Two art directors and their new baby boy share how they came to love the buzz of Berlin from their light-filled Prenzlauer Berg home.
You may think that furnishing a new apartment might cause a power struggle for two such design-minded individuals, but it turns out it was surprisingly simple for Ariane and Axel. We spent the afternoon in their bright apartment overlooking Berlin’s treetops in the friendly neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg – aka “THE place to have a baby”.
How did you two meet?
Ariane: We met at work – actually at Condé Nast Publishing House. Axel was a Creative Consultant at GQ Magazine and hired me for some fashion supplements they were developing at the time.
So you worked in the same field! What are you both doing now?
Ariane: We’re still both art directors, just working in different fields. For the last decade I’ve worked mostly as a freelancer in the publishing industry for multiple fashion and lifestyle magazines – developing new titles, relaunching magazines, overall art direction and photoshoots. My clients include Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, InStyle, Cosmopolitan and the BMW Foundation for example. I also work directly with brands on visual storytelling. But… at the moment I am on maternity leave with baby Jonathan.
That’s a pretty big portfolio for one person! How about you, Axel?
Axel: It’s actually my first day starting freelancing again! I´ve worked in the publishing world for the majority of my professional life but I’m taking two months off now and I’m going to start my own studio afterwards. I came to Berlin three years ago to join WIRED Germany as creative director. Before that I worked at GQ in Munich, where we met. I´ve been working for print and online titles for over 12 years now.
What drew you both into the publishing world?
Ariane: I´ve studied photography and graphic design and I remember assisting at photo shoots, because I wanted to become a professional photographer. But there was always this art director person on set telling everyone what to do. I was quite annoyed by this and thought – hey, I want to be in this position [laughs]! I wanted to be in charge of the creative output, so I changed my focus slightly. I still love photography though.
Axel: My story’s a bit different. I didn’t study anything related to what I do now. I just had friends who were starting their own magazine, so I was part of their world from the beginning on. I was really lucky – I didn’t even had to send a CV or go through the whole recruitment process. They were just looking for help and asked me to come by and learn stuff. The best part is that I’m still working with these people, too.
How have your lives changed since the baby boy arrived?
Ariane: Well, we’re tired – like super, super tired. But we’re also taking things a bit more easy now. We’re both taking some time off from work so we can focus on what’s most important.
Axel: The last few years at WIRED Magazine I was very much focused on my job. So I’m really excited about this new chapter and what’s coming next. Of course, we used to have people around and go out much more – movies, dinners, exhibitions, openings. That for sure has changed. But we’re excited as Jonathan grows up a bit, so we can enjoy all these things together, as a family.
You both lived and worked in Munich for a long time – what brought
you to Berlin?
Ariane: The initial trigger was Axel´s job. I know that everyone loves Berlin so much, and I had been here quite often for jobs or to see friends, but I wasn´t convinced to actually move here at the beginning. And I still miss the mountains! But I got used to the city and finally understand what this whole buzz is about. Berlin is a great place to live in, very open, international and creative, and you meet so many inspiring people here. Our neighbourhood – Prenzlauer Berg – is amazing, so relaxed and beautiful. We hang out here a lot.
Axel: Funny observation – it very much feels like this area is like THE place to have a baby [laughs]. It’s like a baby boom around here. You see literally only couples that are pregnant or already have a baby, strolling around in the streets and parks.
Ariane: But we’re definitely planning on moving back south at some point to be closer to friends and family. It all changes a little bit when you start a family and have a baby. You want the grandparents to be around! But oh boy – we’re going to miss this apartment!
No surprise! It’s gorgeous. How did you pick this place?
Ariane: Light! Light is crucial – I can’t imagine living in a dark apartment, especially now when staying at home much more with little Jonathan. This one also has amazing views as it’s on the top floor – we overlook the park and are actually above the trees. It’s an incredibly wide open view to have in a big city like Berlin.
Axel: In the morning when I´m now awake- and we’re talking morning morning – like 5am [laughs] – you can actually see the sun rising from behind the buildings and the trees.
Who was in charge of styling the apartment and picking the furniture?
Axel: This flat is actually our first real home together so we put extra shared effort into this.
Ariane: We invested in a few nice pieces of furniture together that we wanted to have – you know – those basics like a couch, a dining table, a bookshelf. It was also the first time that our space had to reflect both of our styles. Thankfully, we’re actually quite similar when it comes to what we like. Of course, it’s not like we did it totally argument-free but it was civil enough [laughs]. In a nutshell: I like white, Axel prefers black, so we got some white and black stuff – that’s what we call a compromise.
Was it hard to choose your Tylko bookshelf? Or bookshelves we should say – as you have another one in the baby’s room as well!
Ariane: Not at all. We picked Tylko shelves because they both look great and are super functional. The one in the living room is literally the center of our everyday life – we keep our most needed stuff there, from favorite books to keys. And it ads this great splash of colour to our living area.
Axel: What I loved most about Tylko is that you can go online and design as many shelves as you like without feeling the pressure to pick one right away. When you go to a offline retailer and you’re in a showroom, it’s always a bit intense and you feel like you have to make your decision right away. But it’s not an easy decision – you want to make sure it’s going to look great and fit perfectly – which our Tylko shelves do. It’s all about an effortless, pleasant experience.
How would you describe your style? As art directors, do you follow interior trends at all?
Ariane: I had the chance to get into the topic quite deeply while working for an interior mag, but I’m not really into it anymore – we just pick the stuff we want and don’t bother too much about what’s trendy right now. We thought we could go a little crazy with the baby’s room and even bought some turquoise stuff, but then had to admit “nope that’s definitely not us“. I have lots of colorful clothes but it just feels like a different thing – fashion is much more temporal. When you invest in furniture, it’s here to stay with you for a while, so you want to go with great basics like Tylko and then build upon them.