Cool Friends: Sophie Lou Jacobsen
Meet Sophie, a product designer from NYC behind some of the city’s favorite glassware, furniture, and interiors.
What led you to begin your career as a product designer?
When I was 16, my parents moved our family back to France, where they are from, and I was thrown into the french school system my senior year of high school after having spent the rest of my school years in an American public school. It was quite a shock! The French school system is a lot more rigorous, strict, and intense. The only classes that were a relief to me were art classes, which I did enjoy back in the states but didn’t necessarily put as much emotional energy into. So when it came time to pick a university, I naturally leaned towards going to art school rather than going on to a traditional french university. I always had an appreciation and interest in spaces and objects, so at the time I thought architecture would be the path forward for me. But in my foundation year, I had a teacher who was a product designer, that I really got along with and respected, and she introduced me to the idea of designing objects as a career. I was pretty blown away that that was a real thing! Since then, there’s never been a moment where I hesitated that this was what I wanted to do.
What is inspiring you right now?
That’s a really hard one. Since the start of the pandemic, and lockdown, I’ve been feeling completely blocked and drained in terms of creativity and inspiration. Usually, I’m inspired by being outside, by observing human behavior, and the colors and textures and shapes that make up our built world. I also get inspired or triggered by feelings, things I see on the subway, an anecdote I heard, or a random conversation with a stranger or a friend. Naturally, none of that has been happening for the last couple of months. Aside from that, one emotion I’ve always tried to put into my work is joy, and again, I haven’t been able to muster a lot of joy and translate it into objects lately. It’s been difficult, and at first, I was really beaten up about it, but now I’ve learned (as I think we all have), to be patient, and to feel ok with a break— be it emotional, creative, productive, physical, or whatever else. I’m processing very different emotions, thoughts, and ideas than pre-COVID days, and I know that when the time is right, I’ll figure out how to translate that into design work, in a way that is true to this moment.
What’s your favorite part about the NYC creative community?
I love how big and open it is! I moved here 5 years ago from London, 5 years after having graduated from a British design school and still a relative nobody in terms of my career. In many cities, I think it would have been really really hard to enter the scene under those circumstances – so often networks are made in your university years and you need strong connections to end up in the right place at the right time to meet the right people. But in NY, there is a constant arrival of new creative talent, and rather than being threatened, the community embraces them. It’s totally acceptable to email someone you’ve never met and ask to meet for a coffee. In my experience, people are almost always willing to make connections, introductions, or think about who you need to meet to get to where you want to be. I think everyone comes here with a huge amount of energy and thirst for movement and so that becomes an attractive quality in new people. I’m actually a pretty shy person, and because of the relatively reserved nature of British mentality (though I absolutely love it, relate to it and miss it!), I found it really difficult to put myself out there. Whereas here, I feel like I got swept away in the perpetual motion of the creative energy of the city before my feet barely touched the ground. It’s pretty special, and no other city I’ve lived in has quite felt like it.
@sophieloujacobsen on Instagram