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.
Logos represent everything a brand stands for, its emotional impact, invoking the imagery and emotions associated with it, triggering and constituting them ad infinituum, Gertrude Stein won’t contradict me here, I hope. Nike would be the very same without its swoosh, though we’d all miss it intensely, it has become part of us, just like the double C created by Coco Chanel, worth millions, our synonyme for style, class and luxury. Logos are all roses to us, the flower of flowers, so don’t change it, don’t ever change it, rules sometimes aren’t made to be broken, so, I dare to ask, who dared to change Christian Dior’s logo? And more importantly, why? Who put the star from Avenue Montaigne’s legacy in question, the man who created a new look, a look new for all eternity? Harper’s Bazaar’s Carmel Snow did not exaggerate, however démodé the famous 1947 Bar dress might be, or not, its allure has stayed on, even survived Hedi Slimane’s turning it upside down when Berlinizing it, the classic letters stamped everything with style, however contradictory to Monsieur Dior’s bourgeois taste some of the later collections were, his logo did its job, emphasising every new idea with the house’s heritage, ennobling every new attempt of modernité, consequently, these classic mixed letters seemed to be made for all eternity – or weren’t they? Who felt the need to capitalise them, in some new indifferent typo, different enough though to scream ‘man over board!’. Obviously, Christian Dior’s spirit has left the building for good, taking the Avenue Montaigne allure with him, and we look at the evil banality that is left.
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?
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?
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. 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.