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Junior Meets: Oeuf NYC founder, Sophie Demenge

Chic furniture, kooky clothes and unusual furnishings, NYC-based Oeuf have hatched a nestful of brilliant ideas. We caught up with the company's co-founder Sophie Demenge

Posted: 13 July 2012
by Helen McKay-Ferguson

Sophie Demenge with her daughter Mae
Perch bunk-bed from Oeuf
Pigeon toy from Oeuf
Monster sweater
A big black moustache for dressing-up fun

How did you come up with the idea for Oeuf NYC?
Both my husband Michael Ryan and I are designers. Our previous business was designing furniture and ceramics in our Brooklyn workshop. When we found out we were going to be parents in 2001 we realized there was absolutely nothing on the market that we liked so we started making everything for our daughter’s room (they're parents to Mae, now ten, and Marius seven). It was so fun and exciting to prepare her little nest exactly how we imagined it. She had so many different cribs to try! People saw what we made, we had a lot of press and before we knew it we started Oeuf in addition to the other business. Very soon it became too much. Oeuf was considerably more exciting so we decided to just do Oeuf.

And how did you hit upon the name?
Back then the name seemed obvious to me being pregnant and all. Also an egg is very delicate and fragile and yet very strong at the same time. Like all of us.

How do you think your childhood has influenced what you do today?
I grew up in Paris. When I grew up it was always about quality and not quantity. Paris is so incredibly beautiful. It seems that every detail is thought out. The displays are elegant whether in a bakery or flower shop as if there is innate sense of style and a natural pride in whatever it is you are doing.

How did you get into design?
I have always made things. When I moved to New York I went to the Pratt Institute and studied industrial design.

Why do you think you and Michael work so well together as a team? 

We work so well because we are so different, we really complement each other. We laugh a lot, I think that’s the secret! And I have to say he is the most easy-going guy so most of the credit goes to him.

Which other designers do you admire?
I admire George Nelson, love Jasper Morrison’s lines, Pierre Chareau really inspires me and of course Ray and Charles Eames. I also really like Lindsay Adelman’s lights.

Sum up Oeuf in three words...
Quality, good and eco-friendly.

If you could take three Oeuf products to a desert island, what would they be and why?
A bunkbed to make into a fort, Pablo the pigeon to send messages and a pirate eyepatch for the look.

What’s your family home like?
We live in a house in a neighborhood called Park Slope in beloved Brooklyn. My family life if not that different from my work life, a happy mess! Thankfully I work with highly skilled and organised people. We are quite a joyful family and very happy to have all found each other.

What are your favourite design objects?
I have a black leather Eames lounge chair and ottoman. It’s the one we had growing up. I brought it from Paris and removed all the old, dried blobs of gum from the Seventies from under the armrest. My sister and I would take turn twirling in it. Now my kids are taking over. It’s still in good shape!

What are your children's favourite things to play with?
Definitely a sword for my son, Lego is up there too and balls - baseball, basketball, soccerball... My daughter likes to build things from scraps she finds here and there.

And can you tell us about some of their favourite books? 
They are both into mythology right now so we are deep into Percy Jackson. Roald Dahl is the all time favourite.

And finally, can you tell something quirky about yourself that not many people know…?
I am a morning person. I like to be the first one up, to go downstairs put some music on and dance around the kitchen by myself. It’s a good way to start the day for me. Usually my son wakes up next and joins me and we dance cheek to cheek. Sometimes we move the kitchen stools apart to mix the dancing with leapfrog and Michael does his robot dance and Mae looks with horror (yes pre-teen!). It’s quite a scene!

For your chance to win a fabulous Sparrow crib by Oeuf or a Wild Things crown, be sure to enter our briliant competition.

Don't miss... The Junior Meets hub of exclusive interviews, inside scoop interviews and quirky Q&As, with exciting interviewees including: Tommy HilfigerSir Paul SmithStella McCartney and lots of other influential fashion designers, authors and illustrators including Quentin Blake and Jeff Kinney, great business minds including Lord Alan Sugar and, everyone's favourite fashionable frog, Kermit.

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