Interview: Karie Soehardi, Creative Founder of Ella and Sofia

Posted by Suzi | April 5, 2012

Ella and Sofia are not who you are imagining (twins, bezzas, sisters or a lesbian couple), but rather two coffee shops, Cafe Ella and Cafe Sofia, where an idea was formed. Working as a buyer, Creative Founder and Designer Karie Soehardi was saddened by how fast beautiful products where being whipped off the shelf and replaced with new shiny ones. And so Ella and Sofia was born.

With a magpie eye for print and eclectic eco design, it’s little wonder the brand is growing- and glowing too- in the Australian design industry. Having just opened a new showroom in Sydney’s creative hotspot Alexandria, I caught up with Karie (who’s career philosophy I love: “My dad told me not to worry about what everyone else is doing but to go with my gut instinct. If i was going to survive in a creative field i had to be true myself.”)



1.What inspires you?

I have a deep love of architecture, prints and textiles from the Art Deco era, I also love quirky things. My background is eclectic I trained as a jewellery and object designer originally, so I find that I am inspired by things that are lovely and functional.

2. Was there a definable moment that led you into making eco-friendly products more stylish and available?

Not so much a moment as an awareness. Much of my inspiration comes from a time when pieces of beauty were made to last. You need to use quality materials and create timeless pieces that are valued. By using natural fibres, non-toxic inks, inserts that are made out of corn fibres or producing to order shows that you value what you are making. Our customers see this – we would prefer something to be handed down or re-upholstered then discarded.

3. Is it becoming easier to source products that are responsibly made and yet as aesthetically pleasing as the competition?

It’s not perfect yet and I don’t believe in preaching ‘green’ as the only way we do business.  Technologies are always changing for the better when it comes to the environment, so it’s about evolving, making decisions that you feel will have the least impact as well as using pieces that are pre-loved and giving them new life.

4. What, in your opinion, are the most exciting eco trends right now? 

Buying soft furnishings that are produced locally, designed and made with organic hemps and printed with non-toxic inks and filled with corn fibre inserts is exciting.

I was speaking to a woman the other day who has a bee hive, apparently the world would not survive as we know it without bees! She was telling me about all these bee hives around Sydney and the different types of honey. That is one cool hobby that helps all of us.

5. And, lastly, have you any tips for someone looking to shop more sustainably? 

You probably have a lot of the staples in your home right now – they just need a bit of an update!

A well structured sofa may only need to be re-upholstered not thrown out. A table may need to be sanded back and re-stained, a stunning floor lamp may only need a new fabric on the shade. Do not get overwhelmed about having to buy all new pieces that are eco-friendly, you are being eco-friendly by turning pre-loved furnishings into something slightly different.

Don’t bother with trends unless you like them, just purchase what you truly love and see the value in the way something has been made, what it has been made with and what it looks like. And lastly don’t fall for “sustainable equals expensive” – sustainable may last decades, if you were to replace an inferior piece in that ten years, how many times would you need to replace it and what would it cost you to do that every 6 to 12 months? Sustainable doesn’t looks so ‘expensive’ then!




No Comments yet »

XHTML: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Sydney Interior Designer, Suzi Boyle, Editorial branding, Interior Sourcing in Sydney and London