A place where even the most restrained will fall in love with colour. Whether it’s his choice of decor or one of his paintings, Mike Klar isn’t stingy when it comes to using colour. A palette of colours – both cold and warm – as vibrant as the ones we used in partnership with Mériguet-Carrère Paris, with which the designer and his partner, Kevin Kurz, have transformed their Kreuzberg flat into a true visual experience that completely immerses you. “Red, aubergine, lilac”: from the walls to the ceilings, each shade reveals its “aura” using contrast to highlight a selection of designer pieces sourced from various places. “It could be a flea market bargain or a valuable designer lamp from a shop,” says the multidisciplinary Berlin artist. So it’s not surprising to see vintage finds from another style alongside humorous Memphis movement classics. Like these chairs with green textile finishes made in the former GDR, or this ultra-contemporary futuristic resin vase designed by the Italian studio Corsi Design. These anachronistic creations make this former apartment with its Altbau architecture resemble a cabinet of curiosities. With his eye for every eccentric detail, every designer tweak, he encourages us to bring originality into our homes, room by room. May colour be allowed to express itself!
Mike, can you introduce yourselves, please?
I’m very pleased to meet you! I’m Mike Klar, I studied design and illustration at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, and I also have a Master’s degree in psychodynamic art therapy. I worked in a psychiatric hospital for many years, but since 2021, I’ve been focusing on my art, illustration and interior design. My companion, Kevin, studied landscape architecture and then worked in a burlesque cabaret. Now he is a professional head gardener at an organic farm in the Spreewald area, south of Berlin.
Tell us about your childhood. What sort of environment did you grow up in, and how did that affect your idea of what constitutes beauty?
The funny thing is that Kevin and I are basically from the same area, Hessen, but we met in Berlin. There wasn’t much appreciation for art or design in the surroundings I grew up in. But I’ve had an eye for it ever since I was small, and my parents have always supported me in my endeavours. So after secondary school, I studied for a special technical diploma in design, and then I went to university. I was influenced by Bauhaus design from that time on. Weimar is such a historic place; you can’t avoid it. Later, I discovered the Memphis group and Italian interior design, which has a huge influence on the way we create spaces. Kevin is more the collector in our relationship, and I’m perhaps more the curator. I’ve always been inspired by artists’ homes in general.
Here we are, in your apartment in Berlin. How did you plan and design it?
It’s been a long journey. I moved into the apartment in 2011. In those days, it was still a typical Berlin flat shared between three students. The place wasn’t in very good condition, but I’ve always liked the layout. In 2016, Kevin joined me. He moved in, and ever since then, we’ve been constantly improving it, as and when we have had the time and the energy. We’re on the top floor, so we have to climb a lot of stairs, and we don’t have a 3.8 m high ceiling or a balcony… However, the apartment always gets the sun. There’s no noise from upstairs, and due to the poor state of renovation, we can basically do whatever we wish. We took down all the typical “raufasertapete” (woodchip paper) that you find a lot in this area, and we plastered a lot of walls and ceilings. In addition, the whole apartment was painted, and the kitchen floor was changed. This was and is a big project that we’re still carrying out step by step.
In a few words, how would you define your style?
Our style is perhaps a mix of eclectic, artistic and colourful, but with a few classic designer pieces. We try to create a different atmosphere in each space. That gives every room its particular vibe and corresponds with its function. We choose the colours after creating mood boards, and we think about design concepts such as complementary colours, colours from a similar colour range, and colours as a statement or just as a pleasant background that makes objects pop out. When we started collecting older furniture, we were attracted to midcentury design, which you still see in the big sideboards, but then we shifted towards the 1980s and contemporary design. I’d say we mix and match without following any rules. It can be an inexpensive piece from a flea market or a valuable designer lamp from a shop. It’s like painting a picture on canvas but in a living room!
We’ve used a lot of Memphis designs in the spaces. What do you particularly like about the design trends of the 1980s?
What we like most is the playfulness and humour behind the Memphis era and the fact that it breaks free from all the serious business of design. The 1980s are in my blood, too, because that’s when I grew up.
Colour is everywhere in your home, from the walls to the ceiling and the furniture. Can you tell us why you have used so much?
If there’s one thing you can work with in a rented property, it’s colour. It’s the easiest and most effective way of changing a room’s atmosphere or even its apparent layout. The rule is: what you obviously can’t hide, make it a highlight, push it to the limit. Each colour has its own particular aura. So we’ve played with the perspectives and tried to let colour express itself in each room. The rooms we spend most of our time in are in a more or less warm colour palette (orange, rust, aubergine and lilac). The long corridor serves as a link between the two main rooms. That’s in a light. bright blue. The small hallway has one of my wallpapers, which I designed with a very graphic pattern. It’s the smallest area in the apartment, but the paper on the walls has made it the most precious. For our living room, we chose a very dark shade of aubergine, which makes it look very elegant, but it’s also a very relaxing place to be in the evening. It’s the ideal room for entertaining. I find that the dark background makes our collection of quirky pieces stand out more.
If there’s one thing you can work with in a rented property, it’s colour. It’s the easiest and most effective way of changing a room’s atmosphere or even its apparent layout.
Which piece (s) from the Socialite Family collection would you like to see in your home?
We really love the vases from the Duetto range. We can’t decide on a colour combination… but you can never have too many vases!
What addresses in the Kreuzberg district would you recommend?
I’d advise you to go to Victoria Park, which was initially called “Kreuzberg” and which gave its name to this neighbourhood. It has a terrific view over Berlin. If you like flea markets, I can recommend the one at Maybachufer. It’s very crowded, but it’s very nice to walk around. Otherwise, just stroll around the Bergmannkiez with its pleasant restaurants and cafes. Some of the streets are reminiscent of Paris – don’t you think so?
Our style is perhaps a mix of eclectic, artistic and colourful, but with a few classic designer pieces. We try to create a different atmosphere in each space.
Photography : Valerio Geraci – Text : Juliette Bruneau @thesocialitefamily