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Sustainable flower shop in Berlin

BLOSSOM BY HAUS//KLINIK

If you’re an avid reader of my blog, you know by know that I’m pretty crazy about plants. I love spotting new flower shops around the city and taking a peek inside. But often my high expectations of blooming bliss, are met by disappointing interiors and sad looking over-priced plants wrapped in plastic. Until one sunny Sunday afternoon, when I ventured into Blossom.

I could tell straight away that this store was different. The tasteful interior is a mix of scandi-cool and tropical jungle with a neat displays of mint condition flora. What makes this space so special though, is not only the excellent quality of it’s offering, but their approach to sustainability.


Flower shop in Berlin

The shop in Sredzkistrasse 57 is the handy work of Kristin and Daniel Hallson. Kristin, who’s from Norway, felt dissatisfied by the lack of quality flowers in Berlin. The flower industry is still far behind, when it comes to fair trade and organic production and Hallson would like to change that. So, as a way of scratching her own itch, their environmentally friendly flower shop went from idea to fruition in just under a year.
 
The entire business approach is that of practical, sensible sustainability. All their plants are top tiered produce, sourced from entirely sustainable and eco friendly farms in Germany and Holland. Their focus is thus on quality rather than quantity, and their selection based on what’s available close-by and coupled with a positive impact on lives, the environment and the economy. In addition to beautiful houseplants and ready-made flower bunches, the store also offers three types of pre-made bouquets aimed at businesses as well as sustainably made pots and planters.
 
I wanted to know a little more about this exciting venture. So last week I paid them another visit, to interview the inspiring shopkeeper, and find out what makes Kristin tick:

Sustainable flower shop in Berlin
Sustainable flower shop in Berlin

Q&A

How did you get started with Blossom? What was the inspiration and driving force behind starting this venture?

“We got started with blossom by HAUS//KLINIK after moving to Berlin in 2016. We found that there are a lot of flower shops here, but we missed the way of buying flowers that we’re used to in Scandinavia. We usually buy flowers by the bunch and mix our own bouquets.”

If you could summarise what you are trying to accomplish in one or two sentences, how would that sound?

“We would like show people that it is possible to get very beautiful, sustainably grown flowers, for a reasonable price. Great quality flowers don’t cost that much extra and they will make you happy for longer!”

If there is one change you would like to see realised in the world, what would that be?

“When it comes to the flower industry we would be thrilled if more shops chose quality over quantity. In order to change the industry we need to present the customers with real quality flowers so that they can see, feel and smell the difference. We always buy flowers that are grown as close to us as possible, and only top quality flowers. A rose grown here in Germany smells like grandmas garden and the colours are much more vibrant!”

What motivates you in your work and daily life and where do you find your inspiration?

“The feedback we get from our customers motivates us the most. They inspire us to keep going and their feedback prove to us that we are on the right track. We recently got a complaint from a customer, stating that the quality of our flowers are too good! She wanted to change her flowers back home, but after three weeks they were still looking too good to be thrown away.”

Do you have a brand, icon or business that inspires you? What about them motivates you?

“I’m very inspired by OOhh Collection, the brand of all our pots and vases. They run a fair trade project providing women in Sri Lanka with an income whilst taking care of their children. The pots and vases are all made out of recycled materials and the women make them all at home.”

Sustainable flower shop in Berlin

Sustainable flower shop in Berlin
Sustainable flower shop in Berlin

Do you have a life-philosophy or advice you follow religiously? What is the one piece of advice you could give someone who’d like to be pursue their own business idea:

“It’s all going to be alright, as long as you are able to adjust to the changes. Sometimes it’s harder to think about it than to do it. And besides, you can never know everything in advance, so you just might get started. Most of the things we do, we learn along the way.”

Is there a place you like to escape to? Somewhere you go to recharge or that makes you feel good?

“Since I’m from Scandinavia it’s good to go home from time to time. Seeing friends, family and eating fresh seafood is something I really miss. I grew up next to the ocean so coming home to the smell of a salty sea breeze and sound of seagull is just therapy!”

Sustainable flower shop in Berlin

Sustainable flower shop in Berlin
Sustainable flower shop in Berlin

Your favourite inspirational quote or motto:

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” -Earl Nightingale.

If you could go back in time and meet one famous person, who would you want to meet and why?

“I would go back to see Edith Piaf live in concert in a smokey venue somewhere. She had an amazing voice and character. I don’t even have to meet her, I would just like to hear her sing “Mon Dieu” live.”

What is your favourite destination, and why do you love it?

“That is so hard to answer! I really love the vibe and diversity in Berlin. There is really no need to leave, is there? I also love going to southern Spain where the life isn’t as hectic as in the big city. Malaga is one of my favourite cities in the world. It is a perfect mix of old and modern, beach and citylife. Add some tapas to that and you have everything you need!”

Sustainable flower shop in Berlin


Sustainable flower shop in Berlin

Name 5 of your favourite spots in Berlin for:

Breakfast or coffee:

“I recommend Benedict in Wilmersdorf for breakfast, 24/7! And for coffee I’m gonna be boring and say my own kitchen. I always enjoy drinking coffee at home the most! I guess it’s something about the feeling of slowly starting the day at home.”

Spending a hot summers day:

“Biking around the city and cooling down with at beer at BRLO in Gleisdreieck.”
Spending a cold winters day:

“Either go to some park and play with the kids or spend the day at Technikmuseum Berlin. That’s good fun for kids and grown ups! I could also spend hours at Bauhaus. I love renovating!”

Finding inspiration:

“I love walking around the city looking for niche shops and businesses. It’s always inspiring to see how other people follow their dreams. I don’t even have to like the actual product to be inspired. It’s more about the fact that people do what they believe in that inspires me.”

A night out with friends:

“I would definitely go to Salut in Schöneberg for the best drinks in town!”

Sustainable flower shop in Berlin

There’s just so much to love and like at Blossom. One of my favourite’s is their clever flower carriers from recycled paper. What a pretty gift! I also love that they never throw out old flowers. These are presented as “yesterday’s news” so even if they are a little bit off, they still get to shine in someone’s home. They plan to open a webshop soon, so if you check back in a while I will have the link to that as well. In the meantime, treat yourself and go give them a visit either at Sredzkistraße 57 or the concept mall at Bikini Berlin.

Text & images © Barbara Cilliers

Island retreat

A beautiful cottage on the island of Hydra

Last year, on a trip with my father to Greece, we all agreed that our holiday just wouldn’t be complete, if we didn’t visit one of the many surrounding islands. After hours and hours of research, we finally came across Hydra – one of the lesser known islands just off the mainland, and only a two hour boat ride from Athens.

Hydra Island in Greece
Hydra Island in Greece

In search of that “home away from home” feel, we settled for an AirBnB apartment that caught our attention thanks to its sea viewing terrace, a garden ripe with fruit trees and its promise of an endless summer.

Much to our delight, the crisp, white cottage was tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the town. A lovely respite for those seeking a quiet retreat. Cars and motorised vehicles are banned from Hydra, and we were surprised at how tranquil and peaceful the island was. With the donkeys seeking shelter in the shade and a clowder of cats bathing in the sun, one could not help but feel like time stood still here.

Hydra Island, Greece
Hydra Island, Greece

Inside our holiday cottage, a tasteful interior occupied the space. With a nautical theme throughout the house, the cobalt windows and shutters served as constant reminders of the deep blue water of the surrounding see. The house, undoubtedly homey, felt more like a visit to my favourite aunt’s house, then a holiday apartment thousands of miles from home.

Hydra Island, Greece
Hydra Island, Greece

The kitchen – my favourite room in the house – opens up onto a spacious balcony, perfect for sundowners and evening meals. The marvellous view of the mediterranean, dotted with yachts and colourful boats, provided hours of entertainment as we eagerly watched the annual Oxi Day regatta from a distance. The well equipped kitchen with its enviable gas stove and beautiful marble sink made it an absolute pleasure to cook in – something I don’t usually enjoy in a stranger’s kitchen.


I loved how the mismatched stone tiles (mimicking the colours of the surrounding island terrain) seamlessly tied the inside with outside areas. To the front of the house, a spacious veranda, sunny and bright in the morning sun, provided the perfect spot for a morning coffee or lengthy breakfasts. Down below, the garden was brimming with citrus, offering bright golden lemons, ripe for picking.


Thanks to its use of natural materials like raw stone and wood, the building has an unpretentious air, creating the perfect balance between elegance and modesty.

From here we enjoyed pleasant strolls along the coast line and a (steep) early morning hike up the mountain, to examine an Orthodox monastery – a silent and ancient watch to the harbour below.


Though not as endless as we had hoped for, our summer sanctuary delivered on all its other promises – comfort, taste and repose. We were all a little down cast at the thought of leaving, and subsequently agreed on a prompt return – another visit to this island retreat, with it’s crisp white cottage at the foot of the hill.


Would you like to share your space, your story or your work? Get in touch! I’d love to help you tell your story beautifully, through high quality photography that captures the essence of you, your offering or your brand.

Text & images © Barbara Cilliers

Berlin apartment, by Quiet Studios

Berlin apartment, by Quiet Studios

My friend Daniela Franchechini from Quiet Studios, has designed yet another beautiful studio apartment in Berlin. The prewar building with high ceilings and wooden floors, provided the perfect canvas for her to create a stylish temporary residence, and an absolute gem for me to shoot.

Even though the apartment has a tiny footprint, the space feels vast and spacious thanks to the high ceilings and large windows. Capitalising on the vertical space, Daniela incorporated a custom made Hochbett (German for raised bed). This separates the public living space from the private, and allows for a more cozy and intimate bedroom area, with space for storage or a wardrobe below.


The apartment has a calm and elegant design, a fine balance between aesthetics, comfort and homeliness. The understated elegance, is rooted  in the honesty of the space and the integrity of the pieces. Daniela always chooses objects with character, furnishings that tell a story other than the usual mass market Ikea aesthetic.


The furniture, minimal yet functional, is a mix of midcentury and antique pieces sourced from local Berlin dealers. The bespoke kitchen is basic with open shelves and natural woods. Daniela, collaborating with experienced carpenters, excels in creating made to measure environments that add a hand crafted warmth to her sophisticated spaces.


Her background in sustainability makes Daniela sensitive to human nature and its relation to interiors and design. The individual is always at the centre of her design approach; how a space will affect his or her mood and behaviour, and how they move and interact within in an environment. This allows her to create a true feeling of homeliness, within her calm, minimal spaces.


Would you like to share your space, your story or your work? Get in touch! I’d love to help you tell your story beautifully, through high quality photography that captures the essence of your personality, your work or your brand.

Text & images © Barbara Cilliers

Interview with Photographer Garick van Staden

Home visit with Garick, Lisa, Jude & Lily

It’s a sunny afternoon in Pretoria. Two Hadedas lazily poke at the lawn, slurping earthworms as I make my way through the gate. I’m at the home of Garick and Lisa, the photography duo behind Emotive Art photographers. Lily with her bright eyes and colourful headband smiles gingerly from her mother’s arms as the couple welcome me into their colourful home. Their little boy Jude, full of stories and questions, excitedly steers me towards the patio table, where a smorgasbord of tapas awaits – a feast before our interview ensues.

INTERVIEW

How did you become a professional photographer? What was the inspiration and driving force behind pursuing a career in photography?

“It started when I moved to Stellenbosch in 1998. I was somehow fascinated with taking abstract photos of anything I could find because I moved in creative circles. Not knowing or being serious about it I kind of put it second as I had to survive to pay my rent working as a waiter at a wine farm during the day and a barman/waiter by night and some weekends doing castings in Cape town for overseas tv commercials on some other odd occasion.”

“I partied hard and never thought of following photography as a career. Until I decided that I need to make more money and moved to London where things got pretty real pretty fast. With no degree behind my name I worked as a blue collar worker and with that famous London weather I got depressed as an artist and needed something to release my state of depression. I remembered my camera and started getting into it again.”

“After 18months of working almost 12 hours a day and every second weekend taking photos in between my travels, I finally decided to return to South Africa. Still struggling to survive I made the big leap to pursue photography. The inspiration came later as I discovered my passion for people and how I work and communicate with people I don’t know.”

“My first paying gig was a wedding by the coast of Cape Agalas (most southern tip of Africa). What inspires me about people is their ability to tell stories and then when I look at the images of those people I get a deeper glimpse of their pain and joy. It stirs my emotions in so many directions that it charges me to capture more.”

At what point did you realise or start to feel that working as a photographer was worth pursuing and that it could be a viable business?

“The moment when I was invited to move to Pretoria to be mentored by another photographer because of the potential they saw in my work. It was the gate/opportunity to my future as photographer. Somehow I knew I had to make the sacrifice to leave the beautiful Cape.”

Was there a point where you almost gave up? Tell us about that – and why you kept going nonetheless.

“There were a few times but my love for what I do has kept my head on my shoulders. Every time I feel like giving up I had to make the decision to look back on how I landed up where I am today. That’s when I stop my groaning be thankful for what is given to me and carry on. Its grace that brought me this far.”


Which story, interaction or series of work are you most proud of or affected you the most?

“Sho! There are so many where do I start. There is the story of the shoe repair guy. His name is JOB.”

“I love to talk and sometimes it can be my downfall – where I fail to listen. I wanted to do a story on Job, who works 6 days of the week to feed a family of 6 kids. I pre-warned him a week before that I will be coming to take photos and hear his story.”

“My approach was non photography at first and a lot of talking. Bombarding the poor man with questions and not giving him the chance to speak. I immediately saw how uncomfortable he was and stopped with the questions, picked up my camera and started taking images.”

“It taught me a lot that day as he prepared a piece of paper beforehand after the photos were taken where he paid for a taxi to get his eldest daughter to translate for me his story he read for me in his mother language. As she translated while he read she got tears in her eyes of how father had suffered many trials telling me how he started as an engineer apprentice loosing his occupation and ended up as a Cobbler. It humbled me tremendously and looking still at the images today reminds me of putting myself second when I photograph souls. It’s not about me, it’s who’s in front me.”


What motivates you in your work and where do you find your inspiration?

“Mostly my own family. When someone phones or emails me to tell us that we have captured them authentically, motivates me and my wife. Having my wife next to me as an artist and photographer is beyond epic! My wife’s ability to write something from nothing and make it sound like I am there inspires me.”

“My children on how they can imagine and play having conversations about small things from their world encourages me to be more creative. As a family we try and do things to keep that creative flame burning. Sometimes we put our favourite tunes on in the kitchen and dance. Other times we paint, play music. It’s important for us to use other creative means to inspire our work and passion for what we do.”

Do you have a mentor? Tell us about him/her. If not, who would you most love to learn from?

“I don’t have a mentor I really follow anymore. People can challenge, humble and teach me so many aspects of creation that I don’t have to look any further than that. If there is a photographer I still want to learn from it would be from Annie Leibowitz. She is a brilliant portrait photographer. What I do admire is her approach to people and the patience she has with them. Creativity cannot be rushed.”

Do you have a photography dream goal? A dream job or scenario that you’d love to shoot? Tell us about that.

“If National Geographic wanted me to cover a story for them of a people group in anyplace of the world that would be grand!”

How would you define your home style or style of your home?

“Mmmh that’s interesting. Most of our pieces are hand me downs and items we picked up at antique or second hand shops. We love to explore places and find gems that we can paint, change and reuse. We have a bit of everything. My wife is mostly the decorator, and she has always been drawn to the Frieda Kahlo/African colours , loved the colours and ways things could be so different but yet all blend in. Our home is quite eclectic. We purchased a place that at the time fitted our budget and so it is a continuous work in progress, there is still many things we would like to do, but it takes time.”


What is your favourite room at home and why?

“Our dinning room table definitely. The house was quite divided with walls and we have broken down the walls downstairs and opened up the space. We love the dining room table. As a family we take a big roll of paper, put it on the dining room table, secure the table with binder clips. We then have a permanent bowl in the middle of the table, with all sorts of colour pencils, markers and crayons in it. While we eat dinner, the kids eat and draw. When friends come visit, we put the phones aside and sit and talk and doodle. The dinning room table is our creative space, our talking space and getting together talking about our day and drawing space. WE LOVE IT!”

What’s your favourite piece (of furniture) at home? Why do you love it so.

“Our art deco chairs. After a long day just sitting you can fall asleep in it or early morning sitting in them drinking coffee and just staring into oblivion. Also the mint green cupboard in the dining room space. It comes all the way from Ladysmith in the Klein Karoo and its a treasured piece that reminds me of my gran and special memories as a child.”


What place do you escape to, a place you like to go to, to recharge or an address that makes you feel good?

“Mmmh, we definitely don’t escape enough. I would have to say Bettys Bay has always been a favourite of my wife and I or the Magoeba’s Kloof forest. When we can’t get there, anywhere near the sea and mountains. The sea is an open space, and you feel like you can just leave your thoughts to float along the coast as you watch the waves. The mountains remind me of how small we are in the world, there is something quite majestic about the mountains, makes me think of the bigness of the Creator…humbling.”

Do you have a philosophy in life, or advice you follow to the T? Let us hear it!

“I am kind philosophical by nature but find myself grounded in reading the Bible. The historical backdrop of then and how things have played out in this day and age fascinates me. Having conversations about topics like “what happens after we die”. Deep stuff I tell you.”

One piece of advice you could give to someone who’d like to be pursue their own dream or business idea:

“Just get up and start! Do! Stop talking and try. Even if you fail at least you started putting thoughts to action.”


What’s your favourite inspirational quote or motto. What does it mean to you?

“Love this quote: ‘The truly wise are humble because they know they have so much to learn.’ – Tim Challies. It keeps me sane in a fallen world. I love true biographies of legends like David Livingston who wrote this: ‘Do not think me mad. It is not to make money that I believe a Christian should live. The noblest thing a man can do, is just humbly to receive, and then go amongst others and give.’ ”

If you could go back in time and meet one famous person, who would you want to meet and why:

“Albert Einstein. He knew something and did not share everything with the world. I want to know what that is. An then take a documentary photo of him.”

What is your favourite destination in or outside of South Africa, and why do you love it?

“Namibia. There is something magical about the dessert and dunes. I have always been drawn to landscapes and Namibia is a true favourite of ours.”


Name 5 of your favourite spots for…

Breakfast or coffee: “On my little porch using my pour over and favourite coffee beans or aroma coffee or vintage coffee.”

Spending a hot summers day: “In the pool…one of my favourite things to do is play ultimate frisbee. I found a frisbee you can play with in the pool, so I enjoy being able to enjoy the sun but in the coolness of the water. A good Gin and tonic too!”

Spending a cold winters day: “In front of a bonfire or fireplace, with guitar tunes and djembe drum beats.”

Finding inspiration: “My wife would say watching theatre, for me chilling with close friends around a bonfire (there is something about fire).”

A night out with friends: “Any place that either makes good sushi or serves craft beer and magnificent coffee afterwards.”


Finally, where can we find your work? Any projects you’re working on that you’d like to share with the readers? We’d love to know.

“I am planning to print some of my private work to help stateless children in our country. We adopted a girl and desperately want to register her but our Department of Home affairs don’t want to because she is abandoned by her mother. Long story short, we found that there are 3.7 m children without homes in South Africa. Some of the money will go to a NGO who deals with helping children to be registered as it is their right to be citizens of a country to have education, healthcare ect. This video explains the issue in detail.”

“You can follow us on Instagram. We have two accounts. One for weddings and the other for our corporates:”

Corporate: The visual motive website or @thevisualmotive

Lifestyle family and weddings: Garick van Staden Emotive Art photographers website & instagram

Beautiful Brussels Apartment of Belgian Bloggers

A visit to Matthieu and Bénédicte, the creators of the Belgian design blog Auguste&Claire

My next story on creatives features the young Franco-Belgian couple and authors of the french interior and design blog Auguste&Claire. The creative duo Matthieu and Bénédicte live in the vibrant district of Saint-Gilles. Early spring, I visited them in their beautifully renovated Belgium apartment, to learn more about their blog and about what keeps them occupied in the dynamic city of Brussels.

Brussels through a window


Brussels Apartment

Their home is a beautifully renovated multi-story structure with large windows and high ceilings. Matthieu – an independent architect at pl.rigaux – did a great job at renovating and restoring the space, with careful consideration of the historic character and sensitivity to the original features of the building.


Bénédicte and Matthieu sought items that would compliment the character of their new space. So they started revamping some ikea pieces and vintage or second-hand finds. Soon they moved on to designing and building pieces of their own. Their blog; Auguste&Claire followed as a means to share these creations. Here they could show others how possible it is to make your own quality, personalised furniture & decorative elements, that’s not only cost-effective but durable and timeless. The TARVA dresser hack is one of my favourites. These days the blog also includes their discoveries on design, photography, architecture as well as other daily inspirations.

Brussels Living room

The couple, who met in Barcelona when Bénédicte was doing an internship and Matthieu an Erasmus exchange, makes a fine team. With his architectural understanding of both structure and shape as well as the integrity of raw materials, Matthieu manages to create DIY pieces that transcends your usual DIY feel. Bénédicte, who runs her own marketing & communications consultancy, translates Matthieu’s creations into beautifully styled and easy to follow content for the blog.


As independent business owners I was curious about their approach to doing their own thing and about the obstacles they faced. Apart from the initial administrative barriers, financial security was their foremost concern although both were optimistic and not at all troubled by the notion. Bénédicte pointed to the importance of having a clear vision and sticking to your goal and to make sure that you build up a solid network of support and leads before you go solo.


It’s apparent that these two aren’t ones to follow standard conventions. There’s a saying in Belgium; “de belg heeft een baksteen in de maag”. Meaning, all Belgians have a brick in their stomach. The maxim bears witness to the inexplicable need for every young Belgian to buy a piece of land and build their own house. It’s therefore rather unique for Bénédicte and Matthieu to have settled in the city. But walking down the lively streets of St Saint-Gilles, you get an instant sense of diversity and creativity of the place so it’s with little wonder why the two decided to live here.


I asked Matthieu and Bénédicte what attracted them most about Brussels in general. They unanimously agreed to the city’s cultural diversity. When they’re not out exploring the many vintage and antique markets for forgotten treasures, the cosmopolitain community and it’s rich artistic and creative offerings keep them more than inspired and entertained.


You can read more about the pair and their favourite things to do in the city in the Top Five Tips sections below. This is a new feature to the blog so keep a look out for some cool city tips, advice and inspiration in my future creative domains blog posts. For more DIY, home and design stories, go check out their blog: Auguste&Claire

Top tips from Matthieu and Bénédicte

#1 One piece of advice you could give to someone who’d like to be their own boss:
To envision the life that he/she most want and write down how it would look like. It always helps to clarify our main goals and make them happen!

#2 Your favourite inspirational quote or motto:
Creativity is contagious. Pass it on. (Einstein)

#3 If you could go back in time and meet one famous person, who would you want to meet and why:
We would love to enjoy a coffee with Jacques Brel, Belgian singer and songwriter, and talk about his multiple passions and lifestyle.

#4 What is your ultimate travel destination? One place you’ve been to or would love to go explore?
We’#5 re th5 of bout visiting Japan, probably the nr…t on the list!

Name some of your favourite spots in Brussels for:

Breakfast/coffee: Eating ‘pasteis de nata’ at Forcado Pastelaria

Spending a hot summers day: In the pool of the JAM Hotel

Spending a cold winters day: Early tour at the flea market in Les Marolles and a coffee at PinPon, an old fire station converted into a restaurant

Finding inspiration: Looking at the budgies building strange nests at the Duden Park

A night out with friends: A glass of wine at the evening market in front of Saint-Gilles town hall (every Monday)

Minimalism

Minimalism

Last year I wrote a story on the beautiful round house of Pretoria artist Margaret Nel. The annex featured here, was a later addition to the Le Corbusier inspired circular building. It is a calm, minimalist space, but with the same dose of character one finds in the main house.


The design of the space is undoubtedly minimalistic; an aesthetic I particularly enjoy. The look is very hard to achieve however and I always find it fascinating how something so simple, can be so difficult to create. The words by graphic designer Paul Rand: “Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated” rings particularly true here.


I find the annex to be a great exponent to the minimalist sentiments put forward by seminal designers like Mies van der Rohe and Dieter Rams. As strong advocates against visual pollution and excess, their efforts towards simplicity requires an appreciation for possessions based on their aesthetic quality and integrity.


Throughout the annex, every item is well considered and beautiful. Even the books are attractively displayed – colour coded and visually appealing. By having only a few items in the space, each piece makes a greater statement because it does not have to compete for the viewer’s attention.


There is a dialogue between the items within the space. The nature and character of the pieces make this visual conversation feel lighthearted and humorous, but in a clever, tongue-in-cheek kind of way. I love for instance, how Nel juxtaposes geometric elements like the large black and white checkered pillows and woven rug.


The home is timeless and contemporary at the same time. The blue tiled kitchen, mid century furniture, and notty pine ceilings, are all reminiscent of the 1960’s design. But, paired with the sharp geometry and grey and white walls, the space has a fresh and modern appearance that transcends specific time periods.


If you enjoyed the Annex, be sure to have a look around the main house. The design has a similarly curated aesthetic but with a dash of quirky humour that I am sure you’ll find just as enjoyable.

Story + Photos by Barbara Cilliers

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Elegant apartment in Berlin

Elegant apartment in Berlin

Possibly one of the best things about working as a photographer is that I get to see and experience so many different apartments in Berlin. Sometimes I come across a few homes that are particularly pretty and elegant.

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of photographing a wonderfully bright and spacious apartment near Boxhagener Platz in the vibrant neighbourhood of Friedrichshain in Berlin. The 137 m² square flat is available for rent on Spotahome – an online booking platform that offers thousands of furnished apartments around Berlin and 18 other cities across Europe.


The 2 bedroom, south-facing apartment is sunny and spacious, with an open plan living area and bright white kitchen. The decor is a mix of natural colours, with lots of wood and texture combined with reflective surfaces that open up the space, making it feel even brighter.


While the high ceilings add to the lofty feeling of the apartment, huge artworks on the walls create impact and drama – a nice pairing to the otherwise muted, monochrome colour pallet. The painted face-brick walls and jute rug also adds a rustic quality to the overall modern aesthetic.


I love the use of mirrors in the kitchen, which cleverly draws in the rest of the room, making the space feel even larger. Both bathrooms are also tiled with a slightly reflective mother of pearl mosaics from floor to ceiling. It has a slight pink to green hue, that goes very well with the crisp white and ultra sleek bathtub and basin.


For more information about the property and how to rent it, you can check out the detailed listing on Spotahome’s website. I also really liked this one, in the same vibrant area of Berlin. The bright open space and face-brick adds the same loft-like quality. If you’re looking to move to Berlin, you just may find your next apartment here.

Story + Photos by Barbara Cilliers

The Midlands Meander

The Midlands Meander

A visit to Rawdons Hotel in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa

Every time I’m in South Africa, I try to visit a piece of the country I’ve never seen before. The Midlands is a place I had heard of on many occasions and been wanting to visit for quite some time. The name evokes scenes of misty hills, dark green woodlands and gleaming lakes – landscapes you’re more likely to find in the northern parts of England. But as I soon discovered, this quaint piece of countryside in the heart of Natal, delivers on all of the expectations that is promised by that name.


On our recent road trip through KwaZulu-Natal, we decided to pass through the Midlands, staying at Nottingham Road – a small village tucked away between rolling green hillocks of Mooi Rivier and the foothills of the Drakensberg. The area, also known as the Midlands Meander, is less than a two hour drive from Durban, and very easy to reach by car.


During our visit we stayed at the Rawdons Country Hotel, a tranquil estate with an old English charm. Surrounded by wide green lawns and massive oak trees, the hotel offers a breathtaking view of two lakes and the pine woods beyond. All day long the lake is full of life, with waterhens hopping on the water and ibises fishing for food. At night, while the finches disappear inside nests among the reeds, the evening air becomes abuzz with an orchestra of toads.


Tucked away between the trees at the edge of the water is the Lake House. Perfect for larger groups or families, the house offers two spacious rooms that open onto a semi private lawn. The interior is an elegant mix of antiques and country-cottage furnishings. My favourite was the kingsize canopy bed, the wood-burning fireplace and romantic bathroom with clawfoot bathtub.


The Rawdons Estate also houses the Boars Head Pub, an independent brewery known for its naturally brewed ales and lagers. Here one can sample an array of quirky-named ales like tipsy tiger or pye-eyed possum, as well as their very own gin and tonic on tap. If you think you’ve quaffed quite enough, you can brim your belly from a hearty selection of pub dishes like beer battered hake (my favourite) and hunters pie.


The Rawdons Hotel is the perfect base from which to explore everything the Midlands has to offer. Or for a simple day of relaxing, just curl up with a book next to the pool. Apart from the beautiful scenery and luxurious atmosphere, what I appreciated the most about the hotel, was their friendly staff and their efforts at making our stay feel super special.

My favourite spots in the Meander for

Breakfast: The Blueberry Café

Coffee: Terbodore coffee Roastery

Browsing & shopping: The Piggly Wiggly Country Village and Ground Cover Leather company.

Lunch: Chicken pies from the Windmill Country Stop

Beers followed by dinner: The Hogs Head Brewery

Story + Photos by Barbara Cilliers

Interview with Carla Erasmus

Carla Erasmus | Cofounder of Bofred Feature Furniture

The air is warm and prickly as we manoeuvre our rented Hyundai up the steep streets of Cape Town’s city centre. Up ahead, the large flat body of Table Mountain towers like a majestic monument. Behind us, the deep blue water of the atlantic glimmers in the sunlight. It’s a bright and sunny day in Southern Africa, and we’re on our way to meet Carla Erasmus, co founder of Bofred; the feature furniture brand based in Cape Town. Carla has warmly agreed to an interview and invited us to her home, where we’re gingerly greeted by her curious, and oh so photogenic dog, Frankie.

Dog on a couch
Homestory with Carla Erasmus, owner of Bofred

INTERVIEW

How did you get started with Bofred? What was the inspiration and driving force behind starting your own thing?

“Boredom really… I got bored with working really hard for other people and executing their creative visions. I had my own. That gave me confidence to take the leap. I was stuck in a 8-6 job. Underpaid and creatively frustrated. That’s enough to make you be brave enough and start your own thing!”

At what point did you realise or start to feel that Bofred was worth pursuing and that it could be a viable business?

“I still don’t know. We have three years behind us. I work really hard, I give it my all. I’m an early riser and a confident business owner. That must count. I think it’s a viable business because I LOVE my job. I strive for perfection and originality & creative indulgence… We have many opportunities ahead of us that excite me.”

INTERVIEW WITH CARLA ERASMUS
INTERVIEW WITH CARLA ERASMUS

Was there a point in time where you almost gave up? Tell us about that – and why you kept going nonetheless.

“I want to give up when I realise I could make more money… I made a lot more before I had my own company. But money isn’t everything you know… and I am not giving up…”

Which piece that you developed, are you most proud of?

“The Arch Table Lamp. I LOVE it.”

What motivates you in your work or where do you find your inspiration?

“I go to lots of art exhibitions. Im an artist and a photographer – and not strictly a designer. My designs are just sculptural yet practical items for the home. I find most inspiration in art and music.”

Bofred-Homestory-with-Carla-Erasmus
Homestory-with-Carla-Erasmus-from-Bofred-

Do you have a mentor? Tell us about him or her. If not, who would you most love to learn from?

“Oooooh, tough one. I perhaps need a mentor. I read a lot about other small businesses and their success stories – so I absorb what other creatives are doing around me. So I can learn from their mistakes and make insightful decisions in my business.”

How would you define your home style or style of your home?

“It’s lots of found items from travels and heirlooms. Lots of art and photographs and books and textures. I don’t really follow trends – I just buy what I like and I can use in my home. Everything has a story, I know where everything is from, when why and how. Nothing is bought in sets of 8. Nothing matches the drapes. As one evolves – as one should – I let go of things and replace the insignificant purchases.”

Do you have inspiration sources that you apply to styling your home?

“Nope. I get influenced with work research and work and home collide. But I am a huge fan of young London based interior designer, Studio Ashby.”


What is your favourite room at home and why?

“The little corner seat at the front of the house. It’s a built in window seat. Trees being the view and dappled sunlight. Morning coffee / Friday night wine corner / Saturday morning meditation / Sunday lazy reading nook.”

What’s your favourite piece at home? Why do you love it.

“I bought a Staffordshire ceramic dog at a SPCA in Underberg, Kwazulu-Natal, and it’s my favourite possession. It cost nothing, literally I think R20 – but I gave a large donation because I’m an animal activist and it would only be fair. They did not realise the value. I LONG for a pair. My favourite pieces is the ART in my home, it grows and move around in the house… so it’s ever changing and ever pleasing.”

Do you have an architect, artist or an iconic designer who inspires you?

“Jacques Grange! ( interior designer ) & Eileen Grey // Cy Twombly as multi-disciplinary artist & Giacometti. No, too many to name. List is endless.”


What place do you escape to? A place you like to go to, to recharge or an address that makes you feel good?

“I go back “home” where i grew up – Durban – every three months. I visit my parents, my sister and her family. That’s solid quality time. And I can just be.”

“For me to recharge, take me to a secluded cabin, no electricity, no signal, no instagram – no evidence that I existed in that space – a waterfall…. my dog and my husband. Western Cape has endless magical spots such as these that I enjoy with my family and friends.”

Do you have a philosophy of life, or advice you follow religiously?

“Go to bed early. Go to bed with an empty mind. Go to sleep relaxed. Talk to your dog, your partner or read an easy read. Listen to music. Laugh. Get off your phone. And wake up early. Have a coffee, go for a walk, make a healthy breakfast and start work bright and early!”


Name one piece of advice you could give to someone who’d like to be pursue their own dream or business idea:

“Be Brave. Be original and have fun!”

If you could go back in time and meet one famous person, who would you want to meet and why:

“Geogia O Keefe. she had a lot of dogs. We would hang out and paint in her garden.”

What is your favourite destination outside of South Africa, and why do you love it?

“I haven’t travelled enough… but I loved travelling to Sri Lanka for a friends wedding – and we backpacked for three weeks after that…”

Name 5 of your favourite spots in Cape Town for…

Breakfast or coffee: Hemelhuijs.

Spending a hot summers day: In Yzerfontein sipping crisp Chardonnay at my mother in law’s home and taking a quick sunset dip in the freezing Atlantic!

Spending a cold winters day: If it’s raining: At home, with snacks and documentaries. If it’s just cold: Hiking up the mountain and enjoying the views and the fresh air!

Finding inspiration: At an art exhibition – hopefully by myself – on a saturday morning, SMITH or Stevenson Gallery.

A night out with friends: A night IN with friends. Or greek in the courtyard at Marias.

For more info about Bofred and the beautiful furniture they make, take a look at their website and instagram.

Nosh Deli in Berlin

Nosh Deli in Berlin

I do not write about restaurants all that often. And there’s a really good reason why. In order for a place to make it to these pages, they have to meet three specific criteria. Number one is off course a beautiful interior with a great energy and atmosphere. Secondly, the food needs to be better than my mom’s cooking. Finally the service has to be really great. Trust me, in Berlin, this trifecta is not that easy to find.

But, in the heart of Schöneberg’s Rote Insel, a couple of blocks down Leberstraße, there is a tiny deli, that ticks all three of these boxes. Around two and a half years ago, owner Erdal Balli, transformed the garage that once stood here, into the vibrant eatery now called Nosh.

Nosh Deli in Berlin

Nosh Deli in Leberstraße
Berlin Restaurant Nosh

Balli, who used to own Stellwerk down in Steglitz, is no stranger to the culinary scene. You may recognise his surname on a few kebab shops around Berlin, owned by Balli’s family. After 12 years of running quite a sizeable restaurant, Erdal decided to scale down to a smaller, more flexible eatery, to make more time for his family. His head chef from Stellwerk, now commands the kitchen at Nosh, where food from all kinds of cultures come together.

The menu is a cosmopolitain mix of influences; from Mongolian Beef Pasta to Ukrainien Wareniki. Derived from the Yiddish “naschen” which means to snack or nibble, the name Nosh is a testament to the restaurant’s east-european jewish influence and Balli’s own connection to the Russian and jewish communities in Berlin.

Nosh Menu

Restaurant Nosh in Schöneberg
Beautiful Decor at Nosh

When I mention to Erdal how I always notice fresh flowers whenever I’m there, he quickly attributes it to his wife Viji’s keen counsel. She coincidentally runs Mokalola cafè next door and makes sure that Erdal keeps his finger on the finer details.

Clearly though Erdal has quite an eye for good design himself, and laughingly admits to a slight obsession with beautiful chairs. The tasteful interior is the result of his own directives; from the mid century chairs he sourced from e-bay, to the tables he had custom made. The wonderful factory lamps from a former GDR factory, he salvaged, cleaned up and had rewired. They now serve as beautiful statement pieces above each table.

Halloumi salad from Nosh

Nosh Deli in Berlin
Nosh Berlin

The restaurant recently extended their open hours from 12 in the afternoon on Monday through to Thursdays. The rest of the week you’ll find them open between five and eleven. During warmer summer days, you can enjoy your food on the outside terrace upstairs. But you don’t have to wait for better weather to nosh on a delicious meal. Even on a cold winter’s evening, their Halloumi salad remains one of my favourites.

Find Nosh here:

Leberstrasse 21, Berlin, Germany (See on map)

Follow them here:

Nosh Deli Facebook Page

Berlin Nosh

Story + Photos by Barbara Cilliers