When I arrived in Kathrin’s home in Montreuil, I immediately understood that she lives in a different world. It was an other-worldly impression that spoke to me. Kathrin Leist is an artist who does nothing like anyone else. She is German and has lived in France for several years in a lively Montreuil quarter. This eclectic approach has various facets. Sometimes she writes for German webzines. Other times, she is a designer or a blogger: Kathrin does not fit any mould. Uncompromising and authenticity, she does not follow fashion and spends her time moving about furniture items and objects she creates or collects. She has a very strong personality in this bohemian couple which shares its schedule around the children’s lives. We could take a leaf out of their book !
Could you tell me the story about your home ?
The architect Nicolas Laisné designed this house in 2011 in a space in Montreuil that had been a Creamery before. I became friends with him and his family in 2013, when a girlfriend of mine moved to Germany and she recommended us to Nico to become the new tenants. I felt from the first moment that the place was made for us. I love the high windows that go up to the ceiling, that are also the doors to our backyard. I love these double functions, like the staircase, that is also a bookshelf. I adore the open kitchen and the living room. The life in one lofty space, reminds me to my former life in Brooklyn, where I had a bunk bed. Now the bunk beds are three tiny, cozy rooms upstairs, where we sleep, get dressed and clean ourselves. In the beginning I thought it was a problem that we don’t have a basement, but now I think it’s a chance, to not have the possible to hoard. I am trying to own only things that we constantly use and that we love.
What are you doing ?
I am a product designer, a correspondent for German media and a fashion stylist. Trying recently to reduce the million things I do for work and get more focused. One day I am designing a Do It Yourself product for the German Blog Roombeez, the next day I am filming for the German Fashion Blog Two for Fashion cool fashion locations in Paris. The next I am interviewing architects for the design magazine Form. Then I am also doing some fashion styling & photographing. And on the side I am trying to develop some of my own products of my brand Kyline.
Let me know how did you think about your interior ?
I only want to be surrounded by things with a soul, that are formed by ideas and fantasy, not because of functional problems. So in our home your find many things I made like the cardboard chest, the children drawing table, the mirrors, the clothing hangers, the rack, some bowls, lamps and other decorations, like the the wall paper fans. Our shower curtain is the roof of an indoor tent I designed some time ago with a beautiful pleated textile from St.Gallen, the famous place for textiles in Switzerland. As I only used the indoor tent once a year, I decided to use it in the bathroom as a curtain.
But we live also with some antiques, vintage pieces, a small art collection and products from my favourite designers, like Naoto Fukasawa or Droog Design. The beautiful antiques are a heritage from my mens family. It think it helps us to stay grounded, as its old, wise and sophisticated. Some of the Vintage furniture we imported from Brooklyn, where we lived before to Montreuil. Like a checkered armchair, that was redesigned by two girls in the Navy Yard, called Nightwood – I could buy every single piece they produce with their hands and the materials they find. For me It’s a real passion to do things with my hands from scratch. I am finding the best solutions with try and error by making prototypes. I often don’t like designs, that were formed by a 3D-computer program. So I also adore other designers who work like that.
It is also very important, how I find furniture. I love to run into something I have never looked for, that I instantly love. Like the 60s velvet Sofa, I was sitting on in a dessous shop and telling the shop owner, how sublime it was, when she surprised me with her plan to sell it the next day. And a Delft chandelier, that I found in an antique store in New Orleans, and took it with me on the thirty three hour train ride back to New York. Or the world map I saved from the trash, when a storage unit close to my Manhattan office was emptied, because the owner hadn’t shown up in a year.
Can you sum up your style in three words ?
Rock-paper-scissors. That’s means, a thousand opportunities.
Which period of time inspires you most from an interior design point of view ?
The local present. I do think Le Corbusier, Rem Koolhaas, Herzog & de Meuron and Alvar Aalto were and are the most amazing architects, but i get the most inspiration from the creative people that surround me in Paris, and in the other cities I lived before. (New York, Zürich, Hamburg and Munich) I started to study Design at the HfbK Hamburg, where Dieter Rams had built up my faculty and Wim Wenders ist still teaching film. This time shapes my thoughts until today, as it was when I learned that creativity is not an isolated skill, it’s the combination of many disciplines.
So when I think about innovative interior design I am very inspired by art – composition is everything in a room, like it is in a painting. And film is interesting too for interior design, as I observe how people move in rooms on screen. My favorite artists are Katharina Trudzinski, Bianca Lee Vasquez, Justin Gabbard, Katrin Niedermeier, Jessie Kanelos Weiner and Jim Avignon.
Do you feel there’s anything missing in your home ?
Its a dream to live in a place like this in Paris. And to have everything we need. But of course if I start thinking about it, I wouldn’t mind to take a special book out of my shelf. And open a hidden door to an empty, secret room. One with blue color on the walls like in the movie, Three Colors: Blue with Juliette Binoche. One month I would place a piano in it. The next a bed for guests, the next a disco ball for a party.
If you could have any designer piece from your wildest dreams, what would it be ?
I wouldn’t say no to the Thinking Man’s Chair of Jasper Morrison. I think the design would fit perfect to the courtyard of our house. And I might have the best idea of my life sitting on it. But my dream is to make things, not to buy them.
What is your idea of a taste faux pas to be avoided ?
If you only own things that you love, there is no taste faux pas. Study the light and the energy in the room, before you place the furniture. Let the space breathe with free space and enlighten it with some art, that tells another story every day. I recently learned how to fold all my clothes better, and let everything stand in the drawer instead of stapling. I definitely wouldn’t want to live without drawers anymore. Even if you are not good in handcraft, you can hire a carpenter, to make something unique for your space. Don’t think of solutions forever, happiness comes with lightness and transformability. I never feel that I am done interior designing my space.
Which is your favourite restaurant ?
For lunch let’s say Modern French: Les pères populaires. I also love these two Japanese: Sanukiya, NeoBento. For dinner: Il Brigante, the best Pizza in Paris, or Aux Deux Amis : french tapas style food. The service can be rough, but I love the lighting, the food, and the location and I have never spend an evening there, that was not amazing.
Crédits : Constance Gennari@thesocialitefamily.com