The new norm of going around in circles

In this interview, Jonas Kjellberg, initiator and Chairman of the Board of NORNORM, talks about why subscribing is better than buying – and why going round in circles should become the new norm.

Zilenzio Focus

Why do you think the time is right for NORNORM?

-We must rethink how we create new business models. The fact that the planet is running out of resources means that the linear, take-make-waste economy will have to make way for a circular approach in all aspects of life, including the office. I’m passionate about finding new business opportunities, and although the change to a circular economy poses many challenges, it also creates many opportunities.

Meanwhile, we’re throwing away more furniture than ever. By most estimates, less than 10% of office furniture is used beyond the first office it inhabits. That’s why giving furniture a second shot at life is a great way to mitigate environmental harm.

In recent years, we’ve also started to redefine the concept of the office, a trend enhanced by the pandemic. We’ve been forced to think creatively about how and where we work. Why invest in expensive furniture when you don’t know what the future will bring?


What are the ideas behind the NORNORM concept?

- The concept is based on creating a virtuous circle, in which office furniture no longer needed in one office will be refurbished and get a new life somewhere else, prolonging its life span by decades. But there is much more to it than that; we aim to create a one-stop destination for affordable, functional and inspiring business interiors — tailored to the needs of every individual company — based on a subscription solution.

The core of the concept is, in fact, to offer circular and attractive office interiors that are accessible to the many companies. That’s how we can become change-makers and make a real impact. That’s why we’ve created this highly affordable subscription model that requires no investment or long-term commitments. The company simply sends us their floor plan, and in only 48 hours they’ll get a proposal of how their new office could look. They are also provided with the opportunity to scale up or scale down their office, or turn functions around.

Circularity is key in all aspects of the business, which means that we must try to optimise every part of the chain; from what items we choose to work with to how they are packed, transported and eventually refurbished.

But it’s also important to stress that this is a learning process for us, as well. We are humble when it comes to the task and what we must achieve – but bold in our ambition.

What did you choose the name NORNORM?

- It alludes to our Nordic heritage, which is evident in the design of the solutions we offer. We believe that timeless design is essential for the circularity of the concept. The pieces we use must feel as contemporary tomorrow as they do today in order to give them a long lease of life.

You’ve talked about how the concept will benefit the planet, but how will it benefit people and their businesses as well?

- Happier employees collaborate better, build more self-esteem and are more productive. By creating beautiful and functional workspaces, we can encourage creativity and raise productivity. Our subscription model allows businesses to invest in developing their business, instead of in expensive interiors. The circularity of the concept also is vital as companies around the world face stricter requirements from society, as well as from investors, with regard to sustainability. This means that going circular in all aspects of your business becomes increasingly important from both an ethical and competition point of view.

That’s why all our stakeholders will benefit from a circular approach, and why we are founded on the belief it should become the new norm.