We chat with Sophie Lou Jacobsen on her design practice, the challenges she faces and where she derives her inspiration from.
Q. What was your journey to designing unique glassware?
My exploration with glassware began in 2018 in response to a brief for a group show during NY Design Week. The show was called Furnishing Utopia, which is a collective of designers who reinterpret the philosophy and aesthetic of the American Shakers in a modern context, and this year the theme of the show was “Hands to Work” - specifically focused on the Shaker’s belief that work, and daily routine tasks or “chores” brought them closer to God. So my response was a set of of vessels encouraging people to create their own cleaning supplies, that were beautiful in their own right and that would bring both visual and functional joy to their user. The vessels were mostly made from glass, and I found in glass a material that spoke my personal design language very well. I continued to explore working this material, and soon had my small collection, which has now become the back bone of my brand.
Q. Where do you derive your inspiration from?
I find inspiration in observing people, and their relationship to objects, which greatly varies based on culture, society, etc. My goal is to create a mutual respect between humans and their physical objects.
Q. What are some of the challenges you face as a product designer?
Mostly just time! Finding enough time to run a small business on my own, and continue to be creative and have space for exploration and make new things. Money is also always a huge hurdle, in terms of having the funds to get things produced when you don't have outside investment or loans. Which also leads to the last thing - perceived value of objects. There is a lot of fine tuning that goes into finding the right production/manufacturing process that gets items to the right price point, but often there is so much that goes into bringing a product to market that people don’t necessarily realise. Someone might look at something small, that was manufactured overseas, and ask themselves “why is this so expensive”, because they are used to seeing something similar be a lot cheaper, but so much of it has to do with scale, labor practices, and essentially how the designer or business owner chooses to run their operation. I think there is generally a disillusionment over the cost of goods in our society.
Q. For those who don’t know different types of glass, are you able to explain the kind of glass you use?
Borosilicate glass is a type of glass typically used for scientific lab ware. It is heat resistant and very strong though it can be quite thin. It’s also processed using a very different technique than your typical soda lime glass, it’s worked with a torch either on a lathe or by hand, rather than in a furnace. The process makes it a great material for extreme precision, which isn’t always the case with typical glass-working (which has its own beautiful qualities and attributes).