Homes that tell a story
All homes have a story to tell. A story of expectations and dreams, hopes and memories. A story told through things brought back from travels, art made by best friends, and pieces that have been passed on in the family for generations. Navigating the chaos and calm of life, we need that space for reflection and comfort. A small haven in everyday life where we feel at home and can be ourselves. Our own story of a meaningful home is expressed through our showroom THE HOME, decorated in one of the classic buildings of Copenhagen. THE HOME is a story of who we are as a brand, and it’s created on the solid foundation of over 12 years spent, exploring what we want and need to feel at home. It’s a story told through our distinct designs with roots in our past and a constant challenge of ourselves to shape the future. But our story is just one. Now we’ve turned to the people who inspire us and have asked them to tell us their home’s story. Eight creative women around Europe have opened up their homes that tell stories of how to find balance in a busy life, how to surround yourself with meaning and memories, and how to fulfil your dreams. But, the thing about homes is, as Agnese Kleina who we visisted in Riga so lovely said: “It’s wherever you are – the rest is just a nice frame, but you’re the image.”
Agnese Kleina RIGA, LATVIA
Thereâ€™s no escaping history in the capital of Latvia, Riga. Beautiful art nouveau buildings stand side-by-side with simple, wooden houses, telling a tale of past times in the wear and tear of the bricks and colours. As the largest of the three Baltic capitals, Riga combines past splendours and tragedies with a flourishing youth and art scene. In the midst of that, we meet Agnese Kleina, the inspired and inspiring editor-in-chief of the award-winning conceptual magazine Benji Knewman and a central figure in the Latvian art scene.
Agnese greets us on the street, as there’s no entry telephone, leaving her with no options but climbing down from her penthouse apartment on the sixth floor, overlooking the city about to burst into bloom in time for spring. A wide staircase leading up to an iron gate, reminding us of the aristocratic times in which this building was erected. As she tells us how shy and quiet creatures the Latvian people are, she leads us through her home, giving us a detailed and poetic account of her life and how she composed a personal museum of her impressive art, plant, shoe, and hat collections. How did you end up in this gem of an apartment? Once, I read this interview with Art Garfunkel of Simon & Garfunkel, who walks around Europe each year. He said this one thing, which stuck in my head: It’s important never to get bored of yourself. A few years back I was living a life that I didn’t love, so one day I decided to change it. Quit my job, find a new apartment and do something I love. I was fortunate to find this place. It was just a listing on the Latvian Craig’s List, but the images were so bad that no one bothered to stop by and check it out. The minute I walked through the doors, I saw the beautiful details it offered. I knew the man, who took
the pictures and I thanked him a million times for making such crappy images because otherwise, someone else would live here now. Tell us a bit about what you do today I was working at a brand consulting agency, and I wasn’t at all content with the situation. One day, working late with Madara, who’s a graphic designer, I simply said: We could keep doing this for others the rest of our lives and stay dissatisfied, or we could make our own magazine. She immediately said yes, and what was at the time a dream quickly transformed into a promise to change our lives. Not long after that, I quit my job and started building up my magazine from the ground. Benji Knewman is a bilingual bookazine, which is published twice a year with personal accounts and features, mainly from Latvia by Latvians. Madara was the one to introduce me to the indie magazine scene, which was still at an early stage five years ago. She has been with me from the beginning working on conceptualising the layout, but other than that, I do most of the things myself; from editing to shipping. I never planned to get here today, so I’m equally surprised and proud of where we’ve ended up.
”The thing I really like about interior design is that furniture doesn’t wear off the same way clothes do. Actually, some only get better in time when they get patina.”
How did you get into writing and publishing in the first place? In fact, I’ve been writing since I was 16. Growing up, I was living with my parents in Liepaja, right next to the Baltic Sea. When I was 18, I went on exchange in Hiroshima in Japan for a year, and that was a real eye-opening experience. It was before the Internet really happened, so I wrote actual letters and had conversations with my family over the phone. But there I experienced for the first time in my life that there isn’t just one way to do things. Now, whenever I visit my parents, I like going there with the bus and
observe the people. Even though they’re often just on their phones, I love watching how people live, and these stories about people are at the centre of Benji Knewman. Benji Knewman is internationally praised, and you visit fairs and stores all over the world. Yet, you stayed in Riga for most of your life? Well, after Japan, I started studying French at the Academy of Culture, and in that relation, I did a year in France as well. But then I moved here, and I never thought of leaving. Today, I work with the mindset of Latvia, and that’s much bet-
ter when I’m here. The thing about the world today is that I can now go to New York or London and bring back the New York’y or London’y lifestyle to Riga, without actually having to live there. Your home is decorated a bit like you would a museum. Do you choose things by how they look or their function? Oh, I’m looking very much to the practical side. But then again, how many practical things do you need? I guess, a bed, a table, a chair, and a desk. When I was younger, I was very much into fashion, and I think it goes like that. First, you start with
yourself, and it’s all clothes, clothes, clothes. Then later in life, you start to focus on your surroundings. The thing I really like about interior design is that furniture doesn’t wear off the same way clothes do. Actually, some only get better in time when they get patina. So, I do think it’s important how things look. It may look a bit like a museum, but I need a place where everything is in order when I have so many things in my head every day. You’ve lived in this place for six years. Has it looked like this always? Haha, not at all. I redecorated everything last year. Every time spring comes, I want new stuff, and I’m always looking for a good excuse to look for things. I have always loved compositions and to create little islands of things. Even in my fridge, it’s important to me how things are arranged and that everything is in exactly the right place. What does the word home mean to you today? I’ve lived in four different places in Riga, one of which were my aunt’s where I lived for four years, sharing a bed with a friend of mine. But the thing about homes is that home is wherever you are – the rest is just a nice frame, but you’re the image.
”The thing about homes is that home is wherever you are – the rest is just a nice frame, but you’re the image.”
Thilde Maria Kristensen In a country known for its grey skies and rainy days, we need bright colours to keep our spirit up. So, when the flower artist, Poppykalas suddenly appeared with her marvellous creations in stores, for magazines and bridal bouquets, we were all eyes and ears. With a style language different from your standard flower arrangements, Thilde Maria Haukohl Kristensen, the woman behind Poppykalas, communicates through the beautiful language of flowers with the aim of bringing back sensuousness in the world. We met Thilde in her, not surprisingly, very colourful apartment in Copenhagen to talk about her love of flowers and her urge to decorate her home like Pippi Longstockingâ€™s Ville Villekulla.
How did you first get into arranging flowers? Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother who taught me everything there is to know about flowers. My grandmother was an artist herself and made paintings of flowers with a technique that gave the flowers a 3D effect. In my work today, this style is reflected in the way we arrange our flowers, which is different from the traditional way of binding a bouquet or flower installation. In that sense, I haven’t been schooled in the art, but that also gave me the opportunity of not taking all the rules so seriously and create a freer expression. I think I’ve followed the Pippi Longstocking attitude to life: “I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that.” What is it about flowers that fascinate and attract you? Right now, on the international scene there’s so much going on with flowers, so it’s an exciting time to work in the field. But what I really like about it is that flowers give me a language with which I can communicate with the world and tell a story. We have worked a lot on perfecting our expression and freeing ourselves from the strict rules of the classic flower arrangements. But most importantly, flowers have a sensuousness that I think we experience a lack of in the world of today.
”Flowers have a sensuousness that I think we experience a lack of in the world of today.”
You started working with flower styling and arranging from home. How has the way you work influenced your relationship with your home? When I first started working by myself with flower styling, it all began on the balcony. When one day, leaves of flowers were spread all over the kitchen too, I realised it was time for me to get a studio. Today the studio is my free space, my playground. It made me a lot calmer to create clear boundaries between my work and my home so that when I’m home, it’s free time. I leave my computer in the studio. At first, I barely had any flowers at home at all because I needed to find a space of stillness when I had all the flowers and colours all day in the studio. But now, I’ve found a balance, so the flowers are starting to come back into our home.
In your professional life, you’ve created a connection to nature, yet you and your family still live in the middle of the city. How did this come about? We are very much city people. We love going and eating out and spend a lot of time with all the things the city has to offer. But we do also have a vacation house in the northern part of Zealand. I love it there, being outside and in our garden, but we only need to be there a short while before I want to be back in the city. What does the word home mean to you? My home needs to by vivacious, cosy, and comfortable. It’s essential that you don’t feel wrong or out of place in a home. I think you should create a home that feels like a home even to those who don’t actually live there. Do you decorate with feelings or aesthetics? It’s most important to me how the place feels but being a very aesthetic person, I wouldn’t feel nice with things I don’t also find beautiful. To me, it doesn’t feel nice without colours or if there are too many clean surfaces; it gives me a clinical feeling which I wouldn’t want in my home. We’ve built many of the things in our home ourselves, so really, it’s turned into one big playground. We like it to be a soft space, which is why our kids are allowed to colour on the walls, and why we sometimes make a big mess by eating on the floor instead of properly at the table. Our home is a place where you should be allowed to just be. How do you balance the many colours in your life? I go through periods in my life where I’m almost obsessed with one particular colour and get everything in that same nuance. But I usually go for a combination of one deep
colour and a pastel, which creates a nice contrast, I think. I really love pastels, but it’s important to me that it doesn’t become too pretty, what makes the contrasts important. What kind of home do you dream of? My dreams are again created by
contrasts because what I dream most of is a home which is both a little closer to the sky but also has a garden. And then still, I really love colours, and to be honest, I just want to paint every wall a different shade and move into our own version of Pippi’s Villa Villekula.
”I really love colours and to be honest, I just want to paint every wall a different shade and move into our own version of Pippi’s Villa Villekula.”
”I think you should create a home that feels like a home even to those who don’t actually live there.”
â€?We like it to be a soft space, which is why our kids are allowed to colour on the walls, and why we sometimes make a big mess by eating on the floor instead of properly at the table.â€?
The Scandinavian design heritage is a famous and an easily recognisable style to many. And although we take pride in our Danish legacy, we keep an eye on what is cooking in our neighbouring countries. Not least in Finland, whose design just cannot be disregarded. Welcome Home
Anna Pirkola HELSINKI, FINLAND
Although being a young country – the Fins just celebrated their 100th year’s independence in 2017 – its capital is often mentioned as a leading city of design. In 2012 they were announced the World Design Capital, and two years later they entered the famous list of UNESCO City of Design. So naturally, we needed to visit the city to explore how the Fins live. And who better to show us this than the stylist, designer, and blogger Anna Pirkola, who lives in a beautiful apartment in a flourishing part of Helsinki. Although it’s no grand space, there’s plenty of room for her, her husband and their two small girls, Seela and Meeri.
”Decorating this place was very different to my decorating jobs in my professional life. Here, I didn’t make all the plans I usually make. It was more a matter of trusting my instincts and doing what feels right.”
You live in one of the leading cities for design. Was it always the plan to follow a career as a stylist and designer? I studied to become a textile designer at art school. My husband and I work together as designers in Our Edition, and we mostly do that from our home. Next to this, I work as stylist and art director in my other company Studio Plenty, which we recently founded together with my colleague Kirsikka Simberg. But even though, we work a lot, it doesn’t feel like work; it feels more like a hobby. But that it worked out this way was more of a coincidence. When I graduated from art school, I was in a band. It was obvious that it would never pay my rent, but at that time it was an opportunity to travel the world. Given that I travelled a lot, it wasn’t possible for me to have a regular 9-5 job in an office. So, I started freelancing whenever I could, and somewhere along the way it evolved to the point where I found myself working in two companies. How does it feel to be filling the shoes of the great and famous designers of Finland? Well, the design heritage is always there; there’s no escaping it. And though it’s great, it can feel difficult to make something new because it somehow doesn’t feel right. At art school, we were always shown these great designs, and it made me feel like there were rights and wrongs in design – as if there was just the one road to follow. Having this heritage is good, and it’s bad. Because Finnish design got so big, it’s like things have lost their meaning and function and have turned into really nice design pieces to look at, and I think that’s a shame. I try to allow the kids to use the things and drink from a glass, even if it’s a design piece. I mean, at the end of the day it’s just a glass. Where do you find inspiration for your work? I try to make space in the calendar for other things than my work, and instead time for exhibitions and favouri-
te galleries. Art is something that always presents me with new perspectives. But in fact, I recently found out that whenever I get out of the shower, my head is spinning with new ideas. I guess it’s the one place where I’m without my phone and all alone with my thoughts. It’s the same when I go to the sauna. I think I need that place where I can process all the impressions I’ve had to turn them into actual ideas. You just moved into this apartment last fall. How was your approach to decorating the space? Before we moved in here, an elderly couple had been living here for most of their lives. We needed to change everything from the floors to the kitchen. But decorating this place was very different to my decorating jobs in my professional life. Here, I didn’t make all the plans I usually make. It was more a matter of trusting my instincts and doing what feels right. But I like not having finished everything in a day. It turned out much better because I had the time to take it step by step and to decorate the space according to what we needed in our home. Did you take the possibility to start from scratch when you moved in here? Most of the stuff here, we brought from the old place. When I buy things, I like to think that they’ll last a long time. That’s also why some of my favourite pieces are things I’ve inherited from my parents or family, such as the dining chairs and lounger. I love letting different decades come together in a room and mixing old and new. Your apartment is held in a soothing, calm colour palette. What’s your relationship with colours? Colours are essential to me. Not just the colours themselves, but especially the combination of colours. The colours here are very subtle in a way. I’m not much into
bright colours. Maybe in small details, but I couldn’t paint an entire wall yellow. With my background in textile design, it’s not just about the colours though. Also, structures, textures, shapes, and materials are things I carefully consider when I decorate a space. Do you have things that you could never live without? There’s nothing I couldn’t live without besides family and maybe a few old photographs. But I do have things that I treasure dearly. I love the lounge chair, which used to be my grandmother’s. It was a prototype, so it’s unique. My books also take up a special place in my home. I try to read every evening. I’ll go to bed, and usually I’m exhausted, but even so, I convince myself to read at least one page. It’s important to me to get these few minutes of thinking of something entirely different from the things that have occupied my mind through the day. What does the feeling of ‘home’ mean to you? A home is the place where you relax. But it’s difficult to say what makes a home because it’s my feeling that wherever and however it is, you can make it your home. It’s the feeling that counts and that can be created in many different places.
Although the apartment is not that big at all, the two little girls have their own space with room to be just who they are.
Ellinor Belvén & Annetta Kristjánsdóttir Salty Interiors
The duo behind Salty Interiors, Ellinor Belvén and Annetta Kristjánsdóttir grew up in respectively Sweden and Iceland but met in Berlin where they found each other over a shared love of Scandinavian designs and a good laugh. They recently founded their stylist consultancy, bringing the Nordic atmosphere and design to Germany.
For a decade, Berlin has been a pulsating metropole, attracting both the aspiring and established designers and artists, – not least the ones from the Nordic countries, who fall in love with the raw beauty of the city, the apartments with high ceilings, and the buzzing atmosphere of the big city. As we enter the newly renovated apartment on the fourth floor, it’s not difficult to understand why this apartment was chosen over the one they had before on the ground floor. The winter sun of Berlin lends a helping hand, but the apartment overlooking a small green square has an inflow of light which is unbelievable. Everywhere we look, the light makes the sculptural designs, vases with flowers, and water glasses on the dinner table cast shadows, creating a dramatic and stunning dynamic in the living room. The table is set, just as we know it from home: The best talks happen over coffee and cake, the traditional Swedish ”fika”.
How did your paths take you from the cold, Nordic countries to Berlin? Annetta: I was living in London where I met my German boyfriend who convinced me to move with him to Berlin. Ellinor: I travelled here on and off for some years before finally deciding to move. I fell in love with the city itself, and that’s why I decided to completely relocate here. We met here by chance. Or in fact, I met Annettas boyfriend, who kept saying I should meet his girlfriend as he thought we’d really hit it off. And here we are, so many years later. Annetta: It’s funny, because since then we’ve followed each other from job to job. We’re both educated purchasers, and after working together in so many different business, we finally decided to start up on our own two years ago. Ellinor: It was really lucky. Germany is a great country to start a business,
but we also had a lot of luck with the timing. I guess we started just at the right time with bringing the Scandinavian feeling to Germany, which has become really big now.
textiles in my home, so in that way we’re not so minimalist. We always start with a main object like that and then add the beautiful things around it.
The light in this apartment is amazing! Ellinor: Yes! We really have a thing for light. We were also just so lucky to get a new work studio for SALTY in Neukölln, which has the most amazing large windows, so every drop of sun there is, we get.
Annetta: Working as we do with design, we’re always on the search for new things. But we rarely do impulse purchases. It’s much more about having an idea or a vision for a corner in your home, and then searching everywhere until you find just the right thing.
What’s important to you when decorating your home? Annetta: I think it’s important to listen to yourself. I really believe things can scream at you and make you feel something special. That’s important to me. Also, we would never style a home just to look beautiful. For us, all things in a home also need to have some sort of function. Ellinor: I think it has a lot to do with materials, as well. I need plants and
How does your relationship with your own homes develop, when you do home stylings all day? Annetta: We’re constantly changing our surroundings. Both in our work, but also at home. Our boyfriends will often come home and be like: “Didn’t there use to be a rug here?” But it just comes very natural to us to change a lot. That’s also why we never use things in our stylings that are sentimental to us.
”But in the end it comes down to our love of creating things the simple pleasure of starting from scratch with a white canvas and seeing what happens from there.” Ellinor: I guess since moving to Berlin altogether, I don’t own that many things. I don’t have a feeling that there are things in my home that I couldn’t live without. Annetta: We don’t get too attached to stuff. We’re really hard like that, if we don’t use something, we give it away. Ellinor: This vintage dining table here was actually one that I brought with me from Sweden. But now it’s here with Annetta and in half a year, it may be somewhere else. At our studio, we have a storage room with enough furniture to several houses. What does the word ‘home’ mean to you? Annetta: It’s all about the comfort.
It’s where we take down our shield and don’t have to be anyone or anything. Ellinor: Home, really, is more of a feeling than anything else. Annetta: Definitely. I really love my daily routines. And if I have the people who are closest to me, I feel good. It has nothing to do with a cup or a duvet, it’s about feeling safe. Where do you go for inspiration? Ellinor: We get a lot of inspiration by simply being outside. Both personally and in our work, we take a lot from nature. That’s also why, you’ll always find natural and raw materials in our stylings and homes. We really love materials like wood, straw, concrete, cotton, and of course, where would
we be without plants and flowers? Annetta: Each of our projects always starts with a lot of research. In fact, we’re researching all the time. That’s why we also spend a lot of time finding inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest, which is basically a pretty Google. Ellinor: In our work, we want to tell a story with everything we do. And there’s a lot of inspiration to be found everywhere we go. But in the end it comes down to our love of creating things – the simple pleasure of starting from scratch with a white canvas and seeing what happens from there.
London, UK Working with everything from internationally regarded publications such as the New York Times, over Norwegian medical journals and the Japanese avant-garde flower artist Azuma Makoto, to big fashion brands, the 29-year-old illustrator Katie Scott has made quite the name of herself. She has illustrated three books on animals, evolution and the fantastic world of botany, which are all highly acclaimed â€“ and not only among the curious children they were intended. In the flat Katie shares with a friend and her boyfriend and collaborator, James, in London, we were invited into her marvellous world of inspiration. With unique artwork by herself and her friends, a jungle of plants, and tiny objects with special stories, she surrounds herself with things that display her strong creativity and love of nature.
In such a short time, you already have an impressive reputation in the illustrations scene. Have you always wanted to be an illustrator? A friend of mine told me she was applying for a degree in illustration. At that point, I had never heard of it before. I studied arts and graphic designs but found that neither was exactly the right fit. Meeting illustration, it felt like finding my spot, as it sits right in between art and design. The real hard part started when I graduated from university, where I’d just come out like “So, I’m an illustrator now, hello?”. Then I got a deal to do an album cover. It was before Instagram, but in the heydays of Tumblr, so I was lucky to have my work spread that way. A Google search quickly reveals that you’ve been keeping busy since graduating six years ago. How do you choose your projects? I’m trying not to do too much of the same thing every year. After a year with books, I’ll aim for a year of doing something entirely different. Recently, I’ve been work-
ing with my boyfriend James who is an animator. We were so excited about working with an artist that we both admire a lot, the Japanese flower artist Azuma Makoto. I did the illustrations and James animated them into a short movie. That was a dream project, and we could hardly believe it when we received the first e-mail from him. It’s nice to work together with James as we have the same opinions of how the final result should turn out. The housing situation in London is notoriously hard; how did you find this place? We found this place six years ago, and I guess we just got fortunate. It did take a lot of time and patience though. Over the time, we’ve had many people living here. It was nice to have someone to share the bills with, which gave us the freedom in the beginning of our freelance career to pursue our goals and dreams, not worrying about getting a “real job”. Eventually, James and I took over more and more space, so now we’re just three of us living here.
You have a small workspace in the corner of the living room, making your home partly your studio. How important are your surroundings when you work? Very. When I go into my studio, I sometimes feel like an exotic bird, flickering around with the urge to move things around. I’ve been like this my entire life. When I was a kid, I used to change rooms with my brother and sister all the time. I like moving around, but now, I’ve lived in this place for six years. That’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere. In your living room, there are a lot of little things to explore. You almost made a small museum for yourself. How do you go about with all that when arranging – and rearranging the room? I like stuff! But I don’t feel cluttered at all, as I’m pretty ruthless in throwing things away. I have all these little bits that my friends and family found. Some of my favourite books were presents from people who found them at yard sales and thought of me. Now, my favourite things are all of the things because I so often go through the stuff and throw things away. I guess what I like about
decorating a room is its similarity to drawing. My favourite part has always been the composition and moving things around until they’re in the exact right place. Sometimes I’ve even moved the furniture around only to find out they were already in the perfect spot to begin with. Your work is so connected to nature, yet you live in one of the biggest cities in the world. How do you experience this balance? Growing up, I spent my weekends in London at my dad’s, but the weekdays at my mum’s in Kent. So, I’ve always had the best of both worlds. Right now, I prefer living somewhere rich in culture with frequent visits to the countryside. But maybe someday the table will turn. Being freelance and on top of that, working with nature, also give me the freedom of just saying ‘I need to go to the forest’, and just leave immediately. I often take a walk through the Abney Park Cemetery where I can experience the changing of seasons, and it’s the closest thing you get to actual nature in the middle of London.
You have a very recognisable style and distinct colour palette in your illustrations. The many plants in your living room, of course, makes the space very green, but do you have a favourite colour? I like any colour, but what I like more is the combination of colours. It all depends on what the colour is sat next to. Still, I dress in black all the time, but I’ve gotten a bit more confident in the home decoration. But not as much as when I’m working, where I have a strong sense of what I’m doing and don’t question my choices as much. What does your home mean to you? I like being at home. I spent a lot of time here, and I like to create nice situations for my friends and me to be in. Having lived here for so long with many different people our home has turned into the place where people come over all the time. It’s a social house that way. Also, whenever I come back from my travels with work, I feel like me again the minute I walk in through the door. It’s not that I miss home when I travel, but when I come back, I realise that a little piece of me was missing.
Helena Ă–hman STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN
Meet Helena Ă–hman who found her home in a small, one-room apartment. Focusing on the light and the little details that she can take with her every time she moves, her home is where she finds quiet moments from her busy everyday life.
Helena is an interactive producer, working as Head of Production at the agency Edelman Deportivo. Overlooking the central part of Stockholm, her bright one-room has a view from the large balcony over Södermalm. How did you end up in Stockholm? I grew up in the northern part of Sweden in a small city called Piteå, surrounded by a lot of nature. When I got older, I moved to Los Angeles where I took my last year of university. Then I got offered a job in Stockholm in 2013 that I couldn’t say no to. Stockholm was the only place I would live in Sweden, and I’ve come to love it. It’s the place where I made my own life because I moved here with an entirely clean slate. How did you find this apartment? Homes are quite difficult to come by in Stockholm. But I was lucky, as friends of mine used to live here. They wanted to move and invited me to check out the place. I immediately fell in love with the apartment with its huge balcony, sunlight, fishbone parquet, and lovely wooden details. You’ve moved around quite a lot in your life, and now you do a lot of travelling with your work. What does the sense of home mean to you? I like to move around. I don’t need a certain city to be my home, but I do get affected by my surroundings. Home is somewhere I can make it my own, although I don’t need to own it or think that I’m going to live there my whole life. It’s where I can feel like myself – somewhere
to sleep and think and just be. I don’t see my home now as a permanent place, but somewhere I want to be able to feel relaxed when I’m here. It’s not that it needs to be temporary, but it’s the feeling that it could be. How do you decorate your home if it feels temporary? I think it’s more about the little things and tokens. I have a lot of art that my friends made. And that is stuff I can always bring with me to my next home. So, I go for anything that fits in a suitcase. But I do have a few favourites in my home that are a bit bigger. My grandfather was a carpenter, and he built me this flower pedestal that stands by the window. Also, my uncle made me a bedside table with an angled shelf for books I like. They’re both pieces that connect me to the North where I’m from. Of course, only having one room makes it a challenge to decorate the apartment. But I’ve tried to direct the direction of perception towards an empty wall with the help of a rug on the floor. I have also used plants and art to frame areas which aren’t utilised. It’s a small apartment, but because it has high ceilings, it feels a bigger. But that also made textiles and the plants essential to soften the echoing feel that it would have, had I kept it more minimalistic
”I collect a lot of little things from my travels. I have small rocks and stones like a little kid, haha, and also, I develop photographs from my trips and hang them on my walls.”
Does that mean that you choose things with a history? Yes, I guess so. I’ve never thought about it that way. But I collect a lot of little things from my travels. I have small rocks and stones like a little kid, haha, and also, I develop photographs from my trips and hang them on my walls. I like to surround myself with things that remind me of happy places.
”My grandfather was a carpenter, and he built me this flower pedestal that stands by the window. Also, my uncle made me a bedside table with an angled shelf for books I like. They’re both pieces that connect me to the North where I’m from.”
So, your home is based more on feelings than looking good? I think it’s more important how it feels. When you walk into a room, you get that immediate feeling of home. That has a lot to do with both how it looks, but also smells and light is essential to me. My friends call me a “mood manager”. If there’s a ceiling light on, and that’s the only source of light, I feel like it’s screaming at me. I like little dim lights. Only then can I relax. I don’t want to hold on to too much stuff because of the lack of space. But I wouldn’t define myself as a minimalist at all. I choose things because they speak to me, not because they’re in trend right now. It’s the things that give me a specific mood or impulse. What’s your favourite thing to do, when you are home? I like my weekend mornings. I love just enjoying that time and space where I listen to music and make my coffee and
put some incense on or whatever. Also, every Tuesday I have a dinner with a group of friends, and it’s usually set in my home. So, in that way my home is both a place of solitude and a place to invite people over. How does your dream home feel and look? It has a lot of light. I have a dream of a big home with beautiful old, wooden floors and a big kitchen where you can have a nice slow breakfast, grind your coffee and have a window with a beautiful view. Maybe it even has a room where I could just live the stereotype of a writer with some whisky and a lot of books. A place to be all indulgent and cliché. Maybe a creative studio. Just a place where I can have the space to create the things I like and put them together.
Jules Villbrandt BERLIN, GERMANY
In the raw streets of a preserved part of the original Berlin, we meet the photographer and creative consultant Jules Villbrandt who surround herself with piles of magazines with beautiful pictures and the people she loves.
Berlin is not what one would call a beautiful city. But on frosty Mondays with a sun shining brighter than in the tropics, one can easily lose their heart in the German capital. We went to the north-western part of the city, to a borough which has not yet lived through the cycles of gentrification. With its concrete charm and hidden gems, Wedding is as original as any part of Berlin comes.
Not far from the train station, in something as rare as a quiet by-street, we visit the charming home of the effervescent personality of Jules Villbrandt, the creative consultant and photographer who among many of her projects runs the blog Herz & Blut with her sister, Maria-Silva and their third partner Wilkin. Climbing up the astonishing and spacious staircase with traditional wood carvings the sun shines even brighter in her fifth-floor apartment, filled with memories, plants, and love. Here she lives with her boyfriend and father of their nine-year-old son, Justus, and with her studio Maison Palme just around the corner.
How did you end up in Berlin? I grew up in the forest of Brandenburg north of Berlin. I moved here back in 2006 to study business communication at the University of Arts. While I was studying, I was making my own jewellery and selling them on the weekends at flea markets. I think that was the beginning of my life working independently. When I finished studying, I started working as a photographer, and my blog grew very natural from this. How would you describe your dream home? I really couldn’t imagine living anywhere but in an old apartment, the classic Altbau apartments. It would have preserved the stucco, the wooden floors and the moulded panel doors, maybe from the 18th century. It would also have French doors and in general, the preserved expression of classic building style. When one looks around your home, the first thing that you see is that you have a lot of little things, books, and magazines. Yeah, haha. I think I have a bit of a collector’s heart. We haven’t moved around a lot, which also makes the things pile up. I love treasuring memories in little things. Such as a pair of small Bauhaus houses that my sister brought back from Tel Aviv. And of course, I have a soft spot for magazines. Publications like Frankie, Milk, or Lunch Lady are my favourites. Milk Magazine is in French; do you speak that as well? Haha no, that way I think I’m a bit like Andy Warhol. I always only look at the images. Spoken like a true photographer, I guess. Speaking of work, let’s go to see your studio.
We climb back down the stairs. The small business of Herz & Blut just found their new studio, a loft around the corner from Jules’ apartment with just the right mix of industry and beauty. Decorated with loads of plants that all have names and her impeccable taste, this much is clear: This studio is so much more than just a workplace. You call Maison Palme your studio, but when looking around, it also looks a bit like an extension of your living room? Well, yeah. It did serve as the venue for quite some good parties. My sister and I work here, of course, doing the photoshoots and coming up with new ideas. But we’ve also had a pop-up shop here. It has also become a place where people come together. I’m so happy I got this place. You have an office in your living room, but also your studio is right around the corner from your home. How do you balance family life and work? I work a lot, from early in the morning after sending Justus off to
school and often until late in the evening. I enjoy my work, and with the new arrangement of the studio it has worked out so well that Justus comes by and hangs out every day after school. Also, Herz & Blut has for the past few years been a project I work on with my sister. So, in that way, the boundaries between my private life and my work-life are quite blurred. It’s quite clear that you and Justus spend a lot of your days together and share almost everything. What’s your favourite thing to do together when you’re not working? Justus just got his first camera recently, so we do a lot of photography together. We also really like having people over, cooking for them and spending a lovely night together with all of our friends. And the next day, do absolutely nothing but sitting on the couch, listening to a radio play together, or watching a good movie. You work professionally with design
and styling. What makes your heart beat faster when it comes to decorating your own home? I think my view on this has changed in the few past couples of years. I guess, my taste leans a bit towards the vintage vibe, but I mix with new pieces here and there. I like design that is timeless, classic, and that can be seen as an investment. I like twhat feeling of saving up to such a piece for a while and then finally being able to buy it. It adds so much more value than just the right look here and now. I guess, working in the design field, I have developed a sense of what’s going on and who’s doing what and when, but I wouldn’t say that I decorate my home according to fleeting trends. It is just a colourful mix of everything that spoke to me. What does the word home mean to you? Home is wherever Justus is. That’s when my heart is calm, and I feel the best.
Justus recently got his first camera. The two of them go on adventures together, as she teaches her son the art of photography.
Heidi Hofmann Some people have dreams; others live them. Weâ€™re meeting a couple, who, when exchanging their central Copenhagen apartment to something bigger outside the city, moved into nothing short of their dream home. North of Copenhagen, just a few steps from the ocean, the Danish fashion designer Heidi Hofmann of Hofmann Copenhagen lives in a well-preserved gem of a house, together with her husband Claus Robenhagen, director at Lisson Gallery. With a life together, centred around art, travelling, good memories and history, their home is an utterly personal curationand eclectic collection of things that reflect who they are. Everything is about the good story. From the little knick-knacks, Heidi couldnâ€™t resist at the flea market on her last travel, to her inherited vases, and the shoes that take her through her fast-paced life. And naturally, the move from a classic apartment to a house was no exception to the rule. A home out of the ordinary, the house was built in 1894, but later re-designed by the esteemed Danish architect Mogens Lassen.
You’ve spent most of your adult life in big cities like Paris and Copenhagen. Why did you decide to move out of the city? We merely needed something new to happen, a change of scene. I had found myself longing for a garden, a place outside where we could be ourselves and relax, so we started dreaming of a house. We didn’t want to start looking for a house until we’d sold the apartment because finding the perfect place and not being able to buy it, would have been unbearable. We feel so lucky to have even found this house, and I still don’t quite believe that we did. But when we first saw it, there was no doubt in our minds: We had found our dream home.
What makes the house a dream come true? We knew we wanted a house that was original – we could never live in something newly built. Most of the older houses today have been renovated, so it’s hard to come by a house where the original design and architecture is preserved. It was a lucky coincidence that we were even presented with the house, but it’s such a unique house – it oozes of history. The original construction of the housE is intact, and the redesign by the architect Mogens Lassen in 1961 is made with such finesse and sense of craftsmanship.
“It’s hard to come by a house where the original design and architecture is preserved. It was a lucky coincidence that we were even presented with the house, but it’s such a unique house – it oozes of history.”
You have your own fashion brand with distinct designs characterised by patterns and colours. How would you describe your style when you decorate a home? The way I live is an extension of who I am, so there’s no difference between my professional and personal life when it comes to style. How we live mirrors our aesthetics, and that flows through our entire life. Both my husband’s and my work are our interests, and so they make out our life. It all melts together. I would say that our style is eclectic above all. We’re drawn to things with an edge or peculiarities, things with a story and good craftsmanship. I like mixing things of different styles, and generally, need for things to be pleasing to the eye. At the same time, though, it can’t be too pretty.
Both you and your husband work within the aesthetic field and are known for – and have built your careers on – your excellent taste. How do you go about decorating a home together? Claus is much more of a minimalist than I am, but we share a love of original design. We have a strong instinct for what will look good, so if there’s something we like, we’ll make room for it. We just bought a Japanese screen on an auction, for instance, without knowing where to place it. That’s something we’ll figure out as we go along. Claus sometimes jokes about how every relationship has a gatherer and someone who cleans out in it all – I’m the gatherer, no doubt. I love searching for little treasures on vintage and flea markets and will always bring home heaps from our travels.
Do you have anything today that you wouldn’t ever want to live without? Honestly, I don’t want to get rid of anything at all because everything is so full of memories and stories from our life. But of course, there are things close to my heart. That could be the vase that used to be my great-grandmother’s or the little, red decorative hedgehog, which we bought together on a trip to Capri. But also more significant things such as the Tulip Table. It’s top broke several times, and we replaced it each time instead of the, probably easier, solution of getting a new. I don’t strictly style my home. I feel that it comes together very nicely because each little thing is so beautiful on its own and tells a story I cherish. And then there’s all the art, which is ubiquitous in your home. Can you tell us a bit about it? We surround ourselves with art in everything we do. A lot of the pieces are gifts from artists such as Jeppe Hein, Marina Abramovic or Alexander Tovborg because Claus works with them. Today, there are also a lot more artists than designers in my life and network, and it’s such an essential part of who we are. Art is where I go to find new inspiration for each new collection I do. That could be something special in the works of Georgia O’Keefe, just to name one. I’ve never made a collection without finding my original inspiration in an artist. In that way, it’s great to have Claus doing what he does. Because he knows me and what I like so well, he’s great at bringing new inspiration into my work by introducing a new artist.
Your lives are a lot about travelling the world. What does your home mean to you? I’ve lived in many places, and I think I could live anywhere. Our jobs take us places all the time, and everywhere I’ve always thought, ‘I could live here for a bit’. As long as I’m with Claus, I could get used to any place. I don’t feel like I have any particular sense of belonging to any particular city or country. However, no matter where I live, I need to make it my own. The feeling of my home as a mirror of who I am is important to me to relax. The international side of our lives means that many of our things have been brought home from travels, and I love filling our home with memories. It’s essential in my life to go travelling, but now with our new home, we’re looking forward to getting back to the house.
PHOTOGRAPHERS Jules Villbrandt, Salty Interiors, Nailya Bikmurzina & ferm LIVING
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