Photo credit: Leslie Kee for the campaign ” Power People” to inspire the Japanese population to rebuild after the Tsunami.
Who is Virginie Sommet?
I am a creative person, Chameleon, impatient and multitasker. Born in Normandy (France) in a very conservative, provincial, practicing catholic and preppy family. I love “Decontextualization” in everything, the learning process and the New York challenges. Certainly, a sensitive and spiritual person with a global mentality, engaged in supporting all minority groups to balance it out in our blind white supremacy. I love to go from one social box to another!
Why did you become an interior designer?
I became an interior designer for myself by necessity because I could not find anything that I liked so I had to create and construct it. I did two apartments and a loft in Paris. In New York, I also did two apartments, six lofts, the hallway of a “24 apartment’s building”, and one brownstone. I did more than 20 Brownstones for different clients. I have created furniture. I like round rooms, round windows and oval furniture.
Bookshelves design by Virginie Sommet.
You are also a dancer, have you abandoned that field completely?
I had my own Dance School in Montmartre (Paris) with 157 Students. I was renting the ”Petit Trianon” every year with 800 attendees and 20 Choreographies. I danced 22 Years and taught 10 years, I stopped because I needed some new challenges. When you dance so many years you never stop to be a dancer.
I understand that you are a mixed media artist, tell us what’s your preference between being an Interior Designer or an Artist?
I love both, they are part of the same process: creation.
They are interconnected and need each other.
They are both aesthetically part of the house.
My Installations are Pop, sociological and political.
My Interior Design work is minimal, futuristic with a twist of Barbarella.
Bookshelves design by Virginie Sommet.
Metal table and chairs designed by Virginie Sommet.
Can you tell us more about your background?
As a little girl, I was familiar with construction, I always saw my mother repairing or building stone walls, sewing curtains, covering Louis XIV chairs, repairing antique furniture, my father doing insulation in the attic, painting, going to the antique stores. They often restored several churches on Sunday and we had to be there to help. My father always gave us huge “out-building” for my sister and I to transform the way we wanted to have a play- room. It was exciting, we were working long hours to make it look good to invite our friends over. We were doing this from about age 8 until our late teens.
I can say that I was a life intern with my parents who were dedicated to Interiors and accuracy of Design. Anything inauthentic had to go straight to the fireplace!
I have a MFA in Art Studies which is a precious mix with the above!
Installation “Dream Catcher” by Virginie Sommet
Exclamation Point Kitchen Cabinet designed by Virginie Sommet.
You have designed award pieces for the best of this world. From Mandela to Anderson Cooper, to name only these men, what was your thought process during these creative phases?
Yes it was a big honor to be able to do these awards for President Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Susan Sarandon, Terry Georges and Anderson Cooper.
It was for the Action Against Hunger Gala, the theme was hunger.
I decided to decontextualize the spoon and transform it into a material itself, then embedded it in resin.
Describe your creative process.
I always like to wander where I am not supposed to be, to discover, to be surprised, to learn and to fight the prejudices. I often encounter interesting objects, I discover different cultures and creative ideas often pop. Then I do extensive research on line on the idea to develop it.
You have a piece named ” She Male” that I am in awe with, tell me more about it.
The Village Voice used to be very useful before internet in New York, you could get roommates, apartments, jobs and escorts! The last two pages were filled with “She Male” adds and I could hear many heterosexual men saying that they were women? Then I got the idea to do a piece about “She male” to diffuse the information that they were Male with a penis and breasts. The numbers of She males keep growing until today. I decided to cut out a lot of the black and white pictures of the “She Male” and create a newspaper underwear on a male mannequin.
How do you get unstuck creatively?
I have been lucky so far, it never happened to me.
What are you working on now?
I am writing a talk about Ectogenesis in collaboration with a philosopher.
I am creating my meditation series.
I am designing exterior, interior and garden of 2 brownstones and 6 apartments buildings.
How do you stay organized when you are provided with multiple design assets, files and ideas?
I think I was born with a busy schedule. My sister and myself had 14 hours each of extracurricular activities every week. It was a true marathon. Our parents and grandparents were extremely organized, so no merit here.
Tell me about a project you’ve completed that has made you the proudest?
Certainly, the award that I created for President Nelson Mandela. I called his secretary and she told me that my piece was on his desk. He represents the fight against racism for the planet, I could have never placed any collector above him. I am very honored.
Award for President Mandela.
What inspires you?
Unfairness, marketing, stupidity, 99c stores Knick knacks, stereotypes, cultural differences, subcultures, sexism, meditation, prejudice, racism, cruelty, ignorance, mass culture and imagining the future.
What’s your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is to not have enough time to experiment immortality in my body and my psyche, hoping that it will help humans to be more evolved than now. I would love to experience this!
Your advice to other inspiring artists.
Stick to what you really like to do. Be stubborn in it, do not listen to too many opinions and you will succeed.
My Book – En Francais and English: