Art is an essential tool to bring people together. That's why we did Les Gens Heureux. It was the primary mission of it and the aspect of art I'm in general the most interested in. I get a lot of energy from being with other people.Spending time with other humans makes you grow because you exchange views, build each other up, and educate each other in all aspects via human interactions.


Talent – Anneli Hakkinen
Interview – Caroline Krager
Photos – Elisabeth Eibye
Styling – Heidi Hofmann and Simone Henneberg
Hair and make-up – Lulu Hoa
















Tell us about your background. Are there some things from your past you want to share? 


I grew up in a mixed family consisting of me - an adopted kid from South Korea - a Danish mother and a Finnish father. As a young girl, I always felt more encouraged to follow the academic, "smart" route rather than a creative one, so I eventually decided to study law and now have a master's in law in my back pocket. Before that seriousness kicked in, though, I headed over to London during my gap year post-high school. The initial plan was to enroll in a dance institute, but instead, I ended up meeting some models I became fast friends with, who knew all the best nightclubs. We had so much fun, and even when I commenced my studies back in Copenhagen, I would visit London quite frequently for that reason. One of my friends went on to found a production company and produced music videos for big names like Kylie Minogue. I was allowed to access that world via her and seeing it from the inside made me realize I also needed to do something a bit more creative. 


After a few years with my head deep inside a law book as a legal advisor, I decided to make the jump over to a production company focused on TV commercials, where I withing a short period worked my way up. Subsequently, I started a creative agency called Rare, representing a few fashion photographers and film directors I'd become acquainted with through the years. 









Your next pivotal moment would be founding Les Gens Heureux, a gallery that became quite the CPH it-spot. Tell me how that all came about.  

During my year in London, I was introduced to the Soho House concept from the very early stages of the original house in Greek Street. Since then, I always dreamt of Soho House opening in Copenhagen. In 2012, Sanne Frank, an art director I'd met via work, and I decided to take matters into our own hands. We found this incredible apartment on the 5th floor of a beautiful building and thought it was the perfect space for creatives to meet, work, and get inspired. For the opening party, we wanted to invite all our, business partners, family and friends, and Sanne had the brilliant idea of doing an art exhibition as well. It was incredibly well received, and it evolved into an actual art gallery from there on. 

Sanne is the brain behind the Noma brand name, which she invented out of the abbreviation of Nordisk Mad. Our gallery name, Les Gens Heureux, meaning The Happy People, came out of our fondness for anything French, and the apartment had a palpable French feel. There was just such a unique vibe in that space that made us and everyone else so happy. With that said, it's supposed to be a little twinkle-in-the-eye-like.










What was the Copenhagen art scene like at the time? 


There were a lot of big players and well-established galleries, of course, places that were on the international radar. Still, I think we were among the very first to open a gallery in an apartment. Sanne and I were also two of very few female gallerists in the city back then. Both of these things drew a lot of attention, and because the space was so interesting-looking, aka not just a white cube, we amassed great clients, collectors, and artists from the get-go. That's not to say we didn't have to prove ourselves within the established art world though. It took time, but we got there. 


Speaking about art, what are your very first memories of experiencing art or expressing your creativity?


What comes to mind is when I went to Louisiana with my school class, I was probably about 12 years old, to see the solo exhibition of Edvard Munch. The Scream really moved me and made an impression I can still recall pretty vividly today. 


What role do you think art could or should play in today's society? 


I think art is an essential tool to bring people together. That's why we did Les Gens Heureux. It was the primary mission of it and the aspect of art I'm in general the most interested in. I get a lot of energy from being with other people. Spending time with other humans makes you grow because you exchange views, build each other up, and educate each other in all aspects via human interactions. 


In addition, it plays a vital role in talking about politics and social issues, especially in places where you don't really have democracy, and art becomes a way of communicating and commenting on issues or criticism. 






How would you describe your taste in art and what are some of your favorite artists at the moment?


I gravitate towards art that is positive and happy. That doesn't mean that I wouldn't go and see something deep, dark, or political, but it has to be on the happier, brighter side for me to want to have it hanging on my walls at home.


I love Coline Marotta for her use of colors, the gentleness in her portraits, and how she makes magic out of details from familiar everyday situations. I'm really drawn to Patricia Treib's sensuous aesthetic style, where unexpected but delicate colors are combined. Artists allowing their audience to interact with the art in a different way is something I'm fascinated by, just like Treibs did when she collaborated with Valentino. I also want to mention Guy Yanai, whose work has such a bright color palette, with simple scenes made unique and charming yet still very graphic. He's another example of an artist who decided to let his art be used in a surprising context when Hermes used his paintings as a beach towel motifs.


Last but not least, Faye Weiwei. Her figurative artworks are so dreamy and give off a somewhat romantic vibe. She includes very subtle storytelling and is part of a fresh generation of young artists with a new energy in their work. 


What's a big lesson you've learned in life? 

To always be true to yourself. Part of me has always been a people-pleaser, but I'm working on finding a balance between being true to myself and making people feel appreciated. 

This series of interviews is called Women Who Inspire. Who are some women who have inspired you, both in the past and the present?

Firstly, I'd like to mention our queen. I think she's a strong, inspiring, curious woman with an intelligent approach to her role and work. I believe she's succeeded in keeping her integrity and always staying professional. I also, of course, appreciate her artistic side.

And secondly, my daughter Yasmin Lyon. She graduated from the Rietveld Academy last year with a degree in Architectural Design. Yasmin is a great inspiration to me in how she approaches life. She is a very calm and thoughtful person with a good sense of humor. From an early age, she seems to have learned to stay true to herself. Through her work, she travels a lot, and I often lean on her to find new inspiration for art, design, and everything else. 


After 5 years of Les Gens Heureux in a fixed location, you sold the gallery space, but it still lives on as a pop-up. What's the status today? 

A few years back, I started to feel that I wanted more freedom and to still showcase great art, but perhaps in a more flexible way. Doing pop-ups was the perfect middle ground. These days, my main focus is Peter Shire, an artist from Echo Park in Los Angeles who creates playful ceramics in his studio. I represent him in Europe, which takes up most of my time. We have an ongoing pop-up in Geneva, we just launched the new collection at a retailer in Copenhagen, and are just about to do another pop-up in Paris, so it's pretty busy!

What do you need in order for you to be happy? 

It always comes back to being with family and friends… gathering around good food, good talks… and good art!






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