Project “Freunde von Freunden” Creatives: Good Friends

Freunde-von-Freunden, Michel Würthle, Artist & Restaurateur, Apartment, Kreuzberg & Paris Bar, Charlottenburg
Freunde-von-Freunden, Michel Würthle, Artist & Restaurateur, Apartment, Kreuzberg & Paris Bar, Charlottenburg | Photo: Debora Mittelstaedt

The interview blog “Freunde von Freunden” (i.e. friends of friends) visits creatives at home and has become a style Bible in young creative circles.

Freunde von Freunden is an interview project by the designer of the Berlin creative agency MoreSleep, for which they have been visiting their equally creative friends and friends of friends, photographing them, interviewing them and sometimes filming them as well, since 2009. What began as a simple blog quickly expanded into a comprehensive platform plus growing editorial network that is now operating internationally under the title Freunde von Freunden (FvF), publishing books, embarking on cooperations with online appearances such as the Zeit Magazin Online, and closely cooperating with firms such as Adidas and the Swiss furniture manufacturer Vitra.

Freunde-von-Freunden, Gori de Palma & Laura Gonzalez, Florist & Fashion Designer, Apartment, Poblenou, Barcelona Freunde-von-Freunden, Gori de Palma & Laura Gonzalez, Florist & Fashion Designer, Apartment, Poblenou, Barcelona | Photo: Natalia Guarín and Ruben Ortiz Together with Vitra, “Freunde von Freunden” have recently furnished a flat under their office in Berlin’s Mulackstraße in which agency team members around founders Frederik Frede, Tim Seifert und Torsten Bergler and journalists and designers connected with the agency can live and work.

In its mixture of casual Berlin old-building charm and high-quality designer furnishings plus an abundance of attention to handcrafted detail and the courage needed for unconventional living solutions, the flat reflects pretty exactly the living philosophy of not only the creative agency itself, but also of many of the friends and acquaintances they have portrayed.

Creative Germany’s style arbiter

However, in the beginning, the FvF project, conceived by the agency during a somewhat stagnant order situation, had not been imagined at all as an emerging style guidebook with its own showroom. Instead was intended only to show “how we as an agency imagine the future of social media” –as managing director Frederik Frede says– “namely with personal access. We see ourselves as part of a creative community and are in continual exchange with each other, a network. That’s what we wanted to show.” This approach is also in evidence for readers in the questions under the photo galleries in which the people being portrayed gave very personal information about themselves, their surroundings, and how they live and work. “The fact that we focussed on living and furnishing was perhaps a piece of luck as well,” says Frede, “somehow that was in the air when we were getting started, even if we didn’t necessarily have a glossy magazine like Architectural Digest in the back of our minds.”
 
  • Freunde-von-Freunden, Nor Toma, Communication Expert, Apartment, Majorna and Gothenburg city tour Photo: Marlen Mueller
    Freunde-von-Freunden, Nor Toma, Communication Expert, Apartment, Majorna and Gothenburg city tour
  • Freunde-von-Freunden, Dean Di Simone, Designer and Creative Director, Loft, Soho, New York City Photo: Brian W. Ferry
    Freunde-von-Freunden, Dean Di Simone, Designer and Creative Director, Loft, Soho, New York City
  • Freunde-von-Freunden, Gisèle d’Ailly van Waterschoot van der Gracht, Publisher & Artist, Apartment, Amsterdam Centrum Photo: Jordi Huisman
    Freunde-von-Freunden, Gisèle d’Ailly van Waterschoot van der Gracht, Publisher & Artist, Apartment, Amsterdam Centrum
  • Freunde-von-Freunden, Arno-Brandlhuber, Architect, Apartment & Office, Mitte, Berlin Photo: Philipp Langenheim
    Freunde-von-Freunden, Arno-Brandlhuber, Architect, Apartment & Office, Mitte, Berlin
  • Freunde-von-Freunden, Athanassios “Ata” Macias, Club Owner, DJ and Producer, Frankfurt, Nordend Photo: Ramon Haindl
    Freunde-von-Freunden, Athanassios “Ata” Macias, Club Owner, DJ and Producer, Frankfurt, Nordend
  • Freunde-von-Freunden-Carolina-Iriarte, Fashion Designer, Studio and Store, Barri Gòtic & El Born, Barcelona Photo: Natalia Guarín and Ruben Ortiz
    Freunde-von-Freunden-Carolina-Iriarte, Fashion Designer, Studio and Store, Barri Gòtic & El Born, Barcelona

Berlin provided the perfect backdrop for the first Homestories

Be that as it may, at FvF the pictorial language and layout of their creative friends were professional from the very start. Lighting and arrangement are oriented on the upper end of interior design magazines, mixed with elements from Todd Selby’s blog The Selby, i.e. with the occupant’s personal take on himself and his favourite furnishings and sitting areas. In addition, from the beginning Berlin with its flats and lofts was the perfect backdrop for the blog’s reduced pictorial language, and also provided a wonderful environment for various and sundry nonchalantly placed stacks of books, musical instruments, art and photos on the roughcast or un-plastered walls or Fixie bike wheels laid in the corner – and this also applies to the later category of workspaces, whose raw factory charm plus wooden work benches, colour palettes and paint cans were also portrayed with visual intensity and power.

Freunde-von-Freunden, Magnus Reed, photographer, Apartment and Studio, Berlin-Schöneberg Freunde-von-Freunden, Magnus Reed, photographer, Apartment and Studio, Berlin-Schöneberg | Photo: Ailine Liefeld Frederik Frede and his colleagues have recently been taken to task by German feature pages for these repetitive living and work combinations: “Quite rightly,” as editor Frede admits. However, he also points out that this is not necessarily a Berlin phenomenon – and in fact not only high-profile Berlin culture creators are now being given a forum in FvF, i.e. gallery and bar owners, photographers and designers, but also women artists from Istanbul and Beirut, curators from Amsterdam and women fashion designers from Los Angeles. “We always want to present interesting people with exciting careers, best of all internationally,” explains Frederik Frede. However, a requirement for an appearance in FvF is a creative profession: “That of course can be anything from a cook to an artist.”

Expanding internationally

One sees that this international mix has benefited the project – and true to form, right on the heels of the first FvF Berlin book, a new one is being put together that will publish 40 of the international portraits in coffee-table book format.

Frederik Frede and his team are currently also feeling their way along towards something new for them: in cooperation with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit), they are planning to take a look at creatives and their work in emerging countries: “Naturally, there are people working like us in Africa as well. Discovering and presenting them would be an awesome addition to FvF.”

A glimpse of life and work without Vitra and Artek furnishings is already available; the two artist portraits from Morocco or the one of the young DJ from Bangladesh are straightforward statements of creative life under more difficult conditions. It will be interesting to see what can be found outside of the western-centric focus of the creative cosmos.