The People behind the Products: Part 1

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Those of you that know me well may have noticed my tendency to quote Bjork Lyrics, lines from Twin Peaks or Arrested Development, and on some special occasions, Absolutely Fabulous.  Today, I’m going to misquote my favorite special agent, Dale Cooper, and say “Today we’re going to focus on the N’s.” (Instead of the J’s as he said prior to the Tibetan rock-throwing exercise for those who’ve seen the wacky progam I have to re-watch every fall.)  I’d like to start this series by highlighting the work of Neevel’s Fine Woodworking, and Normann Copenhagen (both names starting with N, get it? Ha!), two early adopters of the Olson House concept.

I was first introduced to the work Eric Neevel, the owner of Neevel’s Fine Woodworking, at the annual Fine Furnishings show here in Milwaukee, where I was covertly scoping out great furniture makers for this adventure, that was just a flicker in the back of my brain at that point.



If you were able to attend our grand opening, you may have gotten to talk to Eric, as he humbly explained the work that went in to the custom tables he created based upon my wild and crazy design demands.


His craftsmanship is beautiful, and his work runs the gamut from traditional to contemporary.  Most of his work is custom, meeting the specific needs of clients.  Below is an example that stuck in my head from the Fine Furnishings Show that I thought was simply beautiful:


A great example of his custom capabilities?  Me, the ever-demanding designer!  I went to visit his woodworking studio in Clyman, WI where all the wood-crafting magic happens with idea of a display table. He crafted a 3″ thick solid cherry top and was able to collaborate with a Milwaukee metal smith, Metalsmoke Designs, to bring my table to life in a big, bad way.  Then I went on my grand Scandinavian research trip (more on that later), where I saw a super rad hexagonal table at a show called Finders Keepers in Copenhagen.  I love a good hexagon, and saw so much potential in it. I met with Eric regarding the idea, told him what I was looking for, but wanted to give him the flexibility to reinterpret the vision.  The result?  Ah-mazing!


Rhombus Table

He has created the pictured tables in both maple and oak, and all in time for the grand opening party at the end of June!  The joinery and detailing is superb, if you haven’t stopped in to see it in person, you must!  And they are for sale in store for $375 each, and what a value for such craftsmanship!  On another note, if you have been shopping for the perfect piece of wood furniture, but just can’t find it in stores, stop in and talk to me about how Eric and I may be able to design you the perfect piece for your style and function!

Next, I’d like to tell you about this relatively young Danish design company, Normann Copenhagen, started in 2002 by Jan Andersen and Poul Madsen with a lamp, the Norm 69.  Their mission is to “create original, bold and eye-catching products in a simple and contemporary design that withstands the test of time. Or in other words, to challenge conventional thinking and make the ordinary extraordinary through great and innovative design.”  I did a bit of research and found their products to be just the combination of unique yet timeless that I had been looking for.  I had really wanted to partner with companies I could get behind, so I sent an e-mail telling anonymous person on the other side of the info e-mail address a little bit about what I was trying to do in my little corner of the world.  To my surprise and happiness, I received a kind note back from Mads, the sales manager for the United States, and he was willing to work with little old me!  I was planning my big research trip, and Copenhagen was the first stop – it was kismet, and I was able to set up a meeting at their flagship store and kick the tires of their product and learn more about them live and in person.  It was so great to be able to see their products up close and learn more about their commitment to design and manufacturing.  Their Flagship is located in an old theater and is very assuming on the outside, but inside, it’s 3 floors of fabulous fun!


The above picture is taken from an article they published about the store in 2010, but the space is just as dramatic today as it was then.



Photo Jul 09, 2 50 41 PM
I fell in love with the simple, elegant design of their shelving units inspired by ladders, their shorebirds as I love a modern interpretation of just about any animal, and their stainless steel enameled Krenit bowls, in so many fun colors!  Well, those items, and so much more; let’s be honest, it was hard to put in a sensible sized first order! Alas, we only have so much space here on Oakland Avenue, but we have more product from them arriving in a few weeks – stay tuned.  It was so great  to put a face with an e-mail address, and Mads, the sales manager was able to send us to a bevy of other amazing design shops after we left our meeting.  It was an unforgettable experience, and I owe a good chunk of the success of the Copenhagen leg of the research trip to the meeting at Normann Copenhagen!


Here we are, with me looking sleepy from serious travel lag and then 8+ miles of walking the day before to keep ourselves awake after we landed.

Shout out to my good friend and design maven Aga Artka for joining me on the adventure and taking great photos of what we have dubbed the “Scandinavian Extravaganza”.  I’ll show you all more of the amazing design and product inspiration that we experienced during our research trip in further blog posts, promise!!

Thanks for being a friend,



A couple of the fab Normann Copenhagen products available in-store or online!

Krenit Bowl, 12.5 cm Dia

Buy Now

Shorebird, Medium, Sea Blue

Buy Now


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