Monday, August 1st, 2005

On Oeuf and Design

Sophie Demenge, Oeuf

Posted by Sophie Demenge, Oeuf | View all posts by Sophie Demenge, Oeuf
Leave a comment! | Published in Baby Blogapalooza 2005, Designer Interviews, General, Interviews, What's New

Sophie Demenge and her husband Michael are founders of and R&D designers for Oeuf(tm). Like the contours of its namesake, Oeuf (which means “egg” in French, pronounced like the “uff” in stuff) is about simple, clean design applied to the necessities of a well-equipped nursery. Oeuf believes strongly that while babies don’t need many items, they do need some essential pieces. Their mission is to make those essentials practical and stylish, without compromising quality and safety.

I have always wanted to be an industrial designer, without knowing it. I knew one could be an artist or an architect, but was not aware of anything in between. I heard the term “industrial design” for the first time in San Francisco when I was about twenty-three. I was intrigued by it, took a class at the city college, and loved it. So I researched and applied to design schools, and off I went to New York.

Halfway through my education at Pratt Institute, I met a nice boy, a self taught designer, who is now my husband and father of Mae and Marius. We blindly and enthusiastically decided to start a business together right after I graduated. Here we are, four wonderful, frustrating, joyful, painful years later, miraculously still in business, still quite optimistic, and feeling very lucky we do what we do.

I see design as a vehicle to express myself. I tend to favor the intimate and playful. My inspiration comes from everywhere and nowhere, whether it is walking down the street, finding an interesting piece of hardware and imagining what should be around it, making furniture with my daughter from clementine peels, watching people in the subway, going to the Met, or soaking in the tub with a notebook nearby – just living, really. When inspiration happens, it fills me with enormous energy and joy, and feels like it is never going to stop. It brings this great rush, which reminds me why I love it so much and why I put up with all the business stuff. And with no resistance at all, I indulge once again in the adventure of the creative process. The biggest challenge is to bring this embryo of an idea to fruition and, for me, that is when “being an adult” kicks in.

Every project is different. The overall process is the same (excitement, frustration, doubt, technicalities, making the damn thing, letting it be for a while, back and forth, lots of coffee, and excitement again), but each design has a different way of revealing itself as a completed piece. I am continually surprised by the result. It is as though at the end if is not mine anymore but rather has become its own self – with a life, a personality of its own, independent of pure functionality. This is a good thing, as it enables a relationship.

The disadvantages of self-production and owning your own business are that you have to do it all, all the time: make decisions constantly, struggle with the price versus volume, etc. You must have an understanding of every single aspect of your business, and accept that designing takes around five percent of your time and running a business and keeping it alive takes the other ninety-five percent. The advantages are that it is all yours and, yes, you can go to Fire Island on a Tuesday. Self-production never allows you to become complacent; there is nowhere to hide.

See the Oeuf line of modern baby furniture here.

About Sophie Demenge, Oeuf

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