Scandinavian jewellery designer, Sophie Bille Brahe has always been a dreamer and a creator of tiny, beautiful universes. Sophie has always known what she wanted to be and her talents for creation were fostered from a young age. It is a support and a passion that has seen her complete a Masters in jewellery design at the Royal College of Arts in London. Her family is one of brilliant and creative minds, and her great affinity with and love of the sky and its mysteries stems from her ancestor, the great astronomer, Tycho Brahe. Organic, sensuous shapes meet strict geometry in her collections, which are always imbued with elements of narrative drawn from a variety of influences from architecture to painting, and nature to ancient mythology. Sophie’s approach for her eponymous label is entirely poetic. She elegantly transforms fables and her own dreams into exciting and very wearable designs, resulting in a cult following of likeminded women. She is committed to using only the finest materials from gold to diamonds and flawless pearls, which she sources from all over the world, and draws upon her traditional Scandinavian design heritage in the creation of her pieces. Her practice is one indicative of true genius and inspired vision, and her passion for storytelling and contemporary adornment are never short of affecting. Sophie is a craftswoman, and an artisan par excellence and a dreamer of the highest order. The sky is definitely not the limit for this designer. It is only the beginning.
Sophie Flecknoe: Firstly can you tell me a little about yourself? How would you define what you do?
Sophie Bille Brahe: To become a jeweller was never something I chose – it was the profession that chose me. It felt completely natural to shape things by hand and create small universes. It is what I have always been best at. I’m a bit of a dreamer. I see things that inspire me and I start to dream. The dreams eventually become universes.
You grew up in Copenhagen, labelling your young self as a dreamer growing up in imaginary worlds. Can you describe your childhood?
My great-great-great-great-great-grandfather was the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, the founder of modern astrology and observer of one of the stars in Cassiopeia, so I’ve always been very fascinated by the moon and the stars. My father has always had a very poetic approach to life, which is something I’ve inherited from him.
History and traditions are cherished in our family. For instance, we have this Chinese closet, a family treasure that has been passed on for generations. There is something magical about that closet because of its story and all the things it is filled with. It contains many different childhood memories such as carved animals and old letters. One of my first memories was that I, on Sundays, was allowed to pick a drawer in the closet where I would spent the entire day looking at treasures. One morning I found an antique diamond ring that my parents didn’t know existed. My dad gave me the ring because I found it, which made me understand the value of jewellery. It was at that point I understood why people get so attached to these beautiful objects. To me it was the greatest treasure ever found at that time.
When did you know you wanted to be a jewellery designer?
When I was 14 years old. I knew exactly what I wanted and was already at that time looking for an apprenticeship, but chose high school before pursuing the jewellery career.
You have a Masters in design from London’s Royal College of the Arts. How has a formal education influenced your design process?
Firstly in my education I went to a technical school in order to become a goldsmith and then RCA as a jewellery designer. At RCA they encouraged me to follow my dreams and my ideas.
Your mother is a nurse and your father is a surgeon. Where did your creative energy and drive come from?
Surgery is in many ways also a craft and my father is a very creative person – I think it’s from my father that I inherited my creative faculties. In addition, my schooling at The Bernadotte School has also influenced me in the creative direction. The Bernadotte School is a school that believes that children have a talent and that all talents are equally valuable.
Your designs always strive for modern luxury. What is your characterisation of the luxurious?
Good craftsmanship, quality materials and last but not least it has to have a twist that makes it exciting and rare.
Who is the archetypal Sophie Bille Brahe woman? Do you design with a specific individual in mind? Perhaps yourself?
I would describe the Sophie Bille Brahe woman to be a woman who is confident about her style and [who] does not allow herself to be dictated by fashion. The women who inspire me are my girlfriends and people I hold dear.
Your eponymous label uses only the purest and finest raw materials. Where do you source them?
Quality has always been very important to me. I only work with the finest quality in material whether it is pearls, diamonds or gold. We source our material from where we can find the best quality. The South Sea pearl comes from Australia; the Akoya pearl is from Japan and the Tahiti pearl is of course from Tahiti.
What does jewellery mean to you personally? What should it mean for a wearer?
I put great virtue in having a poetic approach to each piece of jewellery.
Furthermore, I hope people associate my jewellery with high quality and artisanship. Jewellery is interesting because it often carries on a story – pieces that have been handed down in generations to new family members – that is what I hope to accomplish with my own jewellery.
Is travel a major component of your work? Where is one place you would love to visit but haven’t yet?
I’m inspired everywhere, no matter where I go. I love traveling and travel a lot because of my work. My dream destinations at the moment are Tahiti and the south of Spain where I would like to see Dali’s summer home and his jewellery collection
Where do you find inspiration or fuel for designing?
I get inspired everywhere in my surroundings. Inspiration is hard to explain – it is something, which really cannot be defined, but floats around me. I use my own life and my family’s history. Additionally, I also tend to daydream a lot and it is in these dreams my designs are born.
How has your Scandinavian heritage influenced your work? Is it something you draw from?
Yes very much so. The bluish sky, the clean lines, the simplistic approach to design and the light in Vilhem Hammehøi’s paintings influence me.
Your Le Fenetre collection was inspired by the architecture of the Grand Palais in Paris and the Crystal Palace from London’s famous Great Exhibition. What elements of architecture correlate in your jewellery?
Clean lines, renewed details and window reflection. Le Corbusier, Fornasseti and Brancusi were also great inspirations.
Your designs are based on the premise of story telling and avant-garde design. How do you include narratives in your collections?
It is natural for me to construct and create designs. The storytelling that follows along is something I’ve always done – that’s how I think and live.
You are the great-great-great granddaughter of Tycho Brahe, the world-renowned astronomer. Is astronomy something that inspires you in and outside your work?
Yes, everything related to the sky and the stars is my passion.
How does it feel to have acquired a cult following of quite famous and influential women that you have through your work?
I’m just happy people like my designs – for me it doesn’t matter whether it is Madonna or very ordinary people who like my jewellery.
You are trying to find new ways of wearing jewellery, for example, only wearing your Croissant de Lune on one ear. What are some of your other ideas or approaches?
Jewellery is a beautiful element to a women’s attire because it can be used for highlighting or emphasising different areas of a woman’s body. I always keep that in mind when making my collections.
Can you tell me about the production process? How does a design make its way from idea to finished product?
I work with the metal, like a sculpture. I have a universe I want to express and in that process the jewellery tend to develop.
What poetics do you see in gold? Why is it the material that is the foundation of your designs?
A glow, a softness and a hardness – it is a wonderful material to work with. You become almost hypnotised by working with it.
Having only launched your label in 2011 you’ve come such a long way already. What’s next for you? Do you have any goals you’d like to achieve in the next few years?
The sky is the limit! I love what I do and everyday I’m grateful that I can live from what I do best. My short-term goal is to expand my little company even further although the past three years have been so crazy and fun. I will keep on aiming for the sky – the sky is the limit.