Writer and founder, Song-I Saba, manages global sales and marketing for PYSCIS, a limited-edition gourmet tinned fish concept. Born in Vienna and now living in London; she is currently launching Complex Thoughts, a design studio founded with artist Hamish Pearch.
Creative Direction & Styling by Chiara di Carcaci
Words by Sophie Goodwin
Where did you grow up?
Vienna, Austria. A city where you can still plausibly choose what decade you want to live in.
How did it all start?
By accident. My father asked me for help with a passion project of his - PYSCIS - during lockdown when everything else had stopped. He’s always been a huge food and wine connoisseur and had become enamoured with the idea of creating the absolute perfect tin of sardines; at first just for friends and family, and it grew organically. The original concept was to take a simple and overlooked item - the (often mass-produced) humble sardine can - and elevate it to the highest possible standard. Produced yearly in limited runs we approach it like wine (ie our vintage 2019 sardines) and only making what is good that season, that year.
Where do you live and work currently?
Islington, North London. It’s perfectly positioned between East and Central London, so you get to enjoy East London’s more vibrant food scene whilst not being too far from the cultural hub. It’s the best of both worlds.
How do you research and plan your work?
Usually by scouring the internet and archives for many unproductive hours, then suddenly striking gold.
Who or what inspires you?
Fireworks and music have always sparked wonder, ever since watching my parents waltz around the living room at the stroke of midnight every New Year’s Eve as a child.
What are you working on at the moment?
Launching a design studio called Complex Thoughts with my partner, the artist Hamish Pearch. We want to make everything from 22-carat chewing gum necklaces, to ashtrays that look like chocolate bars, and kites. Whatever we think we’d like to exist in the world. We met at an opening of our good friend Freddie’s gallery Ginny on Frederick Street in London.
What can we expect to see from you over the next six months?
At PYSCIS we’re going to be introducing Baltic gold sprats in a 100-year-old secret recipe, and at Complex Thoughts we will finally be launching our new website and online store.
Do you have a daily uniform?
I haven’t committed to one yet. I still enjoy playing dress-up too much.
Whose style do you admire?
Anyone totally authentic. I think old people always have the best style, they’ve had more time to hone in on what makes them an individual. They worry less about what others think.
Most recent purchase?
A dressing table, I don’t know how I’ve managed to live without one for so long. It makes the ritual of getting ready before a celebration that much more dramatic and fun.
What is your personal style signifier?
My favourite 80-year-old Viennese tailor, Herr Laurer, made me a three-piece suit that I never took off, so the bottom wore out.
What values do you look for in a clothing brand?
An unwavering commitment to quality over quantity, pattern cutting chops and idealism.
'The Master and Margarita' by Mikhail Bulgakov and 'A Confederacy of Dunces' by John Kennedy Toole. They are both wickedly funny and satirical in their own ways, and were written by true mavericks who were unappreciated in their time. Both were published posthumously.
Do you collect anything?
I am very cautiously beginning to collect a bit of art, mostly by young artists, some of which are friends of mine.
Who is your partner in crime?
My best friend and knitwear designer Paolina Leccese. We were introduced in 2014 and have been sisters ever since. We’re opposite in many ways, but our hearts are the same.
Are there any consistent themes to your work?
Financially unviable, ha ha.
Favourite artwork or artist?
I love a painting called The Burial of the Sardine by Goya. It’s wild, jubilant, and a little sinister.
Favourite museum or gallery?
The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna is hands-down the best in the world. Aside from their incredible painting collection, their ‘Kunstkammer’ is a perfectly curated cabinet of art and curiosities representing the collected imperial treasures dating back to the 16th century.
Moment which changed the course of your life?
Moving to NYC in my early twenties. It was an exciting, carefree time in my life. I was out meeting new people almost every night of the week - that sort of thing is harder to do in London now.
Individual you admire the most?
My mother, Myung-Il Song, who embodies all things beautiful and dignified.
What would you like your legacy to be?
‘She was a good time’.