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Interior Designer’s Feng Shui apartment in Berlin

Berlin based interior designer Line Casselman on design, sustainability and a little bit of Qi.

I found designer Line’s work on Instagram, and it was a little like love at first sight. When I knocked on her door a few days later for an interview, I thought it curious (and awesome!) how easily people welcomed me into their homes. But then Line opened the door, and at meeting her for the first time in person, I felt like we could just as well have been friends forever. Stepping into her beautiful apartment, I simply felt so comfortable and at home. Whether it is Line’s welcoming demeanour and warm energy, her lovely collection of plants or her clever use of Qi, I cannot say. All I know is I did not want to leave and I can’t wait to visit her again. Here is her story:

Tell us a little about Studio Mosbech.

“I started studying psychology and did a bachelor in economics. After that I worked in marketing for a short time but I wasn’t really happy. Finally I realized I wanted to do something more creative. I then did my Master’s degree in Interior Design in Italy. I couldn’t be more happy that I chose this career. It was a path of learning and growing. Now looking back, everything makes totally sense to me. It just took me a couple of different steps to get where I am at the moment. Finally, it all comes together. Now I use all my skills combined in Feng Shui, which is all about the individual human being and it’s environment. This is just perfect for me.”

“With Studio Mosbech I aim to create individual spaces that harmonize with its habitants needs and wishes. On top of that I match it up with the specific rules of Feng Shui. I love bringing joy to people by creating these spaces and turning apartments or houses into individual homes that express the owners’ personality. The same applies to restaurants or shops and their owners.”

Beautiful apartment of Berlin based interior designer
Interior Photography Berlin Interior photography and design

I love the calming energy in your house. How would you describe your style and how do you create such a tranquil mood?

“I’m definitely influenced by my environment and my Danish roots, but I don’t consciously follow trends. I love imperfection and mixing different styles. One style or direction can get very boring in my opinion. Everything I own has a story and some pieces I’ve had for many years from travelling, or handmade by my grandpa in Denmark.”

“I think each home grows with time. Mine for sure did. For me it’s definitely the individual touch that makes a house a home. I love earthy tones, natural materials and greenery which I also mostly use in my projects. This creates my very own personal retreat.”

What does sustainability mean to you and how do you bring it into your design practice?

“We have to realize how our decisions influence our environment. It is important to understand the context between choices and impact. For my work it means to use alternative sustainable products. My goal is to create designs that will last for years rather than following quick trends that will be gone in a minute. There are different levels to sustainability. One is the obvious like using decomposable, recycled or second hand products. The other level has to do with my workflow. I try to keep printing to a minimum by using digital concepts, invoices and contracts for example. But of course there is always room to improve.”

Studio Mosbech
Berlin Photography Interior Designer Line Casselmann

Are there any other brands, companies or designers with a sustainable approach who inspire you or where you draw inspiration from?

“There are so many incredible people out there that want to make our world better. I love to follow dariadaria from Austria. She really knows what she’s talking about when it comes to sustainability. I also really love the design and company values of skagerak.dk – like responsible production and long-lasting designs. Regionally I like johanenlies and their way of reusing old wood and metals. Kiezbett is also really nice. I like the design and that they only use regional wood for their products. I appreciate everyone out there who try to take responsibility and care for our world. This inspires and motivates me to do the same.”

Where do you think the industry could still improve?

“I feel like the furniture industry is adapting to the fashion industry. It is fast-paced in terms of trends. As a result, the quality is not as high as it used to be. I think we should all decrease our consumption of poorly produced products. But there is a lot of development. Recycled materials and totally new sustainable materials are playing a much bigger roll now. Nikolaj Thrane for example, introduced furniture that were made out of sea grass at this years Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair. Other brands built chairs out of recycled plastic from broken fisher nets. There are many alternatives coming up. So I hope the big players will take responsibility and jump on the environmental bandwagon.”

Beautiful baclcony of interior designer in Berlin

Your house is filled with beautiful plants. Do you make use of plants in your work for clients as well? What role would you say they play in creating atmospheric spaces?

“Thank you! I love plants! Ha ha ha. Again it depends on their individual desires. Every human being is individual and for my job it is important to take that into account. I know that not everyone likes to take care of plants. For me, plants bring life to a place and make it cosy. Not to mention that some plants improve the air you are breathing. Other plants use your air, so in Feng Shui you wouldn’t really place plants in your bedroom. That is where I make an exception. I just have too many! Ha ha ha. (But I definitely chose the ones with positive impact for the bedroom.)” 

Do you have a favourite species?

“I love the different varieties of calatheas because of their pattern and colours. The leaves are alive and are closing for sleeping at night. You can really see them breathe! How cute is that? I especially have a heart for special plants and nicely coloured leaves.”

Living room of Berlin based interior designer Livingroom details
Apartment of Berlin based interior designer Line Casselman

Tell us about all the wonderful old things in your home – what’s the story behind them all?

“Our families pre loved most of the things we own. Our kitchen table and cupboard are from my grandparents. It was the first kitchen furniture they had together. And now it’s the first of my boyfriend and mine. I hope it is a good omen for our relationship since they were married for 65 years, ha ha ha. I also own some nice wooden furniture my grandpa in Denmark made himself in his little studio back in the day. I’ve loved the smell of wood ever since I was a little girl watching him work. In general, I love to give old things a new life and home. But beside the fun factor, I think it is necessary to work with what we already have around instead of producing and consuming new stuff.”

Do you use vintage and second hand objects in your work as well? Where do you go to find the best items?

“It depends on my clients’ needs and wishes, but I would always recommend second hand and vintage before buying new. Especially when I work with smaller budgets it’s compelling to have to explore the secondary market to get similar appealing results. It’s so much fun to get the best out of the budget and hunt down forgotten treasures and bring them to new shine. I really like eBay Kleinanzeigen, fleamarkets and some antique retailers. But Berlin can be a bit tricky sometimes. Prices are quite high so you have to be quick and always have to keep an eye out. But if you go outside Berlin you can still be lucky to get nice stuff. Sometimes it’s even worth it to look on the streets. You can find real treasures”. 

Beautiful tranquil bedroom
Home of interior designer Line Casselman

What inspired you to study Feng Shui? Tell us a little more about the practice.

“Many people consult Feng Shui consultants because they have a problem to solve like a bad night sleep, illness or problems in a relationship. For me it was pure interest. I finished my Master in Interior Design and after some projects I realized it just didn’t feel complete. It felt right to pair my Interior Designs skills with the holistic approach of Feng Shui.”

“Feng Shui can bring harmony to your environment and positively turn the energy around. In a Feng Shui consultation I’ll visit your home and measure the cardinal points. After getting some information such as the birthdates of all the residents and the year of moving in, I can start with my calculation. As Qi (a kind of energy) changes over time, the date you moved in is important to calculate and define the changes of Qi. Afterwards I’ll recommend an interior concept that fits your personal needs. Of course there are many other solutions for individual problems (as I mentioned before) but this would go to deeper into the topic.”

How long did it take and how has it changed your design approach?

“The first course takes around 4-5 months. But it is a lifetime of learning and a process after all. Like Yoga and Qi Gong are working with the energy inside yourself, Feng Shui is working with the energy of your surrounding. Every yogi out there will agree, that there is always more to learn. Taking that into consideration it definitely changed my point of view how to build up design. Where to place furniture is not only an aesthetic question. It also has impact on the human being living there. With Feng Shui I can take actions to bundle energy and lead it in to a positive direction.”

Interior Details Interior design photos Home office of interior designer based in Berlin
Home office of interior designer Line Casselman
Interior details Interior details

Entrepreneurial life can be a tough at times. What would you say is the hardest thing about being your own boss and how do you beat those blues?

“Actually I even love to do my taxes! Ha ha ha. I really appreciate that I can work for myself, and I am very thankful, so I am happy for all the things that come with it. But getting in touch with like-minded people and proactively looking for clients is sometimes hard for me. I am not really the networking person. But I try to overcome myself. It actually is not that hard once you dared.”

Any words of wisdom or mantras you live by? 

“Don’t be afraid of what might happen. Everything that happens will make you grow. Something like that… One of my life lessons is that sooner or later every experience makes sense somehow. Even negative phases in your life will turn out as the most positive growing after time.”

Interior design details
Interior photography Interior photography

Do you think individuals can live more sustainably? Where would you advise we begin?

“I think most of us can do more than we already are. We have to. It is important to always reflect and stay informed. But I also think that we shouldn’t be too perfectionist. If every human being does a little, in total it is a lot. We cannot change from one day to the other. It is a process for which awareness is essential.”

“In short term I would advise to avoid producing too much waste. To begin with always having your own carry bag when shopping. Checking out your weekly market instead of buying plastic wrapped cucumbers. Make your own sparkling water instead of buying it in plastic bottles. If you take coffee to-go, take your own cup.”

“In the long term there are different steps you can take: try sharing vehicles. Use green power providers. In terms of Interiors I would always recommend to check out second hand first before buying new. There are also many sustainable/decomposable household items you can use like sponges made out of agave, wooden toothbrushes, reusable paper-towels made out of bamboo, etc. There are a lot of nice and well-designed stuff out there especially in such a varied city as Berlin.”

“Try to reflect and consume what you really need. It is always a balancing act between self-fulfilment and ecological responsibility. Always keep in mind what makes you really happy. This sounds way to know-it-all but a couple of years ago I didn’t apply these standards myself. As I said, it’s a process and it begins with awareness. There are a lot of easy steps to begin with. I hope we (mankind) will do better in the future.”

What is your favourite thing about Berlin and how does it inspire or influence your creativity?

“There are so many creative and cool people living here. We all grow and inspire each other and there are so many super nice places to discover. But it’s also overwhelming sometimes. Berlin is growing and changing all the time and it’s hard to keep track of. It is always full of humans and it can be very hectic. I am very sensitive which makes it necessary to have a place to calm down in the end of a day. My home helps me retreat. There is room to breathe and dream and to restore my creativity.”  

Whats your favourite spots in Berlin for:

Breakfast or coffee: Two And Two in Pannierstraße, delicious cake and a nice selection of coffee.

Spending a hot summers day: At one of the beautiful lakes Berlin and Brandenburg have to offer.

Spending a cold winters day: At home with candles, tea and self-made cookies.

Finding inspiration: Everywhere.

A night out with friends: Drinking cocktails at Herr Lindemann. They use healing herbs as ingredients. They really have the best.

Interview with interior designer Line Casselman
Interior design photography Kitchen details

For more information about Line and Studio Mosbech, have a look at her website and don’t forget to follow her on Instagram @studiomosbech.

Text & images © Barbara Cilliers

Berlin Plant Swap

Berlin Plant Swap with The Boat Kaffee

On a surprisingly fresh July morning we made our way to Neukölln, ready and excited for Soonafternoon’s very first event; The Berlin Plant Swap at The Boat Kaffee. 

Even though the day started out cold and windy, our first visitors arrived shortly after we finished setting up. Soon we had a great selection of plants ready to be swapped. In addition to our assortment of plant species, we had people and cultures from all walks of life – from South Africa to Nigeria, Canada to Ireland, the United States and Italy and even a few native Berliners.

Also there, were the plant-care specialist from Horticure – to share some tips and insights, talk about general plant care and to mingle with fellow plant enthusiasts.

The lovely Alicia and Louise from Grüneo stopped by as well – sharing their beautiful prototype with the crowd and getting some feedback on their lovely designs.

Inside, The Boat Kaffee boss ladies, Annie and Thea, was hard at work keeping the crowd energized and fed, with their delicious coffees and mouth watering cakes. Even Georgie (the cafe’s eight-year-old adopted mutt) kept us entertained with her nonchalant mug and cheeky spirit. 

Berlin Plant Swap © Soonafternoon

Some of the species I managed to make a record of were Chlorophytum Comosum (Spider Plant), Echevaria (Succulent), Epipremnum Aureum (Golden Phothos), Monsteras (Swiss Cheese Plant), Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily) Aloe Vera, Tradescantia pallida (Spiderworts), Pilea peperomioides (Chinese Money Plant), red-brown as well as colourful Coleus and some edible plant varieties like Celery and Tomatoes.  

Berlin Plant Swap © Soonafternoon

At the end everyone went home with a wonderful selection of new species. If you are keen to join us for the next one – which there will certainly be! – sign up to our newsletter to stay in the loop and be notified as soon as the next one comes around. Thanks again to everyone that participated!

Text and images: Barbara Cilliers © Soonafternoon

Supporting communities through sustainable architecture

WEbuilding: Supporting communities through sustainable architecture

Life is filled with unexpected synergies. A few weeks ago I came across a story of architect Diébédo Francis Kéré and a school he built in Burkina Faso. I was drawn to his work not only for its beauty, but also the purpose it served. Hailing from South Africa, I’ve always been confronted with and troubled by the poor states of schools across our continent. I felt inspired by his pursuits and thought, I’d like to interview someone like him one day. Two days later I found a message in my inbox. It wasn’t from Kéré off course, but indeed another Berlin based architecture practice – an NGO in fact – called WEbuilding.

Together with their team of volunteers, the WE Building founders Laura Gómez Agudelo and Ivan Rališ, have a surprisingly similar objective; that is to build schools in impoverished communities and doing it through sustainable practices. They invited me to spend a morning at the vibrant Sari-Sari space they share with Nowhere Kitchen in Neukölln, to learn more about their work and to talk about the beautiful school they just finished in Ghana. This is their story.

Tell is a little about WEbuilding and how it all started.

Laura: “While I was at the university I discovered one can actually practice architecture in an NGO environment and help people in need. I was fascinated by the idea and as soon as I graduated I left to Ghana, where I worked at a small NGO doing the site management for the construction of a youth center.”

“A few years after, while already living in Berlin, I got in contact with that same NGO and they told me that they bought a plot, and that the community was planning to build a school.”

“We initially got involved only to design the architecture project, but very soon we figured we could try to find financing in order to build it. That required us to register an official non profit in Germany to be allowed to apply for any and that’s how WEbuilding was born.”

What is the drive behind the NGO, why do you do it and what keeps you going?

Laura: “I have no other option. Ever since that first volunteering job in Ghana it became my passion. Over the years I’ve gotten “distracted” with some other work, but somehow I always come back to this “architecture to help people” world. There is nothing more interesting that I could do and I feel extremely grateful to live in an environment that allows me to do it. Currently I work 28 hours a week in my paying job, and I devote the rest of the time to work in WEbuilding.”

Tell us about the first school in Damang, Ghana. Why did you decide to build it sustainably and how did you manage that?

Laura: “Even though our primary goal is the social part, and that meant building a school for the children in  Damang, there is always a decision on which materials and construction techniques to use. After a few months of living in Ghana, I realized local construction in the rural areas (which is made out of natural materials) doesn’t seem to be liked by the locals. We found that it’s a pity that a country where once foreign people came to learn about earth construction mostly turned its back on its own tradition. We thought we could use some more modern ideas and still be able to use natural and sustainable materials so that the maintenance is easier and the quality of the construction remains as high as it would be by using the “normal” materials.”

“We managed to build it, both sustainable and unsustainable parts, only with the support of a lot of people who volunteered their time and expertise to get it done. Although we had very experienced local contractors doing most of the construction work, in order to build everything exactly as we planned, we needed to do a lot of supervising of our own. While we were running things from a distance via Whatsapp and endless emails, our colleague Masa temporarily moved from Leipzig and spent six months in Damang overseeing the construction. Various other volunteers, mostly architects, spent around a month each on-site and helped out with whatever was needed.  Most of us gathered for the school opening last September and it felt great to share that moment together.”

What does sustainability mean to you as architects and how do you apply the thinking to your process?

Ivan: “Sustainability is the buzzword nowadays, which is great, but in our field it should be taken with some moderation and adjusted to the project and the location. The most important thing is to find out which “sustainable” materials are available locally and then try to use that and not force something just for the sake of it.”

“We try to find some middle ground here and combine, as we did in the Damang project, using concrete, earth blocks and wood together. Sometimes being too sustainable could actually be unsustainable.”

Is building in a sustainable way harder than using other conventional methods? What makes it so?

Ivan: “Building sustainable requires a much higher level of knowledge from everyone in the design chain, especially the builders. It’s easy to say “let’s build this from rammed earth and old car tires” but if there is no one on site that actually has the know-how then it just doesn’t work. Taken all this into account, sustainable often means it is not cheap.”

“In our case we were lucky to meet Samuel, while doing our first “material scouting” trip back in 2015, and his fairly advanced compressed earth blocks that he does with a custom-made hydraulic machine. We immediately knew we had our main material and it is the one that gives the recognisable look to the classrooms.”

“These blocks are nothing new, they have been around in the 1950s in South America, but if there was not a “Samuel” doing them, one hour away from the school site, we would probably have to use something else.”

What was your biggest challenge in getting the first school built? How did you overcome this?

Laura: “It was a long process with a lot of challenges, but it always comes down to money. Getting the project funded was  by far the hardest. With most other things it is in your power to accomplish the goals – be it from the whole administrative puzzle of registering a non-profit organisation in Germany, or carrying out the whole project management over WhatsApp.”

“But when it comes down to money applications, the only thing you can do is be stubborn and persistent and keep at it until you get a bit lucky. Took us around two years to finally manage it.”

School in Damang. Images © WEbuilding

Going through the process of building the school in Ghana, were there any surprises or things that happened that was totally unexpected? Even good surprises count here. If any.

Ivan: “Every day was a surprise! One day water well dries out,  the other cement mixer brakes, then morning work starts, and we find a bunch of little kids’ footprints in our freshly poured concrete slab and so on. And apparently a 10 mm steel bar is called a 12 mm in Ghana. First we though we were cheated, then we realised it is a common practice of naming things.”

“The most pleasant surprise was to actually walk in those classrooms and realise we’ve all actually managed to pull it off. We were around only at the beginning of the construction, we followed it through photos and daily conversations. But to actually open the door and see that it turned out even better than we thought, was pretty amazing.”

What are you working on next and what are the biggest challenges you now face with this next project?

Laura: “We have a few ongoing projects. Another school in Koforidua, Ghana, where the projects are already done, and we’re applying for funding. A youth center in Douala, Cameroon, two potential school projects for indigenous communities in Colombia and the project that’s taking most of our time at the moment – Humbi Farm in Mozambique. The local NGO wants to make their existing children center more self sustainable by complementing it with a large permaculture farm, together with various buildings – greenhouse, workshops and basic volunteer accommodation.”

“Beside architecture projects, we are also trying to start a regular program for children workshops, and try to bring closer the culture of the countries we’re working in – currently Ghana, to the kids in Berlin.”

“The biggest challenge right now is trying to make our WEbuilding team bigger and incorporate more volunteers, since in order to do all those projects we definitely need more help.”

In your opinion, where is the biggest deficiency in architectural practices in the drive towards sustainability?

Ivan: “Sustainable architecture is mostly related to organic materials. There are big challenges that come from that. As an architect, designing buildings that use materials like earth or straw requires a lot of knowledge that you normally don’t get at a university. You have to investigate on your own, take various courses, do workshops, or if you don’t have that knowledge or time to learn it yourself, collaborate with people that know more than you. Once it comes down to construction, you actually need people on-site that know what they are doing and how to build with such materials. Or you need someone to teach everyone involved how to do it. All that should be taken into account  even before starting the design.”

“And after all that, comes the hardest part, that doesn’t even have anything to do with architecture – maintenance! I would say maintaining public buildings is a big problem almost everywhere in the world – there is always a budget to build things, but rarely do you see budgets mentioning maintenance. So, now when your building is not completely made out of concrete that will stay there no matter what for generations, but rather out of earth or bamboo, you need local people with the knowledge and resources to take care of it year after year.”

© Image: WEbuilding

How would you propose to solve this if at all solvable?

Ivan: “Little steps. Building more projects like we did, which use slightly more alternative methods of construction. But these sustainable alternatives shouldn’t be significantly more expensive, otherwise they will never catch on. Sustainable architecture here in Europe is a different thing, economically based on long term savings in heating and cooling. In tropical countries a different approach is needed.”

“What we see as crucial in this process is communication and open sharing of information with anyone interested in doing similar projects. Maybe even creating a “library” of some sorts – including advice, average prices, contacts etc. If we did some mistakes, there is no need for someone else to do them all over again. I suppose lots of architects do projects like these, once or twice in their career and then continue with their other work, and a lot of that knowledge and networking gets forgotten.

And finally, just for fun – Where are your favourite spots in Berlin for:

Breakfast or coffee: “Croissanterie in Pannierstrasse for breakfast or coffee at coffee corner in Kottbuserdamm.”

Spending a hot summers day: “In our rubber boat hanging out in the canal.”

Spending a cold winters day: “At home.”

Finding inspiration: “I’m very practical and I don’t look for inspiration.”

A night out with friends: “Späti inside Hasenheide.”

You can find out more about WEbuilding and how to get involved through their website. Or follow them on Instagram @webuilding to see what they are up to next.

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 favourites 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. You can follow them on instagram @blossombyhausklinik and @the_jungleroom for loads of plant inspiration. They also 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.

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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.


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Text & images © Barbara Cilliers

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

Coffee & cozy at FreiRaum cafe

Coffee & cozy at FreiRaum cafe

Without the anticipation of Christmas and thrill of Sylvester, Berlin can be pretty grey and gloomy in January. So if you need some motivation to leave the house, head over to FreiRaum on Katzbachstraße. With their two wood burning stoves and logs to last all winter you’ll be hard pressed to find a cafe more cozy. Owners Oguz and his wife Nihal, have done an amazing job at creating an atmosphere so inviting that you just won’t want to leave.

But if you can’t be coaxed on looks alone, come for their amazing coffee and delectable edibles. Everything is home-made and freshly baked by Nihal and Oguz, whom you’re certain to meet on your visit. Originally from Turkey, Oguz moved to Berlin 6 years ago. He studied economy and was a diving instructor before practising gastronomy here in Berlin. Nihal, who grew up in Berlin, is an art therapist, and initially used the space as her studio.


The idea for FreiRaum came about when Nihal fell pregant. The family found an apartment above her studio, and because she was about to stop working they decided the turn it into a coffee shop. Oguz and Nihal did the interiors themselves, with an effort to maintain an eco friendly approach.

Freiraum Cafe in Berlin

FreiRaum Cafe in Berlin

Eight months later the resulting design was simple and understated with a focus on earthy colours and natural materials like bare clay walls and wood panelling. Coupled with old wooden floors, wild flowers and woolly throws, the space is reminiscent of a mountain cabin in Scandinavia.

It’s down-to-earth aura is even more enhanced by the child friendly elements like tiny chairs and wooden horse. It’s no surprise that the owners themselves have two kids, Eftalya, now two and a half and her 15 year old brother, Tanyel.


I simply love hanging out here. For Oguz and Nihal it’s become a true Kiezcafe. A place where families gather, wonderful exchanges occur and friendships begin. Do come and have a look for yourself, on Katzbachstraße 24, Kreuzberg.