Jamiee Williams

Architect and curator

KOKOON Portraits # 20

The mountains of South Wales set the backdrop for 29-year-old Jamiee Williams’ childhood. The last eight years she has resided in Copenhagen and today she works as an architectural design lead at the ‘future-living lab’ SPACE10.

What characterises your life right now?

Travel, work, re-watching Homeland, catching up with friends, listening to The Blazes’ new album, reading Size Matters! (De)Growth of the 21st Century Art Museum, spending time with my girlfriend and wonderfully long phone conversations with my nanna.

What does art and culture mean to you?

It plays a huge role in my life. Throughout my training to become an architect, art was a constant influence. It led me to CHART Art Fair (an annual art fair in Copenhagen, ed.) and the five years of developing an art and cultural program for Copenhagen, which taught me so much and gave me some of my closest friends and memorable experiences. Now it’s an important inspirational source not only in my everyday work, but it manifests in my time off, vacations and travels. It’s great to travel with a purpose and a lens to look through. I just got back from a two weeks trip to Japan, where I was working on a project supported by The Danish Arts Foundation. It looks at how art and architecture can rejuvenate local communities. I really believe art and culture are some of the most fundamentally important elements of society. It offers the freedom of expression and vision of opportunity that so little else can today.

What does a typical workday look like?

Working at SPACE10, there is no such thing as a typical day - and that’s part of the reason I love it. Working with passion and feeling like you are contributing to something that’s meaningful and will make a mark on this world has always been important to me. At SPACE10, we essentially are on a mission to identify emerging trends and design innovative responses to the bigger challenges expected to affect societies in the coming years. So, my workday is full of exploring and learning from others on what’s happening in the world today as well as brainstorming with my colleagues on how we can design solutions to help shape a future, we want to live in. The pace is fast and constantly changing. We have the opportunity to travel a lot, which I love and everyone at the office has super high ambitions which we all thrive within.

I feel incredibly lucky to be able to work with things I am passionate about and at the same time be surrounded by amazing people in an environment that is really a lot of fun, supportive, inspirational and energetic.

Aside from SPACE10, I work on pro temp. a curatorial company I co-founded with four women. We work towards placing emerging artists into established galleries with the aim to merge the two worlds and create a unique and energetic art experience once a year. It’s each of our passion project and every Tuesday we come together to develop the next show.

Turning points that helped define who you are today?

Well, I’ve for sure had a few of those. But there are three that stand out. Not a lot of people know that when I was 18 I was woken up in the early hours of the morning by eight police officers and arrested for some pretty hefty charges. I was accused of doing something that I hadn’t done by some girls I actually grew up with. It was quite a traumatic experience, fighting to prove innocence like an episode of some bad cop show. But for sure it was a wakeup call and a huge lesson in understanding your actions have consequences. It taught me the importance of being responsible for everything you do and stand for as yourself but also towards those that surround you.

Growing up in rural Wales was amazing and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have an amazing family and went to a fantastic school and met the most wonderful friends that are still my dearest, but I was always curious to find out what was on the other side of the Welsh mountains. It wasn’t until I moved to Milan (actually as a consequence of the arresting episode) that it started to take shape. It’s a common story, moving abroad to study, throwing yourself into somewhat unknown territory, not knowing anyone or what the year ahead will bring, it’s bound to change you - and it did. My horizons and understanding of the world and people around me just exploded. I was surrounded by people from all over the world with an array of political opinions, societal traits, sexual preferences and overall approaches to life that I started to identify with. Art, design and culture started to shape a big part of my every day and it’s essentially, what led me to Copenhagen.

2016, the year ‘almost’ everything went wrong - Brexit, Trump, close ones passing and relationship turning points - that year was one that kept testing my limits and constantly question who I was and what I wanted my life to be like. It finally topped itself with a bike accident. I suffered a pretty bad concussion and it turned my whole world upside down. I couldn’t work, exercise, socialise, travel, read, watch or listen to anything. You basically feel hungover 24-7. I was forced to re-evaluate quite a lot as my limits had changed both physically and mentally. The importance of having community and support from friends and family were more important than ever. I quit my job to relieve stresses in my every day, began practicing yoga and take care of my body and for the first time put myself first. Learning that it’s okay to do that from time to time was a real turning point. Finally, the reason I said ‘almost’ everything went wrong that year was because out of all that was upside down the one thing that flipped it back was meeting my girlfriend, Stephanie. Without sounding too corny, she really changed my life and I will forever be grateful to her for that.

What does gender mean to you?

I was the pure definition of a tomboy growing up, pink was a no-go. In fact, I cried once because my mum bought me an Adidas tracksuit with pink stripes (her last attempt at integrating femininity into my wardrobe). But I love being a woman, I don’t identify with being overly feminine or masculine and I think it’s nice to float around in between the two.

Even Paradise Has Dark Corners – my tattoo freshly made at Shamrock Social DIA Beacon, an hour out of New York - a MUST see! 
Sailing with Stephanie <3 I always try to stay in weird and wonderful places when travelling. This is Ricardo Bofills’ La Muralla Roja in Spain
Wales - every Christmas my high school friends and I climb this mountain to remind ourselves to appreciate the nature we grew up in Appreciating family. Living far apart makes these moments even more special
One of the first things you learn as an architect – Don’t forget to look up! James Turrell, 'Breathing Light' at LACMA in LA
One of the most compelling, hypnotic and immersive videos works of all time by Jeremy Shaw called 'Liminals A moment of peace' in Flores e Prats pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale