Since childhood, Mads Thornam has always had a great passion for design. He was fascinated by Danish design and loved the classics. This inspiration led to him opening up his own company, BY THORNAM.
Read the interview below or find the whole interview here: INEX MAGAZINE 2017
Mads’ love for Danish design was accompanied by his fascination of designers like Philippe Starck, that in the 80s and 90s disrupted the way we looked at furniture. This remained a hobby and a passion for many years for Mads, in which he worked at several international advertising and media agencies. In 2015, he finally took a leap of faith and founded BY THORNAM.
“Based in the centre of Copenhagen, we are a network-based company that have teamed up with some of the best people in the business,” explains Mads. “When I worked in advertising, I was used to hiring freelancers and it was evident that I needed to copy this model if I wanted to work with the best and make a mark in this business.
“I want to reinvent the way we see and use furniture. My mission is to create and design furniture that instantaneously captures and soothes the body and mind. I have missed alternatives that add new perspectives to Danish design and that excite all your senses, open your creative mind and at the same time challenge ‘normality’.”
THE M is BY THORNAM’s first product launch. “I feel like we have launched three products at once because the THE M is a unique piece of furniture that can be transformed according to mood, lifestyle and need,” comments Mads. “It can be used as a daybed, lounge chair or a cosy, elegant headboard for your bed. Even though I worked on many different ideas, I knew from the start that THE M would make an impact because it invites you to relax, ‘pull the plug’ and take it slow.”
Mads was inspired by a leather gym mat that was introduced in gyms all over Europe and at the Olympics in the mid-1930s for the design of THE M. “They were used to lessen the ‘sting’ or impact when jumping off a pommel horse, beam or vault. The leather straps were placed to make it easier to move around, but also for easy attachment to a wall when not in use.
“About 10 years ago, the original leather mat resurfaced as an antique item and people began to buy and use it in various ways, but because it wasn’t meant for being used as a piece of furniture – it had some obvious limitations. It weighed 35 kilos and was almost impossible to move around. It wasn’t very comfortable and was stuffed with pig’s hair, which made it bulky and asymmetrical. Basically, a design nightmare!” explains Mads.
“I knew that if I had to turn it into a ‘dream’ it had to be totally redesigned. It took me a year – and a lot of prototypes – before it had the right shape and features to make it unique and one of a kind. One of the biggest challenges was making a piece of furniture that can be used to cover three complete different needs.”
The foam inside THE M consists of two different patented layers of foam that make it bendable, comfortable and light weight. Mads has both private and professional clients all over the world that use THE M in very different environments. “We have advertising agencies that use them in their conference rooms, hotels that use them as headboards in their rooms or lounge spaces, as well as clients that use them in their home or beach house inside and outside.”
Mads wanted to be true to the original design and made THE M in the finest aniline leather he could find. “Actually, never before has a piece of furniture used so much aniline leather on such a big surface without any seams disturbing the eye,” explains Mads.
He also wanted to add the possibility of mixing THE M with different kinds of textiles, so velvet was chosen for its warmth and comfort. “Textiles that look like antique carpets were chosen because gave it a cosy yet raw, antique look,” enlightens Mads. Mixing leather with textiles also gives THE M a more versatile look and the ability to turn according to mood.
The name, THE M, came up early on in the process as the prototype was referred to as ‘the mat’. “It just felt right to pay my respects to the original gym mat from the mid-1930s,” explains Mads.
“In Denmark, we have a proud design heritage that has spawned some of the greatest classics in the world. We are renowned for our craftsmanship, our attention to detail and our unique Scandinavian look. I was fortunate to meet one of the best upholstery makers in Denmark, that stays true to these principles – it is important for me that consumers can feel the love and passion that was put into making THE M.
“I think people are fascinated by the Scandinavians’ ability to mix simplicity and perfectionism at the same time. Scandinavian design has a more laid-back attitude even though we don’t cut corners or settle for compromises. We stay true to our DNA that is influenced by the principles of the masters.”
BY THORNAM has also just introduced THE M Headboard, which is an alternative version of THE M and can be used only as a headboard. Mads will be also introducing a chair, that has many similarities with the versatility and customisation aspects of THE M.