Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 9 seconds. Contains 1031 words
My friend Alexander Schulz has been at the top of my list of people I want to interview for far too long! You might have seen him here already. Alexander is a very talented and experienced set designer. In the german language, it is way more difficult to describe what he actually does for a living. Alexander is also a photographer, specialising in architectural pictures; find him here on flickr.
He lives in a compact two-room flat in Berlin-Charlottenburg and travels between Berlin and Barcelona, where his husband lives.
His profession does help him to conjure design and food out of thin air, “out of air and love”. His flat is a very good example in my opinion of how he creates defined spaces for work, cooking, living, relaxing etc. which have a great atmosphere with not much furniture and decoration.
I was in a bit of a rush so didn’t have the time to test the homemade ginger lemonade he had just made. But I have had so many dinners at his place that I know it was good.
Find the Audiofile of the original interview at the end of the article.
Q: What is your job description?
A: I am a Set Designer mainly for film and theatre but also events, restaurants, shops etc. When I work for a theatre production I am sometimes responsible for the costumes as well. That is possible for their productions, especially if they have a costume archive and area.
One can see from your flat that you are into design
Q: What fascinates you most in your job?
A: I started with architecture and stopped because it all needed too much time. It needs 5 years or longer from the first idea and draft till you have a finished product, house. Sometimes you lose the original idea on the way. If you work at a theatre or film production the time span between idea and result is much shorter, usually not more than a few months and you work with people who actually use the things you created. So you can easily monitor if your idea works and adjust, if necessary. You get a lot of important feedback. That is another reason I love to work with theatre or film productions, especially theatre as it involves a creative team process. It is not about what you like, you have to find the right solution for that particular project, suggesting how to use the rooms you create to the actor, the director.
Q: You are not from Berlin, what does Berlin mean to you?
A: Berlin is in a way my big home. So many things started here, I could give myself and so many new things a go. It was my first experience of spending a long time away from home; you have to find a new orientation and Berlin was the right place for that with its possibilities to experiment. So much inspiration, the theatre was a new finding. The Volksbühne, Frank Castorf, in the early 90ties, was a great experience. That was very fascinating for me, I realised I could work in theatres with my profession. That is how I started working for theatre productions. Berlin still is and was in those times a big platform for experimental work. Especially subculture and the temporary use of places was very interesting and challenging. Berlin is very important for my personal development.
Q: Where are you from?
A: I am from a small town, close to Frankfurt am Main, in the beautiful Taunus area. When I arrived in Berlin I lived in Zehlendorf, slowly approaching the big city.
Q: Where is home to you?
A: Home is where I feel good and have nice people around me. It’s not especially Frankfurt or Berlin. I am married by now and my husband is from Spain and lives in Barcelona. I feel at home there as well as in Berlin. His family and friends welcomed me so warmly. I feel home when I am with the right people.
Q: Alexander, of course, I know you, so I know the answer but probably not everyone reading this article will, so my question is: Red wine or beer?
A: Red wine! But sometimes in summer, I have a beer.
Q: If someone wants to give you a special moment, what would that be?
A: I love to be invited to a beautiful restaurant. Indulging in good food, a nice atmosphere is always a great pleasure.
Q: What is indulgence mean for you?
A: It means a lot to me, mainly food. Luckily now there are some good restaurants in Berlin as well. In Spain, it is usual to find good food everywhere, and they are very modern and looking for new trends in their cooking. In Berlin, on the other hand, you get food from many cultures and countries.
Q: If money and time didn’t matter where would you travel to?
A: The world! Of course, there are things I have never seen, like south America, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Asia is just as interesting, especially because I love Asian cuisine.
I see it has a lot to do with food again. Where you would travel to?
A: The Cuisine is always a reason to travel.
Q: What is your favourite music?
A: I don’t have really a favourite genre. It depends on the time and the emotions. I like Soul and Funk, Pop, and classical music of course. Hip Hop and Rap are not really my thing, maybe the early songs. I like rhythm, music that makes me dance.
Q: If friends visited you in Berlin, what would you show them first?
A:First often my home, the places I spend a lot of time where I feel good. And of course, the usual places if they are new to the city.
Q: What makes home a home?
A:Well if you feel good and comfortable. Of course, you have your little „Komforteinheiten“ which you create for yourself. But home is not only your home but places where you feel good. Like cafes and shops. The Café Savigny is very close and that is a big advantage, which I really appreciate.
Q: What do you do to relax?
A:Sometimes just watch some TV, check Social Media for an hour, just to calm down.
Thank you, Alexander, for your time time!
Audiorecording of the original interview (in german):