Hamburg‘s fish market.

One day, strolling through Hamburg’s Neuer Wall, I came, quite by chance, across some deep sea fish. Despite their vivid colours they seemed to be smothering, their mouths gasped for air, their eyes were wide open in fear of death, a very realistic illustration of the stress put on fish by, well, fishing. Now, Hamburg is known for its Fischmarkt, you can find almost anything in the shadow of the 100-year old fish auction hall, but I wasn’t expecting anything like it on display in the Hermès windows on Neuer Wall, obviously, I had come across some fine ichthyology, quite haut de gamme. I was hooked, quite literally, I was reeled in, so to say, and was set free again some minutes later, a little poorer, but with Grands Fonds in its orange box, I was quite at ease, not only had I a new scarf in splendid colours, but also had I learned that there’s a lot to see in the deep blue sea, and that the depicted fish were all still very much alive.

Brides de Gala.

If I were to name a truly successful design, I’d pick Hermès’ Brides de Gala print. It has had more comebacks than Shirley MacLaine and every single one of them was well received. Huge box office successes. This one is my mother’s from the early 1970s. It’s been around the globe twice and has met a lot of dry cleaners. It saw The Godfather not on DVD or on Netflix but at a cinema when it first came out. It was knotted around my mother’s neck the day Richard Nixon took his last helicopter ride aboard “Marine One” after leaving the White House for good. And although the style of politics and movies has changed a lot since then, it hasn’t aged a bit. Just take a look at the quality of that silk.

Have yourself a vapid little Christmas.

They’re everywhere, the KaDeWe in Berlin is filled with these little Santa Claus martians, some kind of old school futuristic kitsch, post-midcentury monsters making it to the homes of metrosexual hipsters, giving me the creeps in any of their various colourings, I want to get away, make it to the fifth floor, to get my favourite cake from Lenôtre, but I’m mesmerized, their shiny empty faces seem to captivate us, we’re spellbound by some vapid features, purposeless design, free of any expression, faces void of character and emotion, insignificance galore, like the people from these TV shows in “Fahrenheit 451”, pointless triviality starting at €39,90, so that everybody can have one, but why would anyone want one? Why? And why do I want one? Why?

Gigantic coffee supplies.

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I need a lot of coffee in the morning. A lot. So I appreciate a big cup that matches my needs. It’s so much more convenient, you don’t have to get up from your couch or your bed or your chair and schlepp your sleeping and aching muscles to the coffee machine, mine is a Braun, plain and simple, designed by Dieter Rams, I have no nerve to deal with Italian laboratories in the morning, I need my peace and quiet, no high-toned gusto with all that steam and noise from shiny technical wonders. However, I do fancy a big fancy cup. KPM, Prussia’s finest porcelain manufacturer (no, it’s not Meissen, Meissen is in Saxony, not in Prussia), came to the rescue with their Kurland “Bürotasse” (Kurland is a design from the 1700s, originally in vivid colours and lots of handpainted flowers, now in basic white), the name’s actually absurd, because I need that much coffee before going “ins Büro”, meaning to my office, not after, what am I to do with such a monstrous cup at the office? At the office, I have nothing but espressos, those from the fancy top notch Italian devices, with all that steam and noise, from really tiny cups, but hey, the guys in marketing never have any clue anyway, have they?

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Numbers.

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Numbers on a watch are easily deciphered, there are only twelve, their design, however, well, not so much. I am most particular about design when it comes to numerals, there are only a few I can tolerate, Roman ones are the worst, only the ones on Cartier’s Tank are really nice, but ever so ugly on a Rolex, I am so very grateful for Arabic numbers, God save Arabia, the Romans are mad anyway, so says Obelix and he is to be trusted, anyway, I do remember very well the day when Max Bill set my mind at ease. His 4, well, this one is almost agony, so let me rephrase that: his four is one of the most beautiful fours I have ever seen, the whole design is so Bauhaus-like, somewhat “midcentury Art Déco”-ish, yet so timeless, plain and simple, yet highly individual, sans chi-chi but with much understatement, and so, some many years ago, when in Cologne to pick up my father at his office, by the way, that famous cathedral, the Kölner Dom, doesn’t cease to amaze me, breathtaking architecture, anyway, that day, I didn’t hesitate at all but had my mother buy me (I’m spoiled rotten, I know) this watch at once.

Think pink. Think Camilla.

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Think pink. That’s what we learned from Funny Face’s Quality magazine’s editor-in-chief Maggie Prescott – Hollywood’s version of Diana Vreeland. Think pink. That’s what I learned from my mother. My life is quite unthinkable without her Pink Camilla china service, designed by Spode in the late 1700s. I grew up with it, took parts of it to my very first apartment, bought additional pieces myself, smashed dozens of cups and plates, some teapots, too, replaced it all, well, not all, only the pieces I smashed after making my own living, after turning 27, so to speak, I still have tea from a broken bouillon cup, its handle broke years and years ago, my doing of course, never anybody else’s, why that is I don’t know, I’m not that clumsy, believe you me, anyway, I had my cornflakes in it right before school and vichyssoise, game and charlotte russe on Christmas eve, lamb was served on it at Easter and strawberry extravaganzas on my birthday, it witnessed tears and laughter, the entertaining of dear friends and social obligation dinners, small talk and passed on top secret information, all over breakfast, lunch and dinner, over coffee, tea, wine and champagne, in summer and winter, in the kitchen, in the dining room, in the garden, in a nutshell, this china is part of my life, and however much I love my own Royal Copenhagen, Pink Camilla will always represent my home, my parents, my background. God bless her.

So, here’s a potpourri of pictures I took over my years on Instagram.

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My life as a Peanut.

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When you look at this picture, you might spot some iconic design work I decorated my home with: one of Marcel Breuer’s little Bauhaus tables from the late 1920s, the lampstand of Wilhelm Wagenfeld’s iconic work from 1924, also called the Bauhaus lamp, the Thonet chair right in the middle which happened to be Le Corbusier’s favourite chair, apart from his own designs, I guess, but still, he knew what he was talking about, and, well, far more ubiquitous, I’m afraid, but still perfect, that MacBook Air from Apple, but all of that is not what this post is about – it’s about the Snoopy mug. That mug is my favourite mug (and don’t get me started on my “Berlin” mug from KPM, so refined, so well designed, all that fine porcelain, but pardon my French, you just can’t sip from it), and however cheap it was, I cherish it because it shows my childhood companion whom I’ve loved since, well, ever. It doesn’t get more iconic, does it? I had Snoopy everwhere in my room, on everything. I wouldn’t eat or drink from anything that had no Peanuts character on it. My Snoopy mugs have always been most dear to me, I had several, the tiniest cup with Woodstock and some his friends flying around it, you might have called it an espresso cup, but in those days nobody north of Trieste had espressos at home, for some time I had my cornflakes in a plastic Snoopy dog bowl, in bright blue, my favourite colour, too, from which I remember a line, that beagle was quite pragmatic a philosopher: “I hate when it snows on my French toast”, I loved that bowl and it sure increased my Kellogg’s sugar intake by a great deal, but then a friend of my mother’s put an end to it. Not because of the carbs and the sugar, no, everybody was quite fine with sugar those days, but no one should eat from a dog bowl, so she said. My mother listened to her and from that day on, only the family cats were to eat from it, what can I say, they had cast pearls before swine!

All these mugs and dishes are gone, all of them broken. I miss them all. But apart from this very new mug with Snoopy on it that I found by chance in Lucerne, I still have a particular pair of shoes, once owned by my friend Miriam, shoes I was so very jealous of, the whole cast from the Peanuts is on their soles. She outgrew them fast and gave them to me, and since I’ve never outgrown my love for Charles M. Schulz’s iconic work, they still have a special place in my apartment.

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The night of the dragon.

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One stormy night in Zurich, I couldn’t sleep, storms make me nervous and expect the worst, floods, fire and being smashed to death by branches, like Ödön von Horvàth was on the Champs-Élysées, I, however, would be smashed to death in some way more modest street, completely unknown to the rest of the world, and nobody would ever quote my way of being one of mother earth’s lesser loved children, one of those that made it on her list of people to be made extinct by bad weather, or, if I should survive this storm, one of the ones that made it on the list of people to be made cranky by severe sleep deprivation. To put it in a nutshell: I was wide awake that night, went online, visited Mr Porter and ordered a shawl by Balmain, the very last they had in stock, object permanence does not occur reliably at Mr Porter, a black and white and, well, mostly grey, cashmere and silk mixture, made in Nepal or Tibet, showing some sort of dragon, which would protect me against all these formerly specified odds of dying in bad weather. How ironic that mother nature made sure I would get that last shawl, maybe she does like me after all…

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A pillow from San Francisco.

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One lazy afternoon, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, through selfies and haute couture dresses, admiring the ones by Cristóbal Balenciaga, the best designer there ever was, through Japanese architecture and perfectly set dinner tables, followed by chickens and ducks in the countryside, when suddenly a pillow on display in Jonathan Rachman’s San Francisco shop made me stop. Just liking wasn’t enough, I had to tell Mr Rachman how I felt about it, so I did just that, by telling him this pillow was missing in my life. Now guess what happened. Some minutes later, Jonathan replied “Shall I send you one?”, and just a week later, that same pillow had crossed the pond, arrived in Zurich, in a gigantic parcel, wrapped in brown silk paper with his store’s beautiful logo, and was joyfully thrown on my couch.

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The most amazing thing was that this pillow’s colours matched the colours of my grandmother’s oil painting, hanging just over it, how marvelous, I thought, but somehow, quite strangely, it made me feel like that rockstar in Woody Allen’s “Hannah and her Sisters”, that obnoxiously uncultivated guy who wants to buy an oil painting in the very same colour as his new ottoman, a way of art reception that made the artist, played by Max von Sydow, throw him out of his studio, telling him to go to hell or something of the sort. Of course I always subscribed to von Sydow’s character’s point of view, thought it an idiotic idea to match art with furniture, one of the things you expect from Melania Trump once she redecorates the White House, until now, now I can relate. Actually, I love this wonderful coincidence. I just hope, my grandmother won’t be insulted by it.

Anyway, I’m not the only one who’s fond of Jonathan Rachman’s good taste in interior design. You find him in Louis Vuitton’s new San Francisco City Guide, too. Mousey is really attracted to him and insisted on showing his awesome portrait on page 209.

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