William Sofield: “Design is always enshrouded in collective thinking” lifestyle
He has redefined the concept of modernism by combining age-old elements with a more contemporary style, and his refined and timeless artistic vision is known around the world. Through his firm Studio Sofield, this American architect has designed more than 800 luxury shops for legendary brands such as Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Tom Ford.
His design is easily recognisable for its rigour and depth. William Sofield (New Jersey, 1961) dazzles in commercial spaces, hotels and large houses, uniting intellectual and humanistic dimensions into one. The leitmotif of his work.
For Sofield, who in 2019 received the Honour Prize for his artistic career at the 12th Porcelanosa Awards for Architecture and Interior Design, each space narrates the history of places and the people who live there. The key is to connect the present to the future, using the past — a language adopted by brands like Gucci, Coach, Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren and Yves Saint Laurent through his designs.
Sofield shies away from trends and defends the authenticity of his style through demanding imagination. He incorporates these facets into every aspect of his life, which is nothing more than his work.
Q: After your long career, how do you take on each new challenge?
A: Everything draws from my rigorous studies at Princeton, where I was taught that history allows you to explore the depths of your imagination and the present and future in all their dimensions. Although my true progress begins after finishing my studies. That is the moment when I dedicate all my energy to discovering in depth how quality of life is created. I always tell students not to aspire only for recognition; what’s most important is trying to do exemplary work, regardless of its scale.
Q: How does one move between creativity and functionality?
A: I design objects and environments that are functional yet have a significant artisanal and aesthetic component, without overlooking the financial relationship with quality. That is the main focus. Creativity and imagination are the basis of good work, together with the specifics of the situation.
Q: Where does innovation come into your work?
A: I am a behaviourist. I need to analyse and understand how people move, how they interact and why they choose what they choose. Are they concerned with well-being or a sense of connection with the world? The evolution of each design begins with taking an honest look at the problems and their solutions. Style comes later. For me, design is never an abstract concept; it is always enshrouded in collective thought, teamwork. Any indication of ingenuity is always the desire to inspire each member of a team. By working together, a team is able to overcome the predetermined limits of creativity.
Q: What captures your interest and provides inspiration?
A: I strive firmly to remain unaware of what other designers and architects are doing. It’s strange, I know, but I prefer to look in depth at people, cities or nature. When I am fully concentrated on these moments of observation, I can see or glimpse the future.
Q: What is your vision for the future then?
A: My vision for the future is to continue with a classical approach to all the projects I work on. I define my work as timeless; although I always look for some elements to create a surprising, or even mysterious, effect.
Read it also in Porcelanosa Print nº 34