want to be the catalyst of change to circularity in the workspace industry. NORNORM is part of the progressive market meeting the demands and experiencing strong growth. NORNORM is not just a concept, a company, or a service — it is a new and circular way of doing business.”

NORNORM has secured €110m in funding with investors like Verdane, the European specialist growth equity firm, along with co-founders Inter IKEA Development, part of the IKEA group. “While IKEA is indeed an investor, and we’re fortunate to have team members with over 20 years of experience at IKEA, particularly in product design and logistics, they don’t actually provide the furniture for our venture,” Filip revealed. “We currently collaborate with a range of other reputable companies like Martela, Herman Miller, Hay, Gemla, Zilenzio, and Hem.”

NORNORM has seen strong growth since its launch back in 2020, and in under two years, has sold over 500,000 square meters of office furniture subscriptions. With the UK market now firmly part of its plans, Filip shared what’s in the pipeline for growth here in Britain. “Our immediate plans include building out our operations in London and thereafter expanding up North. More than just a business, we’re aiming to contribute to creating a strong and vibrant community focused on circularity and sustainable offices.

“NORNORM’s innovative model is already meeting the demand and has been recognised as a game-changer in the industry. We like to emphasise the importance of collective effort in addressing the environmental crisis. It’s crucial that we rethink traditional business models and adopt more sustainable practices.

“As Marijn Driessen, from Business Innovation at BSBP, aptly put it, ‘The burden is on interior architects and their clients to reduce embodied carbon in remodelling projects, and to do so by-design! This is not an easy conversation to have or business case to make. But it can be done. Like we did by collaborating with NORNORM for IWG locations around the world’.”

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