Interview with Soren Rose
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small town two hours from Copenhagen called Svendborg, it has 48000 inhabitants and 55 pubs
Why and when did you move to New York?
I started coming to New York in 2004 when I founded a photography project, called Trunk Archive, we wanted to represent the best photographers in the world and it turned out that the majority lived in New York. In 2008 I founded my Design studio Soren Rose Studio with focus on product development and interior architecture. In 2009 we started working on a big project in NYC, which in 2011 made me move to the city. Currently I’m working on a new venture with BIG Architects called Klein, which means small in German, we are trying to democratize the real estate market by introducing some amazing Tiny Houses.
What initially inspired you to pursue a career in design?
I’ve always been fascinated by product design, I’m a hardcore materialist, always been a collector, I’m kind of obsessed, always hunting the best in art, accessories, fashion etc. if it doesn’t exist it’s the perfect opportunity to design it myself.
Does your city and surroundings influence you as a creative and individual?
New York is like a time machine, each zone is like an entire city, SOHO is London, Williamsburg is Copenhagen, China Town is Shanghai - so in a few minutes you can go to one of these stereo type places, I had lunch the other day at Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg and a guy was wearing a wetsuit. I love the diversity that the city provides. You can never get it all - so you have to suck every crazy moment up.
What do you struggle with the most in terms of working and living in a city like New York?
I love the buzz of The Big Apple, everybody is extremely busy when in town, events, jobs, meetings, parties, so once in a while you need a break. I remember when I first moved here, I told a friend after 6 months that I was agitated and in a bad mood - he asked if I had been out of town lately, which I of course had not. So now I make sure to get out at least once a month. We have a second studio in the Catskills where we go when we need to make prototypes in the workshop or come up with the next brilliant product.
The responsibility of the council in every city is to provide a solid foundation of design, art and cultural facilities, is that evident in New York?
The design scene is blooming in New York; especially good craftsmanship is in focus. I love that in Manhattan you have the galleries and design stores, and in Brooklyn you have the studios and workshops - you can kind of go backstage and take a peak on the process of art and design. I also love that in New York, the term studio visit is an accepted request by most artists and designers, so with only that excuse you can go visit likeminded and get rebooted.
Do you think it is also the responsibility of the designer/creative to improve the quality of peoples lives in their city?
Most definitely, our projects and clients are in the city, so when working on interior architecture project or product development it’s always about seeing something that no-one has seen before, finding out how to improve something - to add that magical ingredient that will make it stand out. If you are not making anything better in the design process maybe you shouldn’t do it.
Can you tell us about any current or future projects that you are particular excited about?
I’ve been working with my good friend and fellow Dane Bjarke Ingels on a tiny house concept. It is truly exiting. We believe that more people will focus on obtaining the quality of life the countryside provides and with the autonomous car around the corner it will be even easier to escape and to live outside cities. Spend the communiting hours working! Our concept blends in with the trend of communities popping up in remote locations that we already see. See? I’m a great advocate for city lifeJ
What is the one thing you can’t live without in New York?
I love food and I love to try out new restaurants. I believe you get some of the best food experiences in NYC. I try to go out as much as possible during the week for breakfast, lunch or dinner - doesn’t matter - I collect my bookmarks and share them with my friends, it’s like collecting stamps.
If you could add or change something about New York, what would that be?
The traffic situation. It is extremely sad to witness how the situation is getting worse almost by the month. Since I’m always getting around NYC on bike, the traffic doesn’t affect my commute so much but people are beginning to list the traffic as a reason to move away from the city. I didn’t hear that as often five years ago. What’s really sad is that politicians are not willing to solve it, though there are so many well tested means to control traffic load: double toll to enter Manhattan, only allow taxies & other transportation in certain time slots. Only allow electrical cars on certain avenues and streets, improve conditions for bicycle etc. etc. there are an ocean of possibilities if someone would just dare to stick their nose out!
Describe the perfect day for you in New York.
How much detail do you want :) So I’ll usually start with either a run over Brooklyn Bridge and return on Manhattan Bridge or if the weather is warm I’ll go on a bike ride up to Central Park, then I’ll usually have my first meeting at Le Coucou in SOHO. Then I’ll jump on my bike and go to our studio in Dumbo or go to Soho House to work in case I have more meetings in Manhattan. Sundown drinks, dinner plans and cultural activities are often improvised.
If you could choose any artist/creative from New York to collaborate with, who would that be and why?
I feel we get to collaborate with whom we want; I love folks like the lightning designer Lindsey Adelman and Tyler Hays from BDDW and many other artists from New York - and we often incorporate their designs into our interior architecture projects.
Sometimes people relate a specific smell to the city they live in or the place they grew up, does New York evoke a personal smell to you?
For me it begins in the airport from the minute I'm out on the tarmac, that special smell of a new place always gets to me. It activate mind-anchors and I start thinking about specific things I have to do or eat, smell is powerful.
What is your favourite time of the day?
My morning ritual is sacred; I’m always completely offline the first 2-3 hours of the day. I wake up, do yoga, go for a run or bike ride, prepare my coffee (this is the most sacred within the sacredness): The process of grinding and dripping needs to be done with 100% accuracy. After drinking that sacred drink, I’m ready to turn on my phone and computer.
If you weren’t living in New York and could choose any city to live in where would that be, and why?
I would live in LA or Miami. I grew up in the cold north of Scandinavia, so I feel I’ve had my fair share of rainy and cold weather. New York can also be a cold bitch in the wintertime when the wind penetrates whichever garment your desperately try to hide your bones in. I would love to try to live in a place where surfing and swimming was incorporated into my morning routine. I think I could easily live until 100 if I lived there.
new york by soren rose
A selection of places in New York - recommended by Designer Soren Rose. See all of Soren's favourite places here