Posts tagged germany
Meet Me In Hamburg This Saturday, 10 September - FeierLaune Buch Party
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Hello dear friends. This is a quick post to let you know that on Saturday morning I'm going to be in Hamburg at the Deichtorhallen for Blickfang International Design Fair from 10-11 am to present the German edition of my new book, [easyazon_link identifier="3421040362" locale="DE" tag="decor809-21"]FeierLaune[/easyazon_link], for the first time - it's not even out yet so no one has a copy and won't for a few more weeks! If you'd like to come, we'll be having breakfast and talking about the book and I'll be signing copies and meeting everyone - it will be very nice and my little boy will be with me so he can meet everyone and be at mama's book launch party. I'll also have some time between 11:15-12:30 for interviews if you'd like to meet one on one. Decorate-for-A-Party,-p39,-photography-by-Janis-Nicolay

To register, just use this link and I'll see you there!

Thank you DVA/Random House and Blickfang for hosting this special event in celebration of my 4th book.

(Photograph: Janis Nicolay for Decorate For a Party)

Snug Studio Tour in Hannover

Hello dear friends and happy Friday to you! So! I decided a few months ago to shake things up and challenge myself to a new project - to focus on my photography and build my skills in that area. I've been hiring photographers on projects for years but lately, I'm shooting more for clients and even for my next book which has made me happier than I had expected. My uncle and grandfather were both professional photographers so who knows, perhaps it's a little bit of a calling? I'm not becoming a photographer but I thought I'd challenge myself to take better photos outside of my studio and home and shoot in other locations where I'd be forced to deal with different lighting, objects, people, work with others, make them happy, be in new settings... You know, stuff you need to do in order to push outside of your comfort zone. snug1LOWRES

I made an appointment several months ago with snug studio, a local design firm that I've been following since they launched, and yesterday I visited them to put together this little story for all of you.  This creative firm consists of three friends, Berit, Kerstin and Heiko and their assistant, Bettina. Above is a glimpse of their studio. In hindsight, there are many things I could have done better on this shoot and I'm a little embarrassed that their portrait didn't come out sharp below (hands over eyes), but you know what? It was my first time ever shooting a space like this and it felt pretty damn great! It only took me about 90 minutes but the buzz I felt after being there has traveled with me ever since - I loved it!

I want to create more stories for decor8 that are about my friends, local and afar, so I plan to work diligently to keep booking appointments and push myself to get out there and really create stories from scratch - style, shoot and then write about it. So here's my first attempt. I hope that you enjoy my little story about snug as much as I do!

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The moment I arrived yesterday morning to their loft, which is in an old former German factory, I was greeted by warm and lovely Berit. As she showed me to their space, her partner (in life and in business) peeked out from around the corner in their massive stock area with yet another very warm hallo, and as I walked into their light-filled loft with soaring ceilings and industrial concrete floors, in came Kerstin who kindly gave me a hug and made me feel right at home, too. People make a space and although where they work is gorgeous, I was struck by their modesty, curiosity for what I was exactly going to do there, warmth and their overall openness to having me in the first place. That set the tone for the shoot and I was inspired before even taking out my camera.

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I love their story because they were friends first before creating a business and I remember when they had just started snug and it was only Berit and Kerstin - and today they have a team of four and a massive loft and warehouse and work with companies near and far. It's great to see creatives go for their dreams and turn ideas into a reality. They are even up for a prestigious German design award for some of their products. What an accomplishment!

So, let's talk about some of their products. But first, below are pieces of plywood that they use to test colors to see how they'll end up looking on wood since wood and paper are what they work with most. I don't know, I just grabbed them and had to take a photo because I like seeing what goes into product design and small glimpses like this make me appreciate product design even more.

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I asked Kerstin what was the inspiration behind the snug brand and she said they really are inspired by organic shapes and nature but combine them with pure, graphic motifs to give them a fresh look. I love mixing graphic and organic shapes but find it's quite hard to do because it's a real practice of restraint, yet snug does it with such ease - I really enjoy how everything they produce flows so nicely from one item to the next so it's obvious they are all being produced by the same firm. snug1LOWRES1

One of my favorite new products from snug are these wooden trees, shown above, that you can use to form just about any shape you fancy. You can also stack them and let the children play with them. love the colors and how simple yet versatile they are. I thought later that it would be so pretty to form patterns on a tabletop like the snowflakes I made above only in the center, place simple tealights.

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This ABC poster is a favorite of mine, it's available in 5 colorways but my favorite is the black and white. snug14LOWRES

These cuties above are from their first big collaboration - slipper socks for kids and adults, a partnership with French design firm Collegien. Berit told me that they've just been shown at Maison + Objet in Paris, which is really exciting news. I personally must own a pair little Aidan, I love the pattern so much.

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Behind their open loft space is a little eating nook, which you can see in the first image I shared at the top of this post - just look through the little window! This space consists of lighting equipment since they do all of their product photography on their own, a table and chairs for lunch, a storage dresser and a piece of plywood that they use to tack up latest inspirations.

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In their lunch room I also found a few random images on the wall that Kerstin said was inspiring her lately...

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They so nicely invited me to take a break with cake and coffee, but I politely declined because I had to wrap up the shoot and go home to watch my little boy. But those cakes sure looked tempting. oh my goodness! The cross candle holder and wooden cloud and chevron boards are all snug studio products.

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This light from Studio Snowpuppe in the Netherlands made me smile, I really like their work and was pleasantly surprised to spot it! snug25LOWRES

This is a brand new product that they'll soon release being modeled by Berit - their ABC Tea Towel. Yes, please! I tagged this as another favorite of mine. snug2LOWRES

Another view from the lunch area looking back through into their work space. The toyblocks calendar almost came home with me! Also in this photo are their new wax and golden ratio postcards, a black deco ballmarble boxgrowth chart, wooden pendants and other snug goodies that you can find in their online shop here. snug6LOWRES

This is the view when you leave their lunch room... Behind Heiko is their stock room, a freight elevator and a small kitchen.

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More random inspirations pinned to the walls, this time in the main work area.

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I asked Kerstin to show us their new cards in square format - these are of three different bears - a koala, panda and polar. I adore how simple they are but also so strong!

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It was nice to look down and spot this little detail in the corner of a window. A simple water glass with hydrangea. I am so touched by people who pay attention to little details. To even think to place flowers in such a random spot gives me a good feeling because it shows a certain sensitivity and appreciation for little things. This made me smile so I had to take a quick photo.

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I was so in love with their floor that I asked if we could arrange a few things on it for a photo. Everything you see is their product except, of course, the sweet little succulent.

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Here's the lovely portrait I took that I screwed up a little by not making sure my camera settings were correct, so Heiko is a bit blurry. Sorry dear Heiko, but they all look so cute anyway, and joyful about their work, that I didn't want to not show this photo. I was talking to someone recently and I told them that when you put your ego aside, you work better with others and feel better inside. I thought to apply my own advice here. To put my ego aside... It may not result in the best photo technically-speaking but it does give you a good feeling to see them together in their space doesn't it? For me, it's my favorite photo from the shoot.

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And finally, their new wall columns calendar (another fave of mine, great color!) and their new deco balls which are not yet listed on their website - coming soon!

Thank you snug for welcoming me to your Hannover studio this week to give your worldwide fans a chance to see where you create your products, right here in my city. It was an honor to spend time with you!

Have a nice weekend everyone, see you on Monday. I'm off to the zoo with my little boy!

(Photography: Holly Becker for decor8)

Trends: Creative Cooking + Food Trucks

A few years ago I spotted a micro "foodie" trend in Germany and today it's slowly starting to take off - food trucks! Today I have a book to share with you all about them and where you can find the best ones in the country. As an American, food trucks are as common to me as the corner coffee shop and went from trend to a staple in mainstream American culture many years ago. It never dawned on me when I moved to Germany that, outside of festivals and Christmas markets, food trucks run by creative cooks were not common at farmers' markets and rare sights in cities. The food trucks at events were (and largely still are) very typical serving beer, bratwurst, pommes and the typical German festival foods which are great but offer little to those longing for a culinary adventure. FoodTruck2

Germany is slowly but surely becoming a big foodie culture, especially among young people with the over 35 crowd also catching on. I'm starting to see food trucks pop up in my city and even the typical fests with the typical foods are slowly starting to change with new foods being offered that cater to vegans and others who are just looking to have their tastebuds tickled. That's why I was so excited when my contact at Prestel, a German book publisher, sent me a copy of their newest book called Food Trucks highlighting some of the best of Germany. I think they'll need to do several follow-ups very soon, because we have some great food trucks popping up in Hannover and I hope many more. These mobile kitchens offer a chance for locals to meet cooks, experience the process, meet people, explore different recipes and venture outside of the typical ingredients and the more traditional foods.

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In Hannover, we have a food truck called Food Lovers with a couple who have grandchildren running it - she is Japanese and he is Jewish. Together, they fuse their two cultures into their recipes (I snapped a photo on IG here). Each week when I visit, they offer me something new they've just experimented with. Last week it was a new rice pilaf and the week before, a seaweed-flavored salad made only with carrots! Food trucks offer a wonderful way for cooks to do what they love without the overhead and the sheer time commitment of running a restaurant full-time. They also make for great test kitchens for exploring new recipes. Another food truck we have that I love is called Soup Sisters. In fact, their truck has become so popular that they have opened a brick-and-mortar cafe downtown with two more in the work.

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On of the sad things about Hannover is our decision-makers over at city hall are not innovative or fresh and are seriously boring. They sink a lot of money into things that are standard and cater to their age group (50+) but little goes to the rest of us, and not into fresh new ideas. For instance, they make it very hard for food trucks to obtain licensing and have a bunch of guidelines that really hold back a lot of people from starting their own food truck business here. I hope that this changes because, as this book clearly shows, the food truck culture in other cities (especially Berlin where I will be traveling to next week with a blog post about my finds), is growing and will quickly leave Hannover in the dust yet there is so much potential in our city as our creative scene is starting to really expand and experiment with new things.

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I really like the Food Trucks book because it shows some of the best food trucks currently in Germany with a bio of each along with plenty of mouth-watering photos. It's great to have a book like this in Germany because it sheds light on the food truck industry in general because so many people living here aren't really in tune with this culture of meals on wheels. I also like seeing the trucks bustling with people and conversation throughout the book, it makes me long to be a part of the atmosphere since I find it so inspirational to be around people who love what they are cooking and eating, and sharing meals together. One of my great passions is to come together with those I love to share food, wine and laughter in a relaxed casual environment sans attitude and overly decorated tabletops.

By the way, did you watch the film Chef? It's great, I highly suggest it!

If you would like a copy of this book, it's only available in German but it is available on Amazon.de or any good book store in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

(images: Book cover on table: Holly Becker, all others: Toby Binder, Henning Kreitel, Birgit von Bally, Richard Pflaume)