Interview: Tete a Tat With Sophie Lou Jacobsen
One cold October afternoon, I spoke to a friend on the phone; we discussed all the pitfalls of working for yourself, the antiques trade and a few other cumbersome matters. He did mention in passing that the following week, Paris would be awash with design activity. As it would seem I live under a rock, I had no idea what he was talking about, but boy I did an excellent job of pretending I did (a well-honed skill). Once I put down the phone, I did a few searches and saw the many exciting things in the offing. I booked a train to Paris and a week later - Bon Voyage!
I started at Thema, a show which integrated dealers, designers and makers, all set within a magnificent hôtel particulier. From there I trotted along to Design Miami/Paris; a very different beast that was set in the former home of Karl Lagerfeld. It was big money, big men talking big money, smoking and shaking hands. I felt like the proverbial fish out of water, but that did not diminish my excitement at seeing and walking inside Jean Prouvé’s 6x6 Demountable House, 1944, exhibited by Galerie Patrick Seguin. Once my backpack and I made it out unscathed, I marched on to my next appointment: An exhibition featuring the works of ZN ALI, Conie Vallese and the subject of this week's Tete a Tat, Sophie Lou Jacobsen. It was part of the ‘Contributions’ offering of shows dotted around Paris. Their collaboration resulted in an extraordinary installation where each of their works wove into one another in an odd, charming, beguiling way. It was here where I met Sophie. I have been a long-time fan of her designs. Her portfolio of work is jaw-dropping, and with each new piece, I am confounded by her vision and mastery of glass and other materials. So it is clear why I wanted to find out more.
Jacobsen grew up in Seattle with her French parents. When she was 16, they moved to Paris, where she would finish her school career. The change in the school system (and a more academically rigid structure) meant she found the move challenging. On reflection however, she sees this as an essential part of her career, as it acted as a catalyst for her to take a more active role in her direction. As she tells Tetera in 2021: 'It was a sort of blessing in disguise; I decided to go to art school instead, and there I met a professor who introduced me to the discipline of industrial design.' Once her schooling in Paris was complete, she headed over to the UK to study at that lighthouse of creativity, Central St Martins. Here, she studied design, and ended up spending eight years enjoying what London had to offer: the rich history of design, the multi-culturalism, and the city's vibrancy. But sadly, we eventually lost out to New York after she felt she was stagnating in London (something I can relate to: 35 and I've completely stalled).
On moving to New York, she was introduced to Dylan Davis and Jean Lee, the founders of the Brooklyn-based Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, where she subsequently worked for three years as their Studio Assistant. She learnt the workings of an independent design studio and was introduced to the New York design scene, but after a few years, decided to go it alone. In 2019, she established her design studio, and since then there has been no looking back for this creative force. She has won awards, exhibited worldwide and managed to continually capture the zeitgeist in a charming and heartfelt way. As ever, I was extraordinarily pleased Sophie was happy to take part in Tete a Tat.
This is a difficult question! I have different favourites for different reasons - type of food, mood, vibe. In Paris, I love Josephine Chez Dumonet. It’s a traditional brasserie that feels very intimate, simple and not fussy but every detail is perfect. I would follow it with a cocktail at Rosebud, maybe my favourite bar in the world, that is just a short walk away.
Any good advice? Who gave it to you?
“Your head is full of what other people have told you, where as your gut is truly you. Trust your gut.” - my father.
Top Destination in the UK?
The Ladies Pond in Hampstead Heath
What is the best gift you have been given?
My bike, which has been my trusted companion across two cities for the past decade.
Pine needles in rain, or the smell of the Ocean (from my Seattle childhood 🙃)
Do you believe in Star Signs?
Yes! 8x a Virgo
What film can you watch on repeat?
Paris, Texas by Wim Wenders
What was the last book that you read? Did you enjoy it?
The Hare with The Amber Eyes, by Edmund De Waal. It beautifully encapsulates the story of art, turn of the century politics, and a family history through the guise of the meaning of objects, which I very much appreciate.
Best Moment in your career so far?
The launch of “Flora”, a lighting collection I designed in collaboration with In Common With, last September. I have never been more proud of how something I participated in releasing into the world was received by the public. There’s no better feeling than when people reiterate to you the emotion you’re trying to achieve with an object, without having to explain it.
Which leads to another highlight - when Mike D from the Beastie Boys came to our Bar Flora installation in Milan during Salone. Teenage me would never believe it.
Cinema or theatre?
If you could be a fly on the wall, where would you land?
One of the costume parties at the Bauhaus
What song always makes you tap your foot?
Dancing On My Own - Robyn