“The apartments often look like those from a catalogue: nice, but without the soul of the person who’ll live there. The key is to mix everything in the right cocktail to get the right product. Interior designers have a good overview of what the market is offering, which they can use as some sort of a pharmacy and pick the right item to make the space unique,” explains Gregor Drobnič, a Slovenian architect who has been working in Berlin for over a decade under the brand Otto Von Berlin.
Mr Drobnič’s business idea lies in offering his customers assistance in home design as a personal shopper. He says he’s a “fairly good player in the new field” and that he named his business after his pet – a French bulldog named Otto. You’re kindly invited to read more about Mr Drobnič’s business below.
Your main motto is that home and office furnishings need to be “simple yet fun at the same time”.
The design of a living area or a work space, public or personal, needs to be adapted to its function. This is why I need to get to know the customer well first: what they do, how they live, and only when all of the functions are defined can we start talking about where the couch will be or what colour the walls will be.
Even though I approach designing the apartment in a holistic way, from the first idea to the last detail, my favourite part in this process of designing is choosing the elements in the apartment – when I combine the materials, when I’m trying to figure out which chair fits best into the room or which light will create the best effect to highlight my idea.
The home shouldn’t look like one from a catalogue, but needs to reflect the soul of the resident, you say. Still, do you ever “sin” and head to, say, Ikea?
I sin, but in small doses. Ikea is quite acceptable for certain practical items, when you need to fill the kitchen with plate, glasses, buy a mattress or furnish the pantry with functional shelves. But if I happen to find a suitable piece of furniture that could be useful, I remake it a bit, of course, so that it gets the typical mark of the Otto von Berlin brand.
What is your most valuable or beloved piece in your apartment?
For me the most valuable piece is a painting from 1875 which I inherited. It depicts my great-great-grandfather and is the pride of the place, of course.
A once controversial Neukölln, where you live, is a trendy neighbourhood now. Some time ago the media was full of news about a “negative campaign against the hipsters of Berlin”, who had been allegedly making the lives of the “ordinary people” difficult since the latter couldn’t afford antiquities and other services in formerly ghettoized neighbourhoods anymore. What’s your opinion of this?
The city of Berlin is now very ‘in’ and a lot of people are coming here seeking their space under the sun. This is why the demand is higher than the supply, and the prices are rising. The neighbourhood of Neukölln is very ‘in’, in the past only ‘gastarbeiters’ lived there, but now the new immigrants have upset the applecart a bit. I have to admit I feel incredibly blessed to live there. Personally I’m not bothered by ‘hipsters’ in the least, since they make the city a little more colourful.
The inspiration for the name of your brand, Otto von Berlin, came from your adorable French bulldog. Is he a source of inspiration in other ways, too?
Otto is my right hand, and of course the inspiration for my brand, Otto von Berlin. He’s not just a dog, a man’s best friend, but you can learn from him, too. If you observe how the dog perceives the space, you realize instantly how the space needs to be defined to feel as well as possible in it. At the end of the day, we all like to feel well in our living area or work space, do we not?
See some of the projects by Otto von Berlin in the photo gallery below. One of them is also the home of Gregor Drobnič, which is an ever-changing project.