Geometry and colour spectrums: The wonderful work of Sophie Smallhorn

Throughout her career, British artist Sophie Smallhorn has worked on a spectrum of scales from her 80 x 80cm 2D prints to the huge exterior wrap she created for one of London’s 2012 Olympic Stadiums. Whatever the size or type of job the artist is working on however, she consistently puts exploring balances of colour, volume and proportion at the heart of her work – as her recent collaboration with COS shows to wonderful effect.

Sophie was commissioned by the Scandinavian brand to create five installations for COS shops in London, LA, Copenhagen, Seoul and Hong Kong. Some took over the shop windows while others occupied parts of the shop floors – complementing the fresh and zingy utilitarian clothes hanging in between, which are very much a signature of COS, as well as Sophie.

Each work that Sophie created is a scaled up version of her Component Cubes project, which is a series of 15x15cm 3D artworks from 2015. Like these smaller originals, Sophie’s COS installations showcase a joyful approach to colour combining with some unexpected colour pairings involved. At this scale, there’s also a pleasing feeling that something may topple to the floor, though of course nothing will.

The stacked shapes work perfectly as a whole piece and as Sophie told COS, “within a piece, I am creating a vehicle to hold the colour so when I am arranging the form, spacing and proportion I am considering whether there will be enough scope to hold the breadth of palette that I want to play with.”

But breaking the pieces down into smaller corners also results in new ideas for mixing tones – turquoise and tangerine, for instance, is a new pairing we’re now pondering. Sometimes sections feature one tone in varying shades, while others place brights next to muted tones in a pleasing case of complementary opposites. Sophie has always stated that her choices are purely intuitive, which makes her work even more covetable.

Follow Sophie Smallhorn on Instagram for more of her stunning work and her colour-led observations.

Jill Macnair


Jill Macnair has worked as an interiors journalist for 13 years, contributing to titles including Elle Decoration, The Sunday Times and The Guardian. She set up cult interiors blog My Friend’s House in 2009 with Ros Anderson and continues to run the forum daily.

The Chromologist 2019 | Farrow & Ball

The Chromologist