As a co-owner and concept director in the U.S. for the Copenhagen-based design company Vipp, Sofie Christensen Egelund is the third generation in her family to run the business. Established in 1939 by her metalworker grandfather Holger Nielsen, the brand got its start with a trash can that Nielsen designed for his wife’s hair salon.
A humble beginning, yes, but today, that same trash can is in MoMA’s design collection and considered an emblem of striking design. Vipp has a strong global presence and is a favorite of architects, artists, and fashion designers. The company’s black stainless steel modular kitchen is its signature product, but Egelund and her brother Kasper, who is Vipp’s CEO, also oversee a furniture line, lighting, and home accessories.
In February, the brand will release a sustainable version of the 1939 trash can. Called Rubbish, it’s made from industrial plastic waste and leftover wood scraps. In another initiative, the duo will open a pop-up hotel in April and May at Palazzo Monti, an artist residency in the countryside outside of Milan. The property will have a style that’s an unexpected combination of Danish minimalism and Italian Baroque.
“I’m a believer in quality over quantity and design to create solutions to make day-to-day living more beautiful and functional,” Egelund says. “Our family loves the right thing versus more things.”
She believes that having time to live and connect with family and friends is the ultimate luxury in life and says, “When the world you’ve created for yourself functions well, you inevitably have more time.”
Egelund, who lives in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood with her husband, Frank Christensen Egelund, their two children, and a golden retriever, shared a few of her favorite things with Penta.
The No. 1 destination on my travel list for this year is… Japan. I have never been. There is a great synergy between Japanese and Danish aesthetic culture—the slowness and attention to detail, the commitment to what’s necessary. I have a sense that Japan will provide me with unending inspiration.
My ideal day in Copenhagen is… spent swimming in the Harbour Bath or Øresund during the summer, walking in the historic Christian’s Harbor along the canals with houseboats and cobblestoned streets—it is such a charming neighborhood. I like visiting artist studios and workshops—they are all over the city, and I will jump on my bike to go. My all-time favorite museum is the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art north of Copenhagen.
If I could have a meal at any restaurant in Copenhagen, it would be at… Hotel Sanders. They have an open fireplace and plenty of candles. It feels like a fancy but cozy living room, and the food is delicious. For coffee, Coffee Collective is the best in town. Juno Bakery has the best bread and cakes, and Møntergade is my favorite lunch place because of the classic open sandwich served at beautifully decorated tables with pressed linen table covers.
What I love most about Danish design is… its honesty. The goal is always longevity and quality, which is something we embody in our design.
The appliance I use most in my kitchen is… I will have to make this a “we” answer because Frank is a talented barista and has mastered his La Marzocco Linea Mini espresso machine, so it has become everyone’s favorite appliance!
The item I’m currently most lusting after is… nothing. When you are someone for whom ‘less is more is’ is a life principle, lusting after things is a rarity—except when you’re referring to a vintage chair that we must hunt for over many years—there are few objects that keep me up at night.
My design inspiration is… the world around me. I think design inspiration is found everywhere, you just have to look closely, but obviously, the easier way is to visit a museum/gallery, watch a movie, flip through a magazine or immerse yourself in the endless feed of Instagram to find an abundance of inspiration.
The outfit I wear every day is… a white T-shirt, my wedding band, and my huge glasses.
Most people don’t know that I… I enjoy floral design and make weekly trips to the flower market. When you live in the city, it’s essential to bring nature into the conversation.
I’m a collector of… ceramic objects. My husband teases me by saying the “C” in my middle name stands for “clay.” My most recent acquisition is a huge block of clay found in the Tohoku region of Japan. It weighs 25 pounds and has such a great atmosphere and coloring.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.