Oeuf NYC has – hands down – always been a favourite brand of ours. Founded in 2003 by husband-and-wife team, Sophie Demenge and Michael Ryan, a decade and a half later this pioneering cool kids brand is still setting trends in the world of children’s clothing and accessories, playful home textiles, and chic furnishings. The brand’s tagline ‘Be good’ goes right to the start and to the heart of every single Oeuf item, including some 400 Bolivian women who expertly take care of bringing Sophie’s knitted designs to life.
Born and raised in Paris, Sophie lives in Brooklyn, NY, with husband Michael and her two teenage children (Mae, 17, and Marius, 14) We chat to Sophie about life in New York, raising teenagers and broccoli-shaped pillows and quickly came to the conclusion that Demenge is one of the coolest beings and we all want to be her friend!
TELL US ABOUT OEUF. HOW DID IT ALL COME ABOUT?
As furniture designers expecting our first child we set out to create a crib unlike anything we had seen before. It was a very exciting and intimate project for us. Our intention was to create a warm and cozy, minimal nest for our baby. The choices were very few, traditional in style and often poor in quality. We didn’t want a crib that created a disconnect between the nursery and the rest of the home.
WHAT IS THE STORY BEHIND THE BRAND’S NAME?
The word Oeuf (which means egg in French) came very naturally. I love the word “Oeuf”. Visually, I love those letters together and the sound of that simple word. It epitomises strength and vulnerability, fragility. Which are both sides of the same coin. I try to engage each day with the motto: open heart, open mind. And I do remind myself throughout the day…
HOW DO YOU TAKE YOUR COFFEE?
With a little milk, no sugar.
YOU’VE LIVED IN NEW YORK FOR A WHILE NOW, WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT LIVING THERE?
We are in a neighbourhood that feels more like a village. The kids walk to school, we walk to the office. It’s very human scale. I don’t think that’s what comes to mind when one thinks of raising kids in NYC. Where we are it’s mostly houses, a big park, a great stoop life in the summer. The food co-op is a few blocks away. It reminds me of my youth growing up in the 6th arrondissement in Paris.
WHAT ARE YOUR MAIN SOURCES OF INSPO WHEN DESIGNING A NEW PRODUCT?
I’m actually inspired mostly by everyday life. What I see around me in Brooklyn, whether it’s at the food co-op or a visit to the museum or the park, or just my daily walk to the office. We’ve done some great items such as handmade baby alpaca stuffed broccoli-shaped pillows, or a knit brownstone building. Oeuf is really successful in showing people the charm and humour in the everyday. In terms of furniture we typically make what we can’t find or like. The bunkbed was made for our son Marius, the desk for Mae.
FAVOURITE OEUF PIECE?
I don’t have a favourite piece. Each of them have a story for me that is linked to my kids. Oeuf is a very personal project with little separation with my personal life.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR FAMILY…
We are a goofy bunch. Our common language is humour. My daughter just turned 17. She’s spending the spring semester of her junior year on the Maine coast at a school whose focus is on the community, and ecology and sustainability. Besides school work, the students have responsibilities in the kitchen and chores at the school’s own working farm. She’s most excited about doing a “solo” in April where she will spend 2 nights and 3 days alone in nature with only a tarp for shelter and an adequate amount of provisions…yikes. My son is 14. He is the social butterfly and loves sports. He will be doing his first babysitting gig next week. He is super excited about that and making his own money.
HOW DID YOU JUGGLE MOTHERHOOD AND BEING A CREATIVE/BUSINESS OWNER WHEN YOUR KIDS WERE YOUNG?
Balance is elusive. Realising that and being more or less at peace with that was already a big accomplishment for me. Mom guilt is never helpful so the sooner you let go of it the better.
Our home, the kids’ school and the office are all within walking distance from each other. That helps a lot. No time is wasted on commute and crazy organisation..
Our communication is very fluid and we make sure to spend some one-on-one time with the kids to really catch up and share experiences. They are very open and candid about what they need and want and think and feel. I try to spend some time alone everyday to just be.
AND HOW HAS THAT CHANGED NOW THAT THEY’RE IN THEIR TEENS?
Different not easier nor harder. It’s the same general lifelong parenting instinct and responsibility to protect, support, guide and love your kids. But over the years it does evolve. It takes different shapes. It’s harder to protect your child physically as they are more and more in the world spreading their wings. By then you hope you’ve instilled enough good sense to allow them to make responsible decisions – most of the time.
Ideally, parents grow with their kids and their kids needs. It’s always changing. As soon as you start to relax into known territory you’re stretched to the edge of the unknown. I find myself doing a lot more active listening than talking these days.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU – BUSINESS OR PERSONAL – HEADING INTO SUMMER?
We just bought a little building close to our home where we will be moving Oeuf hopefully by the end of the year. I am and will be spending quite a bit of time with the architects and contractors. We are trying to make the space into a passive house which is a big learning curve for us in term of what technology and material to use. I’m learning about grey water, solar panel, 3 panes glasses windows, etc.
Other than that we will be spending some time in Brittany and in upstate NY where we have a little lake cabin in the wood.
GO TO: oeufnyc.com
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