Skall letter No. 28

Souvanni Asmussen and Iris Brofos Heinsen – strong family ties 

Dear friends,

Family ties are important – and perhaps right now more than ever. That was clear to us as we visited Danish artist and former stylist Souvanni Asmussen and her daughter Iris Brofos Heinsen on a clear and frosty morning in Souvanni’s childhood home which is now home to her own family. 

“I think we are very close. Especially when I compare to my friends who don’t want to spend that much time together with their mother. I think what we have is rather special,” says Iris as we sit down and talk in the family kitchen.

The kitchen is still the same as in Souvanni’s childhood and the place where mother and daughter often sit down and share culinary recipes as well as other inspiration. Souvanni follows up: “Well, you have never escaped to your room.”They both laugh with a twinkle in the eye that reveals a deep mutual respect. To Souvanni respect is essential in their mother daughter relationship as well as in the rest of the small family that also counts Souvanni’s husband and Iris’ dad, Jeppe. 

“Me and my husband’s relationship has always been based on mutual respect. I think this is very important in relation to children as they will act as you act yourself. At the same time, I have always worked in a young field and maybe this is why I don’t feel old. In general, I am very open to new input. Something I think is crucial to maintain a strong relationship with your teenage daughter. And then again, I never had a reason to raise my voice.” 

Souvanni looks at Iris who smiles and polishes a halo in the air above her head. They both start laughing.

But how does it really feel to have a mother who has always worked with fashion and trends?

“I actually think this is one of the reasons why we have such a strong relationship. We have the same mindset and often the same taste.” Iris looks at Souvanni and continues: “You have always been able to understand me and we have always had a passion for the same things.” 

Souvanni adds: “In my age you may have a tendency to slow down and rely on what you already know. But I find it very interesting to explore new trends and I think it is important to keep being challenged. In a way I think you are obliged to look for the qualities in new things you don´t understand immediately. Actually, I am not that interested in fashion anymore, but I still think trends are interesting. Somehow they keep me on track.”

To be honest, is it never annoying to have a mother with a strong opinion on fashion and style? And is good advice always welcome?

“Well, it depends…,” says Iris and looks at her mother before she continues: “You obviously know what you are talking about.” She laughs. "When you comment on something I can see where you are going but other times, I just feel that I know what works best for me.”

Souvanni: “I often think that it is wonderful that you actually ask me. I don´t think this is a common thing for teenagers to do.”

You are both raised in creative homes. Souvanni as daughter of two illustrators and Iris as third generation of strong and creative women. How has this shaped you? 

Souvanni takes a small break to think before answering: “The creative aspect has certainly played a big role in my life which is perhaps also why I work as artist today. I am also raised with a strong work ethic. That you should always do your best. In my childhood home we worked very much on our own and with our own projects. I think it gave me the chance to find my own creative path. My parents never looked me over the shoulder while I was drawing. They never corrected me. This is something I want to pass on to Iris. I want her to feel that there is enough room for her to find her own path.”

Iris confirms: “I have always felt that there was enough room to experiment. Maybe it was not the finest hour to come down for breakfast in a pink tulle skirt and afterwards head for school. But my parents never said “hey, could you please wear something else.” I think I had the chance to find my own path. It is funny because people always think that I am such a creative person. Maybe this is why I haven´t been interested in doing creative projects for quite a while. Actually, I just started doing linocut again. When I first started, I was not aware of that I use many of the same tools and techniques as my grandmother used for her woodcut. Maybe my background has had a greater influence on me than I am actually aware of.”