I love to visit Angelika in her bright Prenzlauer Berg apartment, a typical ‘Altbau’ with high ceilings and plastering. I’m greeted with her invincible cheerfulness and a cup of green tea, the finest Japanese Kabuse Tea. While we might chat about our latest fashion purchases, this time I came to ask her about her interior design skills and to admire the new pink couch by Ligne Roset. I’m surprised to find that pink doesn’t have to look girly, instead it really brightens up the living room, you could maybe compare it to the effect of blush, a healthy glow.
Angelika is an expert when it comes to interiors, she loves Scandinavian design but her style is eclectic, she really likes to mix it up. I love the antique Rococo mirror in the kitchen where we sit over tea and cake. It’s the stunning center piece of the room, that you see when you enter and leave her place to have a quick glance at yourself. I learn from her that she doesn’t only care about beauty, but that there has to be function.
“I think one needs a place to withdraw from the hectic life and focus in a chaotic world that offers too many possibilities”
After a long career in publishing books about art and design, it came only natural that Angelika recently took on a new job title as interior designer and decorator, I think this is very exciting news ! She just finished her first project, the ‘Angelika suites’ for the ‘Der Seehof’ hotel in Austria not far from Salzburg.
I’ve become more interested in interiors these last years, maybe it has to do with growing older and not moving around all the time (of course this changed yet again with my Paris move, another story) and it’s also connected to my interest in fashion. I love Angelika’s place especially because it feels so modern and bright and minimal, she really has a special skill and takes endless care of details. And with joy. You will hear her say things like ‘oh today I reorganized my office and my bookshelves, magnificent !’.
You once told me that it is important for someone to decorate an apartment on their own, that it has to be a process. Of course things changed a bit, you are now offering services in interior design and decorating both for private and for commercial projects. I would imagine that you find it important to work closely with the person and the place ?
Exactly, it has to address both, not only the person you work for but also the place. I think it’s very important that the interior stays in relation to the roots and culture where it is located without being submissive to that idea. And of course also the person, the person has to feel comfortable in the end. But I can’t do anything, where I wouldn’t feel comfortable myself, I can adapt myself to someone but there has to be a certain standard of quality. But in general, the people that contact me, understand this 100 percent. I have accumulated over 30, 40 years of knowledge on this field – I was very fortunate to have been involved all my life almost exclusively in art, architecture and design, so I would claim, that I can give good directions. Also because I moved so many times myself and decorated apartments and remodelled houses. I actually remember, in the beginning, I used to move couches around – now when I enter a room, I just know, the couch goes here, the bed goes there. There are certain things to consider like the views or angles or volumes for example. I also believe in certain Feng Shui aspects, like in the bedroom one shoudn’t sleep facing an open door because energy will be lost. And metal beds are not good either even though there are really nice French ones. One should be really tucked away. For me, there are a lot of elements in living that have to work together to form a harmony. I think one needs a place to withdraw from the hectic life and focus in a chaotic world that offers too many possibilities.
Your apartment does feel very serene and bright actually …
Though I have a black corridor
So how did the black corridor happen ?
This apartment is a collaboration with David Adjaye – well, he did the architecture and all the essential and great things and I just furnished it after his work was done. The black corridor, you could say it’s his trademark. When he started to work, black was not a color used in architecture, someone like Richard Meier was all about white, white, white; all architects then, no one worked with black before. I was first aware of David’s work through an article in British Vogue, so I wrote him and flew to London to meet him. He had just finished his house for Chris Ofili who hadn’t quite moved in yet so we visited it together. There was a little yard “garden” which David completely in black stone, even the walls, I think in basalt. There was a bench attached to the walls and in the center just one a jet of water coming out of a little hole in the floor, like a fountain. I was totally flashed, I loved it and that’s when I got it! He also did the artist house of Tim Noble and Sue Webster, and the exterior walls were done entirely in black. It just works. I also say about my corridor is a bit like my chapel, it’s meditative, you enter into this dark room and at the end of it light falls in and reflects from the floors.
You’re very conscious about light and lighting, do you feel that light is more essential than furniture ?
Yes, I think light works a little like a scent on the brain. It’s defining in feeling comfort or discomfort. I think light can alter the mood. I love evening lights during winter, I actually bring out candles, I like it cozy; during summer instead, I want to bring light into the apartment. Light and volume are the most important. Finding the right light also has to do with experience. I learned for example that ceiling lamps are really difficult and that it’s better to place light sources on different levels in a room, then you can play with them, turning them on all at once or just a few. I also have dimmers everywhere.
A few favorite lamp designers?
I love the Verner Panton’s ‘Fun Series’, I’m a fan of natural materials, I love shells. I’m also a fan of Paavo Tynell but I like Lobmeyr’s crystal lamps as well.
How is your process when working on an interior project like the hotel der Seehof in Austria?
I do a lot of research and it’s important to spend some time at the location. I might start with the fabrics, there are thousands of sofa fabrics for example. And thousands of great chairs, lamps, colors. Since I love handicrafts, I prefer to make collages with the pieces and moods, cut and scotch rather than to work on the computer. The rooms at the hotel turned out exactly like on my collages actually! I always pay attention to the roots of a place. For the hotel project I wanted to integrate historic pieces like a baroque cabinet or a Biedermeier desk or even an old milking stool together with contemporary furniture. In general, I don’t like when everything is designed only in one style, 60s, 70s, Art Nouveau, I like contrasts and different styles with different stories together. Over-aestheticism annoys me. When it comes to furniture, shapes, volume and expressive proportions are important and also that they correlate. I like contrast but only when it teases the harmony, it shouldn’t break it. For that one has to choose carefully. Yet, in the design process I don’t only pay attention to beauty, I have to consider practical things like transport costs and long-term value of an investment. I’m definitely a bit Bauhaus influenced, form follows function, at least there has to be a function and not just decoration. This mirror (the Rococo mirror in the kitchen which also serves as wardrobe) is on one hand very decorative but it’s also functional. Just before I leave my place I want to check if the shoes work together with the coat.