Interview: At home with Sophie Bille Brahe

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Sophie Bille Brahe has quietly but steadily built her eponymous, independent jewelry business from her home and headquarters in Copenhagen, since the company was founded in 2011. Early on, she attracted a loyal following for her earring ‘Crescent Moon’, a curved row of diamonds in its distinctive modern setting, often worn as a single earring. His name, which means “crescent moon”, relates to his ancestor, the astronomer Tycho Brahe; the night sky inspires much of his work. Italy, too, serves as a permanent creative inspiration: “Rome is very contrasting”, she tells us, of the city she has visited all her life, “a combination of something very classic, something beautiful , but at the same time completely opposite”. ‘ The city provided the canvas for the third edition of its self-published magazine, The Vita and Bella.

Bille Brahe’s power lies in her understated approach, which has helped completely disrupt the perception of fine jewelry: unlike jewelry once reserved for special occasions, her beautiful and interesting creations are meant to be enjoyed and worn every day. Thus, her jewelry responds to the varied tastes of a cohort of modern women, from romantics to pragmatists, minimalists and design purists.

Diamonds and pearls in graduated cuts and asymmetrical patterns have become his trademark. Its bridal collection was launched in the spring of 2022 and has become the reference for design enthusiasts looking for a wedding band that is as personal as it is timeless. Her recently launched A/W 2022 collection, titled “The Bow,” is an ode to the feminine motif, an unwavering yet delicate linear form.

Here, the jewelry designer tells us more about her work, her creative process and what makes her tick.

At home with Sophie Bille Brahe

Jewelry designer Sophie Bille Brahe. Photograph by Rasmus Weng Karlsen

Wallpaper*: Where are you right now? Describe what you can see

Sophie Bille Brahe: I’m sitting at my desk at home. It’s an old desk, once my dad gave me, designed by my dad’s oldest friend. It’s timeworn but very simple and has a special meaning to me. I always listen to a podcast, something I enjoy when working on my creations. Outside the window, there is a cherry tree about to bloom.

W*: Where do you live?

SBB: I live in a terraced house in Hellerup, north of Copenhagen. It’s right next to the sea and the forest, a quiet and peaceful area that fits well with our family life. If I have time, I love to start my day with a swim in the ocean, it’s rejuvenating and gets my endorphins going.

Bille Brahe’s son, Johan, wears a ‘Peggy’ necklace at the designer’s childhood home near Copenhagen. Photograph by Elizabeth Heltoft

W*: What’s the last thing you bought?

SBB: Classic two-tone Chanel pumps. They are timeless and match my personal style and wardrobe.

W*: What was the last phone call you made?

SBB: I last called my mother or Anne-Sofie, CEO of Sophie Bille Brahe. They are the most important people in my life.

W*: Where and when do you think you are most productive?

SBB: When I’m home, have a quiet moment to organize my thoughts. I always make sure there are clean surfaces and fresh flowers in my environment before starting a creative process. I usually start the day with a long walk with my dog, Snoopy, in the local forest. It clears my head and creates space for new ideas.

Floral arrangement by Bille Brahe in a vase by Danish florist and artist Tage Andersen, featuring flowers from a rose bush that Bille Brahe gave as a gift to her mother when she turned 50. Photographer Nikolaj Moller

W*: Favorite place, anywhere in the world? And why?

SBB: I always come back to Rome. The city is an eternal source of inspiration for me. I have been visiting Rome since I was young, my grandmother’s sister living in the city. Rome is like my second home, it’s a feeling of belonging. The city is very contrasting: a combination of something very classic, beautiful, and yet quite the opposite at the same time.

W*: If Wallpaper* came to dinner, what would you cook for us?

SBB: Spaghetti bowl. This is an Italian classic and my favorite Italian pasta dish. My brother, chef Frederik Bille Brahe, always cooks this dish whenever we celebrate a special moment.

Sophie Bille Brahe and her brother, chef Frederik Bille Brahe. She wears the ‘Sandro Grande’ earrings. Courtesy of Sophie Bille Brahe

W*: What is one thing (in your creative field) that you would have liked to design or invent?

SBB: A caliper. It’s a nice measuring device that takes advantage of a vernier scale, a scale used to provide very precise measurements. This tool is special because it’s a tool that you use to do something very, very precise. I think that says a lot about the way I work. For me, things have to be extremely precise. My eye can see it when something is wrong, even by a tenth of a millimeter.

Saturday evening festivities with friends at the family home of Bille Brahe. Photograph by Sophie Bille Brahe

W*: Who would play you in a movie of your life?

SBB: I love Alicia Vikander. I am a great admirer of her. If anyone were to play me in a movie, it would be her.

W*: Any regrets?

SBB: I don’t think I have any regrets. I believe in living life on your own terms, without compromise. I fear stagnation and being stuck in a rut. If I have the opportunity to do something, I will always choose to do it without thinking about whether I will regret it or not. I believe that taking action is always the best solution.

W*: In ten years, you will be…

SBB: Celebrating Sophie Bille Brahe’s 20th birthday surrounded by my family and loved ones. I love what I do and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Friends of the jewelry brand gather to celebrate its tenth anniversary (2021). Photograph by Nikolaj Moller

W*: What are you reading and what do you think?

SBB: With two children, I barely find time to read at the moment, but I love Seven Gothic Tales (1934) by Karen Blixen. It’s a modern classic from one of the finest and most notable artists of our time. I read it again and again. As a woman, I find her so inspiring. She lived without compromise; she lived her life the way she wanted to.

W*: Favorite indulgence and why? When was the last time you did this?

SBB: I like to indulge in diamonds. Diamonds are the most enchanting stone; they give me a magical feeling that I can’t explain and are always what motivated me as a jewelry designer. They last forever and have the most beautiful shades of light.

‘Fleur de Tennis’ necklace from the new A/W 2022 ‘The Bow’ collection. Photograph by Casper Sejersen

W*: What inspires you at the moment?

SBB: I am very drawn to classic elements with a modern twist. It is part of my designs, giving my jewelry a modern statement. To inspire myself, I always go back to places that excite me. I love Italy, it’s been a big part of my life.

W*: Do you have a lucky mascot and is there a story behind it?

SBB: My beloved dog, Snoopy. I used to take care of my brother’s dog, whose name was Skat, and when he had puppies, I got a puppy as a birthday present from my brother. It follows me wherever I go and brings me so much joy. He’s my lucky mascot. And he is my shadow.

Snoopy, photographed for the S/S 2022 collection campaign wearing the ‘Peggy’ necklace. Photograph by Casper Sejersen

W*: How do you turn off?

SBB: I take a long walk in the local forest with my dog, Snoopy. It renews my energy. When I have time, I like to go for a swim in the ocean before starting to work. It’s the best way to wake up the body and mind.

W*: My favorite subject to work with and why?

SBB: I like working gold. Gold is strong, beautiful and durable. There is something magical and meditative about the way heat moves through the material. It is something quite magnificent, there is nothing like it.

‘Escargot Ensemble’ and ‘Diamant de Royale’ rings. Photograph by Max Fargo

W*: Who is your dream collaborator?

SBB: I love Goyard. This [represents] high quality craftsmanship and [is] a luxury lighthouse. The universe is rigorous and yet always timeless. It has its own direction, without expectation.

W*: If you weren’t a jewelry designer, what would you have been?

SBB: I’ve always had a love for opera music. As a child, I dreamed of becoming an opera singer. I grew up listening to ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’ sung by Maria Callas; it was my grandfather’s favorite. I always liked the way she made the opera fragile, showing only the emotions. That’s what I try to do now with my jewelry: remove all superficial elements to return to sensations.

W*: What’s at the top of your to-do list?

SBB: I dream of renovating my kitchen or traveling to Pompeii. I haven’t been to Pompeii and would like to explore the ancient city. I sometimes feel very drawn to the past and I like to immerse myself in a place steeped in history, where each object tells a different story. They take on meaning and it becomes almost magical. §

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