A Modernist by temperament and a Historicist by training, William Sofield believes that design must live as well as it looks. His work is characterized by a holistic approach to design that encompasses the requirements of living and a response to locale. Materials and architectural details take their cue from the context of the project at hand, with careful consideration for function and a client’s individual personality and needs. His work is made to improve with use and age, becoming places of memory and legacy.
In 1983, Mr. Sofield received his degree in Architecture and Urban Planning from Princeton University, following an academic focus on Art History and European Cultural Studies. In 1984 he completed the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program in Art History, and was later honored as a recipient of the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for Interior Design in 2010. In 2014 Sofield was honored by Fashion Group International for his work in interior design at their annual Night of the Stars event.
Sofield’s impassioned and unobtrusive approach extends to his private life. Weekends are spent sketching and reading, either at home, located just blocks from the Studio, or in nature outside of New York City. His professional manner is a reflection of his greater disposition, encapsulating seamless consideration for functionally elegant and durable design, and his desire to build visionary relationships with clients and collaborating artists.
O’Neill’s relationship with William Sofield began in New York City when the two consulted for Ralph Lauren in the 1980’s, and for Aero Studios in the 1990’s. Upon completing her Master’s in Landscape Architecture at the University of Virginia in 1996, O’Neill joined Sofield in opening the Studio and was appointed Vice President of the firm in 2004. As one of the Studio’s original members since its founding in 1996, O’Neill has shaped and reinforced Sofield’s holistic approach to design, tending to everything from the largest structural schemes to the smallest of details.
Born in Ireland, O’Neill earned her Bachelor’s of Architecture from the University College Dublin in 1990. A member of RIAI and RIBA, she ran and managed her own architecture firm from 1990 – 1994. During this time, she championed the Ballincollig Royal Gunpowder Mills Museum design competition, and completed various residential projects in Dublin.
Similar to Sofield, O’Neill resides with her husband and two children in close proximity to the Studio, typically riding her bike to work in the warmer months. O’Neill’s hands on approach to design mirrors her ability to foster a dedicated community of clientele and artists that surrounds the firm. Together for the past nineteen years, Sofield and O’Neill have built a compellingly elegant and convivial practice run from the same NoHo landmark building in New York City.
The Principals founded Studio Sofield in 1996 with the expressed goal of integrating multiple design disciplines. When Sofield and O’Neill entered the design profession, they envisioned a workshop dedicated to creative relationships with clients and productive collaborations with artisans and artists. These priorities inspire the work of Studio Sofield, which has distinguished itself as an interdisciplinary firm noted for the clarity, quality and wit of its projects.
Studio Sofield is guided by a sense of design propriety, and emphasis is placed on the highest level of quality in materials, details and techniques. Comfort and aesthetics are valued equally. Confluence of gesture and scale is top priority, with rigorous editing a hallmark of successful projects. Balancing this priority is the intellectual curiosity and humor that give the firm’s work its relevance and verve. Studio Sofield draws upon historical and popular culture – films and novels, modern architecture, 20th century art, popular theory and fine craft – to develop the narrative concepts from which every design program comes. The Studio aspires to the spirit of work that is non-conformist but always appropriate, disciplined and full of pleasure.
In addition to Sofield’s endowment of the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for Interior Design in 2010, the caliber of the Studio’s work was recognized on the Architectural Digest AD 100 List and the Interior Design Best of Year List numerous times, and was inducted into Interior Design’s Hall of Fame in 2004. The firm has also been awarded the Beverly Hills Architectural Award for Architectural Design in 1999 for Gucci, Rodeo Drive, and in 2003 for Yves Saint Laurent, Rodeo Drive, and for Small Retail in 2015 for Coach, Rodeo Drive. Additionally, the Studio was awarded Excellence in New Design by the Friends of the Upper East Side Historical District in 2014 for his completion of 135 East 79th Street in New York City.
Overall, Studio Sofield employs over thirty-five designers, with experience in disciplines including industrial, graphic and landscape design. The Studio’s expertise is applied to a range of services, from homes and shops, and clubs and hotels, to furniture and fixtures, and exhibition design. In every project, beautiful and functional solutions emerge from an artistic concept that is balanced by an unfailing sensitivity to the client’s needs and tastes, with clients as varied as Brice and Helen Marden, Bottega Veneta, Harry Winston, The SoHo Grand Hotel, David Barton Gyms, The Brodsky Organization, Coach, Derek Lam and Tom Ford. Currently, the Studio is developing private residences in Manhattan, Palm Beach and London, and has recently completed a 20-story residential tower on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.