French American industrial designer Sophie Lou Jacobsen makes people feel good. It’s why her collection of whimsically curved and bright glassware (like the Ripple Cup and Piano Cocktail Glasses) feels ubiquitous in all the buzzy home goods stores. The designer—who studied at Central Saint Martins before working at Ladies and Gentlemen Studio—wasn’t expecting the almost immediate success she found when launching her eponymous brand in 2019 and even continues to grow. Her latest collection, Setting The Table, expands Jacobsen’s style, informed by a certain joie de vivre.
“One thing that has always been very important to me in the way that I create is to convey a sense of joy. I’ve always said since the beginning that that’s kind of the foundation of the products that I put out into the world,” she tells us. “I’m sort of designing by responding to my own emotions and how I like to see the world as a kind of lighthearted place.”
It’s a tenderness that’s felt immediately with her designs, conveyed by replacing typically straight lines with playful curvature and being detailed without distracting from clear silhouettes. The result is both simple and elevated. “It’s not necessarily purely geometric, but it’s kind of abstracting the essence of what that part of the object is. For example, a handle doesn’t need to be just a handle shape, it can have waves; there can be more to it, rethinking every element of a piece from a formal standpoint,” says the designer. “Even by playing with whatever shape that is, it’s a simplicity in like, ‘Oh, this is a handle—what is a handle?’ That can be reimagined. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and I don’t want to add things that don’t need to be there but rather reduce it to its bare minimum.”
The design is aspirational, channeling a way of life that is thoughtful regarding the objects and people within. This ethos guides Jacobsen in life as well as in her practice. “I think that all humans relate to objects, whether they realize it or not. It’s a relationship with intimacy, like there’s an energy that’s passed off from the objects that we use,” she continues.
“If it’s something that functions, that is aesthetically pleasing, that helps you at the task at hand, then it’s pleasant and useful. Or, if it does the opposite, if it functions really poorly, it’s going to create negative energy. I think that there’s a lot of transfer of energy—for lack of a better word—between the manmade world and the humans that interact with them,” she says.
The role of a designer, Jacobsen explains, is to foster a nurturing relationship to these objects: “My duty is to create objects but really I just want to make sure that the energy that’s offered by them is one that is helpful, pleasant and joyful and that basically brightens up the day of the person left interacting with it,” she says. “If I’m successful at that, then there’s a sense of respect that is automatically created between the user and the object, and if there’s respect and appreciation, they’ll cherish it more and they’ll value it more and take care of it. My goal is that hopefully I’m creating things people will want to hang on to for a long time and eliminate the need to be replacing it or buying more.”
For her latest collection, the designer expands her work to a new material: metal. Squiggles and swirls characterize Setting The Table, continuing the essence of the designer’s visual language while evolving its lexicon to include ribbon-like finishes and braided stainless steel. Whereas previous glass collections have been produced locally in New York when possible or in China where borosilicate glass is made, the metalware was produced in India. Here there’s a touch more drama in the tabletop collection, recalling the flair and romance of Victorian antiques which Jacobsen modernizes with the nature of the industrial material as well as its pared back and strong formal expressions.
Of the future, the designer says, “I don’t want to be pigeon-holed in a certain aesthetic, so I do think there will be a constant evolution of where the brand goes.” Already, this is unmistakably evident in the ways she’s extended her brand’s narrative with intriguing iterations and the hopeful plans she tells us about going forward: “I have big dreams of expanding into furniture and doing more lighting, and I’m hoping to grow into different areas as well.” Without a doubt, these future collections will continue to surprise in the most delightful of ways.
Hero image by Jessi Frederick, courtesy of Sophie Lou Jacobsen