Stilleben co-founder Jelena interviewed by Rue de Tokyo about her creative journey

Rue de Tokyo conversation with Stilleben co-founder Jelena Schou Nordentoft

Stilleben co-founder Jelena interviewed by Rue de Tokyo about her creative journey

Recently Stilleben co-founder Jelena Schou Nordentoft was interviewed by Copenhagen based clothing brand Rue de Tokyo about her creative journey as a part of the brand's Instagram-series about creative and inspiring people. 

Jelena graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 2000, where she studied ceramics and glass design along with co-founder Ditte Reckweg. In 2002 they founded Stilleben together. 

Why Stilleben

'The name Stilleben came from the German art concept, referring to placing inanimate objects together, creating an aesthetic expression', Jelena explains. 'Something we wanted to create, that became our signature, in the shop - using carefully selected products, put together to create various mood and expressions. How the products could lift up or change the expression of each other, simply by how they were mixed together inspired and intrigued us.'

Stilleben office and archive

A creative journey

'Since childhood I have loved starting projects and using my imagination, but I fell in love with ceramics at Holbæk art school, where I had a fantastic tutor named Sandra Davolio. She opened my eyes to the possibilities of the material and launched a creative process in me.'

'She made raku firings with us at night (ed: a traditional Japanese ceramics firing technique), which was an experience that really imprinted itself in me. Not only because of the magic that appears in the glaze though the process, but also the fascination with creating something that can potentially exist forever through clay and fire.'

Jelena Schou Nordentoft in Stilleben's office space 

Kitchen dreams

In 2016 Stilleben expanded to co-found Stilleben Architects.

'Ditte and I dreamt of a kitchen for our flagship store in Frederiksborggade, since the kitchen is the heart of every home - and it would establish a framework around our kitchen textiles and tableware of ceramic and glass design.', Jelena explains. 'Ditlev, our partner in Stilleben Architects, designed a kitchen for Ditte's new apartment which ended up being just the kitchen we dreamt of. With that, the idea of starting a kitchen company together was born.'

Aesthetics becoming a lifestyle

'I have come to realize that design and aesthetic are a big part of my life. It is almost like a pair of glasses which I see the world through. It is colors, shapes and details I notice and that move me. It serves as a nourishment in my life, like fuel for a car. I can immerse myself into it, obtain energy from it and continue to learn and evolve through it.', says Jelena.

Stilleben concave glassware - vases in all colors

The value of everyday life. Special treats and all-time favorites

As much as design and aesthetics tend to merge the personal and professional, Jelena also makes sure to prioritize treats in her daily life. 'Something I strive to make time for in my everyday life, as often as possible, is having breakfast with my daughters.', she says. 'The morning hours are usually the easiest time to catch them before they set off for their day. I could undoubtedly be at the office early to get a head start to my work day, but sometimes we should just take the time to make that cup of tea and enjoy quality time together.' 

Even though Jelena lives outside the city, Copenhagen is an integral part of her life. 'My favorite place in Copenhagen right now it is Dronning Louises Bro. I love seeing urban life lived on and around the bridge. Somehow it feels like the essence of Copenhagen living at its best.'

Did you know? A selection of Rue de Tokyo clothing can be found in Stilleben's flagship store.

All photos: Rue de Tokyo