Paris apartment by Sophie Dries. Photography by Stephan Julliard.
Paris apartment by Sophie Dries. Photography by Stephan Julliard.
DESIGNER OF THE DAY

Designer of the Day: Sophie Dries

The Parisian architect lets materials, history, and alchemy guide her projects, which range from a chromatic collection of marble furniture to sumptuous lofts in the 7th Arrondissement.

The Parisian architect lets materials, history, and alchemy guide her projects, which range from a chromatic collection of marble furniture to sumptuous lofts in the 7th Arrondissement.

Here, we ask designers to take a selfie and give us an inside look at their life.

Age: 32

Occupation: Architect and designer.

Instagram: @sophiedriesarchitect.

Hometown: Paris.

Studio location: Paris and Milan.

Describe what you make: I am trained as an architect but work mainly on interior design. I also experiment with materials through collectible furniture lines showcased in exhibitions and galleries.

Marble samples. Photography by Piet Albert Goethals.

The most important thing you’ve designed to date: A chromatic marble furniture line that pushes materials to their limits while revealing my alchemical research. I’m showing it at an upcoming museum show about architect-designed furniture since 1960. I frequently find myself explaining that architects have always designed objects and furniture—the act of distinguishing between product design and spatial design is recent and, frankly, a waste of time! Frank Lloyd Wright, Alvar Aalto, and Le Corbusier all designed buildings as well as their door handles, carpets, and curtains.

Describe the problem your work solves: My interiors reflect the intimacy of a person or family. My furniture, however, aims to honor traditional techniques while bringing them into modernity. It’s always an experimental, collaborative approach—a journey in which you’re not sure where it may end. As Picasso once said, “I don’t seek, I find.”

Describe the project you are working on now: A Parisian flower shop next to the future Pinault Foundation. It’s a very raw, textural space inspired by Mannerist grottos. I’m also working on private apartments in Milan and Paris that I can best describe as “nostalgic radical”—my current mood!

Paris apartment by Sophie Dries. Photography by Stephan Julliard.
Partnership
Monolith, a vehicle shift knob by Sophie Dries, Concrete Cat, and Garagisme. Photography by Gilles Uzan.

A new or forthcoming project we should know about: I will be showing new designs at Nilufar Gallery during Salone del Mobile in Milan. Stay tuned!

What you absolutely must have in your studio: Inspiring artwork by my good friends, a cup of tea, and podcasts.

What you do when you’re not working: I try to attend many (too many!) contemporary art exhibitions. I also visit sculpture parks and classical buildings across Europe. You can’t create contemporary work if you don’t know history!

Sources of creative envy: The mystical fountains at Tivoli’s Villa d’Este or Boboli Gardens in Tuscany. The Lumières era of 18th-century France and radical French architects like Claude Nicolas Ledoux, Étienne-Louis Boullée, and Jean-Jacques Lequeu. The primitive forms used by Sub-Saharan African craftspeople to build habitats from mud, clay, and straw. The artistic genius of Marcel Duchamp and Björk. The strength and passion of Gertrude Stein, Josephine Baker, and Frida Kahlo. The chic of Nancy Cunard and Diana Vreeland.

Paris apartment by Sophie Dries. Photography by Stephan Julliard.
Partnership
Sophie Dries.

The distraction you want to eliminate: Like most millennials, I want to spend less time behind the screen and more time drawing, reading, handcrafting, and exploring nature.

Concrete or marble? I prefer marble, but also love concrete—they’re both natural. I always advise my clients to choose concrete if they can’t afford marble. I usually ask them: “Would you wear a fake leather jacket? Then don’t put fake marble in your house!”

High-rise or townhouse? Townhouse because of my Parisian upbringing. But it depends on where you live! You have to understand spirit of place, or genius loci in Latin. I’ll take a high-rise in Hong Kong but an old decrepit palazzo in Rome.

Remember or forget? Remember. Memory and precedent are important for us move forward.

Aliens or ghosts? Ghosts.

Dark or light? Light: I can’t work in a dark environment! Although I’m more creative at night and wear almost all black and like blurry lines. In a metaphorical sense, I’d say dark.

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