Interview by Hyung Mo Jung. October 2015

Sophie Hicks, the architect of Acne Studios flagship store in Korea.

“The Architecture that dream of is one that has the interaction between building and people.”

Instead of going to college, she decided to become a guest editor of a fashion magazine. During her career as an editor, she often traveled a lot, especially to third world. She participated in the film production of a famous film director and also worked as a fashion stylist. Absorbing information and experiences that she was interested like a sponge for 10 years, she finally realized what she really wanted to do for her career.
At the age of 26, she entered Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. With her brilliant ideas she often got design works for major exhibitions and also many of global brands wanted her to design their stores. It is difficult to be the best in one filed but for her it seems there is no obstacle in the way she goes. Here, we are talking about the British architect Sophie Hicks. We got the chance to meet this all-rounder Sophie who visited Korea for the grand opening of Acne Studios flagship store in Seoul.



Q. You started as a guest editor at Harper’s & Queen at the age of 17 and became an editor of British Vogue. Were you always interested in fashion?
A. 70’s disco fever that came from the film ‘Saturday night fever’ made me to find something dynamic. And I am thankful to the editor in chief who gave a mission to find out interesting issue among teenagers.

Q. You chose to get into the real world instead of going to college.
A. It was not the era that everyone goes to college and going to the college was the essential thing in order to get a fine job. How could 17 years old girl possibly plan for her future? I just wanted to learn things by experience. I believe that I learnt lot more than I could possibly learn from school.

Q. Do you give the same advice to your daughters?
A. No. My daughter is also working in the fashion field (British top Model Edie Campbell) and I told her to go college before start real career.(Ha ha)

Q. What did make you to change your mind?
A. I still think that it is good to deal with the real world. However in this world there are always certain criteria that we need to adjust. And from college we learn things that make us improving and help us to connect to the world. My daughter had some work experiences related to advertising and branding while studying at college. She was too busy back then so she even studied in a flight. At that time I told her that if she wants to have good results she better ask to someone busy, because busy people always have their own know how.

Q. I have heard that you traveled a lot, especially to third world. Why is that?
A. I was interested in different cultures and in different type of people, especially the native tribe in Papua New Guinea. I learn wisdom thoughts from the people who have different culture or who is older than me. Every culture has its own characteristic. I was fascinated by the differences of each culture while I was designing the store for Paul Smith, Yohji Yamamoto, and Chloe.

Q. How did you end up with taking a role in the film(Intervista.1986) directed by Federico Fellni?
A. It was a tiny role. I was interested in film production back and I got a chance to meet Mr. Fellini through my friend who was acquainted with him. I asked if I could participate in the production but he rejected and he gave me a role instead. The shooting was taken place at Cinecitta studio in Rome and at that moment Bertolucci was filming ‘The last emperor’ in the same studio. The filming set of Chinese imperial house that was full with red and gold colors was fantastic. It was such a good experience.


The exhibition ‘Sensation’ that was held at the Royal academy of arts in 1997 has a significant meaning in the history of contemporary art. Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin, Sarah Lucas started to be renowned after the exhibition. The birth of ‘yBa(young British artist)’. And Sophie Hicks was the one who designed this exhibition.

Q. How did you get involved with the exhibition?
A. A friend of my friend was acquainted with Charles Saatchi (the sponsor of the exhibition) and one day called me and asked how I would design the exhibition. I explained casually that I would put the shark piece (‘The Physical Impossibilities of Death in the Mind of Someone Living’ of Damien Hirst) in the evident spot and keep the rest minimal, etc….’

Q. You suggest an idea and it was convincing.
A. It was the same when I got to work with Paul Smith and Yohji Yamamoto. They always ask casually not officially. It was also in the same way when I designed for the exhibition ‘Pop Art’ at the Royal Academy of Arts.

Q. How was it back then?
A. It was not long after my graduation. A friend of mine who was the planner of the exhibition asked my opinion and I said that I would paint all in white. It was an exhibition of Pop Art held in a classical Victorian edifice and all the others tried to add things. I was more focus on the essential thing. I did not try to create certain style, I just tried to highlight on the Pop Art exhibition itself. They believed in my decision and the exhibition ended successfully.

Q. Why did you start studying architecture?
A. I did not know what to do when I was 17 but I started to feel at the age of 26 (after having many experiences). I wanted to do something creative. In my childhood I liked to create something with scissors and glue. I was interested in architect when I was 13 and I was interested in mathematics in my high school years.

Q. Have you ever think of making clothes?
A. I am not good at design, neither making clothes. There are many others who know better on making clothes. I was more interested in how to change people’s perception by wearing different outfit. Namely how to express myself with clothes. It is same for architecture. For me the relation between people and buildings is the most important thing. It is not just about the appearance, it is more about the feeling of the people who actually live and work in the building.

Q. What is the attitude of an architect?
A. I try to listen and understand what clients say. I need to find out what they exactly want. Sometimes they do not even know what they want. So it is important to pull out what they really like.

Q. Did you recognize Damien Hirst to be this big?
A. Yes of course, I even bought one of his paintings. However, I sold it again… Let’s just drop this subject.


Swedish fashion brand Acne studios open its first flagship store in Cheong dam Seoul on 19th of September. Actual plan was to remodel the 2 story house, but they decided to demolish the house and rebuild. So they requested to Sophie for the planning

Q. How did you come up with the concept?
A. I have never been to Sweden before I got this project. So I visited Sweden to study about the city, music, culture. And I also tried to understand the founder’s philosophy and analyze by watching how they work.

Q. What is the most important thing that you kept in your mind?
A. I want people to feel the Swedish air and light. When I first visited to Sweden, I was amazed by the pure air and the sunlight. And I wanted to bring this refresh air in a rectangular building. I want people to feel Sweden here.

Q. In which way did you try to express?
A. Swedish people love the life in suburb. They go to a small island where there is a forest during the summer vacation. I wanted have log cottage atmosphere in the building so I imprint rough timber on the concrete column. And the collection is shown against softly reflective metal walls. It looks like an elegant light box viewed from the outside.

Q. The air conditioning equipment is unique. It is totally different than how we do in Korea. We usually put the system on the ceiling.
A. I made holes on the right and the left side of the walls to circulate the air. I designed them to be looked like ears.

Q. The lighting is unique as well.
A. The lighting is the most important thing in a fashion store. But instead of using spotlight, we chose polycarbonate light to have daylight during the day and indirect light at night. The store looks even more splendid at night.



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