February 12, 2016

We visited Swedish jewellery designer, Sophie Wallgren at her North London studio to find out what goes on behind the scenes. Her hand crafted pieces, inspired by architectural design are functional, timeless and minimal. She discusses the quality and simplicity inherent in Scandinavian design, how her heritage influences the decisions she makes in the studio and making environmentally conscious decisions such as using recycled silver in her designs.

UO: Tell us a little about your story so far.

I moved to London about five years ago. Prior to that I spent a lot of time travelling and also lived in Barcelona, San Diego and Hong Kong. I started making bespoke pieces while training the craft, and then made my first collection for fashion week last year.

UO: How did you get started as a jewellery designer?

It all started with a course at Central St Martins; that’s where I fell in love with making jewellery. I saw a gap in the market for timeless, good quality products for a reasonable price.

UO: What inspires your designs?

I feel really inspired by architecture and furniture design, especially Scandinavian design classics. There are a lot of timeless pieces that I love as much today as I did when growing up.

UO: What do you love the most about your job?

I love the whole creative process. Making a collection from scratch is very special. I also love making pieces that carry sentimental value for people such as such as engagement rings and wedding rings.

UO: Do you think your Swedish heritage influences your attitude and approach to design?

A lot. My values and the way I grew up often influence the decisions I make while designing. I want my jewellery to be functional and I want people to be able to wear the pieces for any occasion. I’m obsessed with the quality and simplicity in the Swedish way of life and I try to mirror this in my designs.

UO: You hand make all of your jewellery in your London studio. Can you tell us a little about this process?

I get a lot of inspiration for my designs from architecture, so the process starts with some general research. I also feel very inspired by strong, empowering women and the feminist movement, so I based this collection around women who have changed the world. After this stage, I source the material. I try to use recycled silver only and to be very responsible when it comes to production and the environment. Then I make samples that I left people wear for a few days to get a feel for the pieces. I want them to be comfortable as well as aesthetically pleasing. This whole process takes place in my North London studio.

UO: What is your favourite piece from this collection?

I think my favourite piece is the Shirin bracelet. I wear it everyday; I have worn it to weddings, at work, and I always take it with me when I travel. It’s so simple and works with everything. The piece is named after Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian lawyer, human rights activist, and the first female judge in Iran.

UO: Describe your style in three words

I’m a jeans and T-shirt kind of girl! Even when I dress up I go for a very minimal look. I like to wear a lot of black too.

UO: What’s the best part of owning your own business?

I love the freedom of owning my own time. I never really know what my days are going to look like and I love that I meet a lot of new people. I work with a lot of different freelancers from all over the world and it’s very inspiring.

UO: What’s been the biggest challenge so far?

The biggest challenge has been to find the right balance between work and play. It’s difficult because my work is my hobby, so I’ve had to try to find a way to balance it out. It’s really exciting to grow as a business and start selling through shops such as Urban Outfitters. It’s been a challenge to increase my volume for sure, but it’s very exiting to be on this journey.