Novo Nordisk - Canadian HQ

Q&A with Joanne Chan, Principal & Bruce Freeman, Design Director at SDI Design Firm

How did SDI identify client needs and brand messaging?

The design process was very collaborative and inclusive. Working with Novo Nordisk’s steering committee and its President, with SDI acting as the bridge, the design team connected the business initiatives to the physical embodiment of the company’s cultural and brand objectives. We proposed a design narrative that incorporated the blending of Nordic Canadian & Danish cultures, celebrating the fact that Novo Nordisk’s original pharmaceutical product was invented here in Toronto. Allegories were created that represented the cultural linkages and provided a toolkit for Novo Nordisk to concisely communicate these messages to staff in a somewhat whimsical way.

Why were Fritz Hansen products chosen – specifically the AntTM Chair?

The client, with the design team’s full support, expressed a strong desire to pay homage to its corporate roots by using the same chair in its new Canadian canteen as had been used many decades earlier in a Novo Nordisk Copenhagen manufacturing building. The chair is Fritz Hansen’s classic AntTM, designed in 1952 by Arne Jacobsen specifically for the staff lunchroom of the Novo Industry building in Copenhagen. Some 60+ years later, the iconic chair is still fresh and relevant, standing the test of time. The client also retained and relocated several SwanTM chairs, fittingly upholstered in a bespoke “Novo Nordisk” blue fabric designed by Fritz Hansen.