Born in Germany, Norman moved to Scotland as a child and has spent the last 18 years in London. He first arrived in the UK to study photography, philosophy and critical theory at LCC and Kingston respectively, and now, you’ll find him based between both London and Scotland as he continues to build on his impressive portfolio in which light and graphic compositions reign supreme. “I was initially attracted to the immersive qualities of the medium: the way that I could manage the whole process on my own from start to finish, losing myself completely in that process,” he says. “I was drawn to its unique and direct connection to reality and the scope for exploiting its condition. I still delight in its tactility and its magical qualities of chance and surprise.” Not only this, but Norman predominantly shoots on film – a deliberate choice for the added surprise and ability to control the process himself.
While photographing Joseph’s studio, Norman built on a concept that he developed with his partner, Maja, who he works with under the practice Organ; a creative studio focusing on photography, design and creative direction. “The idea was to chart the evolving course and scale of the studio through showcasing new commissions and reflecting the life, environment and culture of the present moment.” Achieving just that, the book itself appears timeless in its photographic style, tone and format. So much so that they developed the publication in a way that can be updated with each edition, “incorporating a language of shapes drawn from his work and an interview transcript of a conversation I recorded with Joseph during a walk in the woods,” he adds.
Additionally, the idea of formality is a key player throughout the visuals and pace of the project. Between each piece of furniture, Norman wanted to connect the variety of scale, materials and intent found amongst the designer’s craft. “Layering and revelation are intrinsic to the make-up of the natural materials (some formed over centuries) and to the limits to which they could be shaped or pushed through radical intervention at the hands of the maker.” With this in mind, the depth is palpable. In a portrait of Joseph, for instance, he’s captured amongst a cluster of pieces while an object simultaneously blurs the side of the frame. In another, a curtain covers a chair and adds a sense of mystery to the configuration of the image; three of its legs poke out from the bottom and only a faint outline of the chair’s structure is revealed through the material.
The film, on the other hand, was shot on both 16mm and digital as it presents the designer in his environment, “as he ruminates on how and what it is to make his work at this particular moment in time,” says Norman. A scored soundtrack is accompanied by a voice-over from Joseph, and the film “weaves its path through a course of vignettes from his oak forest through to his workshop and studio, and describes a loose passage from day to night.” Much like the publication, the film is contemplative and poetic – a true signifier of what happens when two creative individuals join together in art.