A modern time capsule. That’s probably the most accurate description of the home Josephine Akvama Hoffmeyer welcomes us into. A home that exhibits both the host’s personality, passion and memories. With lunch in her hand and the earphones plug in and ready, she shows us around, before the phone rings again, and the designer effortlessly switches to fluent Italian. Hoffmeyer is the head of the design studio File Under Pop, which she founded back in 2015. Here she works with room and surface design using paint, wallpaper and tiles. When she steps in front of the camera, she back fullly focused, and the phonecalls will have to wait till after. Because even though the days are busy for Copenhagen’s queen of tiles, the art of living in the present is one she endeavours to master as well.
When we catch Hoffmeyer over the phone a week later, the time is different. The pace is slowed down, and everyday life is replaced with idyllic Anholt as backdrop. “It suits me must better to do the interview now, than before the holiday, where there was so much to do,” she says with smile in her voice.
You seem to have a busy everyday life. Do you have a daily routine?
Yes, I think I do. I practice TM, which is Transcendental Meditation, twice a day. And then I do Ashtanga yoga every other day. So I have some clear principles, which I stick to, and which I know are good for me. You can say it’s a way to feel myself both spiritually and physically, because meditation is about a connection with spirit, and practicing yoga is a way to get down and into your body. So the combination of the two does me really well, and ready for the day, and to make decisions and meet challenges.
So that’s what you start your day with.
Yes, meditation and yoga – and then I get to the office where I meet my lovely colleagues. It various a lot how my day looks and what’s at the top of the pile. But of course I have to check my email, and get an overview of the day’s challenges. That’s also by speaking to my employees, to see if there’s anything they need my help with. And that’s everything from the production in Italy. Or it can be the bookkeeping. Or product development. It can be many different contexts.
And if we should talk a bit more about work. You worked with music for many years, and now you’re in interiors – when made you change industry?
That’s because I moved from Denmark to Italy back in 2000. I couldn’t continue making music in Italy, when I didn’t know the music industry there. So it called for a change also work related and professionally. Og then in Italy, tiles become a normal part of your everyday life, and there’s also lots of lovely colors. Moving to a new country in general, just sharpens your senses, and all of the sudden you start noticing every little detail. You could almost say it’s like breaking a glass into pieces, and then finding all the parts it consisted of. It was a sort of a life crisis, having to change from one profession to another. Many of us have a lot of identification and sense of identity through our work. So for me, having to end being a singer was extremely fearful, because then who was I. It was almost like setting myself free. I was 28 years old at the time, so it was also great, and it turned out amazing. I would have never worked with tiles if I hadn’t moved to Italy. Then I would have never thought of that idea.
First you started Made a Mano, and now you have File Under Pop. What was the intention when you started File Under Pop?
It was definitely to take it a step further from working with tiles from a perspective of decorating bathrooms and kitchens. Not saying that I don’t also love to create bathrooms and kitchens, but I wanted to expand the concept of tiles to other rooms. And here the paint was a big help, as by including that I was all the sudden able to use tiles in a living segment, because I could create a link between the paint color and the tile color, so you get a subtle transition from one material to another. I could work with tactile surfaces, with texture and with adding the extra layer – the sensory layer, on creating surfaces. So that was the biggest jump from Made a Mano to File Under Pop. Creating paint colors and glaze colors paved the way for being able to create rooms in a larger context.
How do you go about decorating your own home?
I actually think, I live quite old-fashioned. I surround myself with almost the same things as I always have. I have the feeling, when I step into my home, it should represent a lot of life lived. My life lived. I like that it contains a lot of memories and history, and experiences. In reality, it should embrace everything that has been. I like that it points backwards. Of course, it also has to represent the present. Life only exists in the present. But I like when my present also contains a lot of the past with memories and times.
You work with colors and pattern, do you dress in them as well?
Definitely. I love dressing colorfully. For me, like with creating rooms, it’s about balancing elements, also when you’re creating your clothing style. My approach is quite intuitive. It’s about finding a balance between how I’m feeling today and what approach I have to the world today. I try to take my own temperature in the morning, and depending on that, I match colors, patterns and shapes of the clothes. It’s a very playful and easy-going approach I have, but always starting with how I feel in the morning.
I have to ask you about your Miles Davis tattoo – is there a story behind it?
It’s a detail from the record called Bitches Brew, which is a very important record because it’s actually the first jazz record to be recorded with electrical instruments. It’s a very legendary record, and a masterpiece. Extremely complex, crazy and very beautiful. And it’s an album that means a lot to me. You could say, the small selection I’ve chosen is, for me, my personal yin yang. The two faces in profiles looking each way, and which represents the dark and the light side of a personality.
How would you describe Copenhagen?
I love Copenhagen. I think it’s an extremely easy city to live and work in. I’ve lived here since I was 15 years old, so I feel very much at home, and have so many experiences stored here. It’s probably a little like with my apartment, I like having connections to experiences and memories. And Copenhagen is that kind of city to me. It’s a retrospect on good experiences.