Have you ever met someone with so much energy and creativity that every interaction is like an immersive experience? That was Sofia for me. I felt like every chat was a a burst of laughs, power and inspiration. Interactions were like a punch of creativity. She has such energy about her work. Her creativity and perspective on design has a way of shifting your view of the world around you. Her talent is obvious in her work, but learning more about her gave me a visceral and vulnerable connection to her work.
Sofia Hagen, Designer
Sofia is the Design Partner at Design Haus Liberty. She’s designed and completed numerous international projects for us in the UK and China from tech offices to hospitality, and high-end residential schemes. Most recently was a 1.5 million square foot commercial fit-out in Guangzhou. A confident, enthusiastic and creative professional, Sofia has honed her craft for the past 10 years developing commercial, cultural and residential projects in the Middle East and China as an architectural designer at Zaha Hadid Architects, Acme Space and Make.
She graduated with a Master of Architecture degree from Zaha Hadid’s architectural design studio at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. While doing an extra interior design degree in Paris, she worked at Odile Decq Architects Paris on architecture, interior design, exhibition development and graphic design. She has lectured at the Chelsea College of Art and Design, and exhibited at the International Architecture Biennale in Rotterdam, the MAK Vienna, the Arch Moscow and the Venice Biennale.
Where’s your favorite place in the world and why?
Just like when it comes to a favorite color, I don’t really have one – I have a variety depending on context and feel. So I would say Hong Kong for speeding up, Oaxaca (Mexico) for slowing down, Montreal for the best of both worlds (French charm + American friendliness), Italy for the light, London for life, and Luang Prabang (Laos) for after life. (energy)
What are you passionate about?
New projects. No matter what size or brief, every project excites me in the same way, as they all have their unique features and challenges to sink ones teeth into. And then seeing them being realized and how people react to them is just the biggest satisfaction of all times.
What’s the last thing you watched on TV? How was it?
The News. And that was mostly bad… 😉
What’s the craziest or funniest thing you’ve ever done?
I always make very spontaneous life changing decisions. God knows where they come from. Like to suddenly give up my settled life in Vienna and move to London, or a half year long trip through Asia on no notice or planning whatsoever, and most recently my next level January Sales impulse shopping where I suddenly bought a flat in Hackney.
What is the coolest thing you’re working on right now?
An interactive light installation for the Business of Design Week in Hong Kong, a maze of rainbow lanterns based on sustainability and air pollution research. Highly educational and stunning at the same time.
Who would you swap places with for a day?
My partner. To see if creating immersive experiential environments of jellies and funfairs is really that much fun.
If you could visit anywhere in the world you’ve never been, where would you go and why?
I always wanted to see Africa, first by ship around it and then by land. The desert in particular, for one week of solitude and silence in sand dunes. This would give me extreme experience of both elements – first on water only seeing the land afar, then swap them around.
What are some of your pet peeves?
I probably talk too much. I’m also quite impatient and a tad hyperactive.
If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
Red. However I just did a color analysis test related to personality and apparently my color is a warm yellow. So I could compromise and go for orange.
What’s your favorite way to get inspired?
It happens when I least expect it, and don’t actually think about inspiration but something just suddenly really triggers my interest and an epiphany is born. Never force inspiration, let it come to you!
Tell me about your morning routine.
Very quick. Get up, shower etc, walk to work (I always walk no matter what weather or distance!), then breakfast with emails at work. Without the walk I wouldn’t be human.
What’s the best purchase you made this year under $100?
The paint colors to my new flat and the mini Chanel handbags for my friends’ toddler daughters
What makes you laugh the hardest?
What is your favorite family tradition?
Eating together. It doesn’t even have to be Christmas, just the simple pleasure of family dinners to me is a tradition I cherish the most.
What’s something you wish people would ask you more?
Depends who’s asking.
A question from developers/public personas of influence:
“Would you like to design this multi-functional immersive culture hub with concert hall galleries and retail experience on limitless budget and no planning restrictions?”
However if more private:
“Shall I get you those shoes?”
What’s your favorite quote?
“Don’t take no for an answer” by Zaha Hadid.
Interview conducted by Anna Sirmeyer.