Studio visit with Von Sono
Our recent studio visits included a trip to Von Sono in Hackney, London. Stephanie Oberg, owner of Von Sono, talked us through her latest collection, life with twins and her favourite shop!
To see the latest Von Sono collection at Couverture and the Garbstore please click HERE
Sono (Stephanie) Oberg, Hackney E8
Your favourite piece from Von Sono AW11 collection?
Definitely the knitted bomber jacket. We always somehow have a bomber jacket of some sort in all the collections. It has such a nice feel, super heavy hand knit.
Your inspiration for the collection?
The shock of the arrival of two babies, a new life and wanting to carry on so that was the real inspiration. We had two seasons where we didn’t produce a collection so somehow the darkness of this time translated itself into the collection.
We started off with a few twin references as a starting point, things you can wear together, but in the end that just became a fun and silly idea. So basically in the end we picked out a few of our favourite styles from past collections and re invented them, making them more perfect in winter fabrics. Lots of knitwear and warm and cosy pieces. In the end we called the collection ‘a sense of light that stayed’ because in the end it wasn’t that bad. It made me survive the year – the focus of producing the collection.
The best selling piece from the collection?
The red mohair jumper, it almost didn’t make it into production as we had such a nightmare with the construction of these pieces. But the knitter is very happy with them now. All the knitwear sold really well, loads and loads of it!
At what point did you realise you wanted to be a fashion designer?
I wanted to be a painter, I loved painting as a very little child but somehow this didn’t work out. Then as a teenager I thought fashion is really really cool. I remember a magazine called Miss Vogue, I think it is probably similar to teen vogue, it was really good for a few years. This is what I was reading when I wanted to be a fashion designer.
Then I went to Art College and tried out various disciplines and decided I wanted to become a carpenter. I was told by my tutor that I wouldn’t survive the year so I left that idea behind and thought I could become a photographer. I interned in a studio and had to clean and mop too many floors so I applied to do fashion at university. They told me my portfolio had no relevance to fashion and that I should consider fine art. But I was adamant it was fashion or nothing.
They took me on in the end and I struggled massively and thought fashion was rubbish & soon realised – shit this is going to be my life my profession! So I wanted to quit but my favourite tutor said don’t give up, finish this and you can do whatever you want. So I carried on and started selling blankets and bits and pieces. A Japanese company found me and this is how it all started… fate maybe?
Design by hand or on the computer, what is your favourite drawing tool?
Designs by hand, my favourite drawing tool is a mechanical pencil – the ticky sounding ones. But I keep losing them so most of the time I just end up with these regular pencils. I also use Muji rubbers a lot too, the eraser roll.
Can you define your design identity?
This is a difficult one, I need some water.
Von means ‘from’ in German. From Sono, from me. That’s how it all started. I used to make everything by hand. Everything was unique, every piece different from the next. Different fabric, hand print, or applique detail. All produced by me, everything.
That’s what I would still like to be doing now but it doesn’t work like this in the fashion industry. I still try to keep each season as close to this original concept as possible. I ask friends what they would really like to wear for the next season. I make it as personal as possible, as small and tight as possible. People don’t need ten thousand skirts and trousers. If we make a skirt we want it to be a forever skirt, perfect for the wearer.
Von Sono fans have all their pieces until they fall apart. They come back years on with these pieces that are falling apart at the seams and they want them again, they want them replaced. This is what it’s all about for me. I still try to keep so that the pieces are still from me, even with a bigger production I still want it to be this personal.
How has having the twins changed your working life and design approach?
Working life is completely different. I used to work 14 – 16 hours a day and now I work 3 days a week and always keep to an 8 hour day. I’m now super organised (I don’t know what I did before hand?). Working from a studio space rather than from home has also been very different. A light and bright studio space compared with the dark and cosy studio I had at home.
I do miss working from home, One day I want to have a big house so I can do this again. But this is just a dream… the twins are in my old studio now. Having them has put everything in perspective in my working life.
What do you love most about your studio space?
I love the light, it’s the perfect working light. It never changes.
Cut flowers or plants?
Pot plants, succulents I think you call them here. However if someone gives me flowers then great too! I buy most of my plants from Columbia rd. market. I used to buy them from Woolworths on Mare Street until that closed which made me sad. I have a big heart for sad looking plants. I bought a wisteria plant for 50p from there and it flowered for the first time this year, five years after buying it.
Night owl or early bird?
Night owl, mornings are not for me… not great with twins. One of them is up bright and early every day and the other is like a teenager and is so sleepy all morning. I would prefer two teenagers!
Favourite local shop/ café?
Little Georgia on Goldsmith’s row. It used to be on Broadway Market and this was one of the main reasons why I wanted to move to this area. They do really good cake. I really like sweet things.
My favourite shop was Woolworths but now I’d say Argun Stationary in Hackney Central. It’s chaotic but great. Many of my favourite shops have now gone. Hackney city farm is fun but all the unique places are gone. It’s all change around here.
Olive oil soap
Fizzy or still?
I prefer still drinks
Current bag in use?
This is what I’m running around with at the moment.
I would go to a tree house in the south of France. Not the best idea with twins but so cool.
Current music, book/magazine, film?
I’m listening to Atlas sound, Ave Tare & Panda Bear, The Notwist at the moment and for a holiday Beach House
No time for books and films, I managed to watch a film a friend gave me a year ago just recently, it’s the only film I’ve seen in a year!
Spring Summer 2012 sneak peek?
It will be really cool ha ha! Heavy cotton knitwear, nude beige colours mixed with fluo, hopefully an amazing print, a patchwork print. Hand crafted. Patterns are basic but classic and elegant.
Everything that basically takes forever, that’s what I like to do!
Pretty and fun, much more fun than winter, new bags and accessories, there is much more time. We’ve only just started.