My friend Jeannette reminded me of this great interiors/lifestyle site based in Berlin called Freunde von Freunden that I’ve been meaning to tell you about for months. If you’re curious to see how lots of creative people live and work in Berlin, this site is for you. There are interviews (some of them in English), video, and most importantly — lots of inspiring interiors to enjoy. I think you may like seeing what old German city apartments look like — at least in the altbau buildings (photos of them are here thanks to Google images) – which basically means “old building” in English but goes a bit beyond that as I’ll get into below…
The altbau is typically very charming as many are Jugenstil dating back to around the 1900’s; I live in an altbau and some of the features in my building include huge windows, a balcony, soaring ceilings and original wood floors — some of us are lucky to have the herringbone hardwood floors which are quite handsome. Also the building entryways are typically grand and very large. Unfortunately, just like old buildings in the states, landlords tend to modernize them by removing the beautiful old details to install more “functional” and very typical things like boring bathroom tiles (replacing the gorgeous old tile), but if one is lucky enough they can still find an altbau apartment that has many of the original details still intact.
I laughed when I saw this bathroom above. These windows are so typical here in most of the government buildings, law firms, doctor’s offices, museums, etc. I guess that this could be only in the big cities, but in my city many old buildings are occupied by businesses. The bathroom above looks just like the one where I had to go to sign off on some paperwork recently. I don’t know, I love these bathrooms. Whenever I am in old buildings I want to photograph the bathrooms. Strange hang up of mine. Perhaps I should do it? Hmmm…
I totally love this kitchen. It’s feminine but not too much… Someday I will have either vintage Belgium or Portuguese tile in my kitchen OR hardwood floors. Help me to get rich and famous so I can fulfill my dying wish, please? Thank you. :)
Oh I like the built-in shelving in this kitchen above and that print, yes, that is a great one. Did you notice the detailing on that antique cabinet? I bet a husband somewhere just about died when his dear frau painted that cabinet white, but honestly I’ve seen them in their original state (regular wood) and they just don’t have the same sex appeal. I know, I know, antiques lovers everywhere are cringing as I speak…
But back to Freunde von Freunden, it’s a terrific site founded by Berliners Frederik Frede and Tim Seifert with beautiful photographs taken by Ailine Liefeld. Some say it is like The Selby, but I don’t see that — I find it to be a different experience entirely. FvF focuses on featuring those who are creative and working in creative industries and not so much on hipsters or how edgy one can be… or how racy even… Though I love The Selby it really does focus on the uber hip which is why we love it whereas FvF tends to tap more into real people and they dig deep into the world of those featured, capturing some of their life through video (not all, but some) and it is Berlin-focused so the local content is especially nice for those who are either living elsewhere but are Berlin-curious or who live in Berlin or nearby, like me, and have no clue who really works and lives in Berlin because like any big city, it’s often hard to find other creative types and typically you either find them at parties, exhibitions or online — at least that is how I find others who are working in creative industries.
You can ask anyone in my life and they’ll tell you that I have wanted a black Kit Kat clock (I call it a Felix clock) since I was 18 years old and saw one in the home of my friend in Boston. I can’t believe I still don’t own one. This photo above sent me over the edge, I may just have to hunt one down… I wish someone would buy the rights and reproduce them in ceramic (the one above is plastic) without the jeweled eyes (the vintage ones are ceramic with jeweled eyes).
There are so many amazing people who live in this fascinating city and because it is still so affordable, it continues to draw artists and dreamers from all over the world which is exciting because it’s rare to find a city that has beautiful property left that is also in good neighborhoods and affordable! Plus, Berlin is great for families and lots of the apartments are quite large so there is room to spread out a bit. I like that for many of the FvF interviews, they show the workspace of the person interviewed, which often means showing two separate spaces — the living space and the office or atelier. They recently interviewed an American artist living in Berlin, Kelsey Brookes, and I found the way he got into art so fascinating and since the interview is in English, I encourage you to read it here because it’s pretty inspiring how this guy found his calling.
I want glass domes and a mirror like that, don’t you?
The photos throughout this post are some of my personal favorites, though you really need to dig in and spend time on Freunde von Freunden because it is a great way to blow off a few hours. :) I am now a regular Freunde von Freunden reader and look forward to seeing who will be featured next.
P.S. This site made me realize that the author of those Japanese Paumes books need to do a Berlin interiors book, huh? I mean, there is none for Berlin yet and why? I haven’t the slightest clue… Especially after visiting this site!
(images: Freunde von Freunden and Ailine Liefeld)