At Home With: Chris Glass in Berlin

A man sitting on a blue sofa in an apartment full of decorative items.

Soho House’s Cities Without Houses European membership director on where he finds design inspiration, bold colour choices and phallic art

By Mikael Jack   Friday 12 April, 2019

The Berlin home of Chris Glass, Soho House’s Cities Without Houses European membership director, is a high-low marriage of bohemian, kitsch, luxury and chic. From the moment you’re enveloped by the dark green hallway – almost black and lit by a neon crucifix – that gives way to high-ceilinged, bright rooms filled with the scents of fig and citrus, you’re struck by the colours, plants, books, treasures and art from near and far. Every inch has its own personality.

Here, in the flat he has called home since 2014, he talks about how working at Soho House has helped him hone his style, where he finds inspiration, the unlikely running theme of his art and his most treasured item. 
A cabinet with a plant and artworks on it.
A bedroom interior.
Describe your home.
‘The building is unspectacular, but it’s in the heart of Mitte and just a few minutes’ walk to Soho House Berlin. I’ve lived here for five years, collecting, changing, knocking down and adding things as I go. Home means everything to me, and it’s my oasis to escape Berlin’s hustle. My job requires me to be “on” at all times, but I can manage that a bit better at home. I love to entertain, but again, that’s on my own terms here. Home is the place where I can let my hair down, if I had some.’

What are your favourite spaces?
‘My bedroom is filled with light first thing in the morning, and the wall colour makes me happy. My desk, a new addition, is a favourite spot to sit and read while I have my tea.’

Has the city influenced your home?
‘Berlin can often have a hard edge, so it’s influenced my flat in the sense that I wanted something to counteract it – something cosy, personal and sophisticated. When I started designing the space, I first looked at what existed and needed to be celebrated and then found a way to build a room around that. I chose bold colours that impart warmth and elegance – the kind of colours that people notice.’

What do you love about your neighbourhood and how does it inspire you beyond interiors?
‘Living so centrally, my neighbourhood can feel overrun with tourists and everyone going about their weekend business, but that also has its upsides. I enjoy people watching from cafes, looking at what people are wearing, what shopping bags they’re carrying, what accessories they’re sporting… Mitte is great for that because you see such a cross-section of people from near and far.’
A shelving unit with artworks, books and plants on it.
An interior with many furnishings and artworks in it.
How does your home now differ from where you grew up?
‘I grew up in a much larger suburban house, but there are a lot of similarities. My parents’ home told their story, and mine tells my own – touches of places I’ve lived and travelled to, artists I know and love, mementos from family and friends and things that I treasure because I’ve worked hard to be able to afford them. My parents collected antiques, so I guess that’s where my love of vintage comes from, and my father was a florist, so the house was always filled with flowers.’

Where do you find interior design inspiration?
‘Mostly on Instagram and interiors blogs. I reference vintage shops, books and magazines too. Hotels are a big inspiration and, of course, Soho Houses. When we opened the House in Istanbul, I asked the design team about every little detail because I was fascinated with the design and the pieces they’d sourced.’

Has spending so much time in the Houses influenced your own interiors style?
‘Absolutely. I love our style and how it tells individual stories within each House. It’s helped me hone my own style in that I wanted something that was in contrast to where I worked but just as stylish. The Barcelona club speaks to my tastes most, with its mix of Catalan tradition, mid-century-modern silhouettes and Brutalist ceramics. It’s unrestrained but still elegant. My sofa is a version of one that was in the Berlin House when it first opened – a big statement piece with a floral pattern – and it’s a nice connection to my early days here.’
An interior with chairs a table and a wooden cabinet.
A kitchen interior with shelves and units in it.
What architects and designers do you admire?
‘I love how the architect John Pawson matches cool and clean with punches of spirit with texture or colour. When I lived in Barcelona, I discovered interior designer Lazaro Rosa Violan and I love how unapologetic and layered his work is. Some other favourites are Joseph Dirand, Faye Toogood, Georg Kayser and India Mahdavi.’

How do you source pieces in Berlin?
‘A couple of years ago, I opened a shoppable apartment and event space in Berlin called aptm. It’s set up like a flat, and you can buy the furniture and objects in it. I use it as a platform to highlight artisans and pieces I’m fond of. Original in Berlin, Jo. van Norden and Holm Vintage are all vintage shops I check regularly.’

Do you splurge or save on interiors?
‘Both. I live for high-low. Very few people can afford to buy only high-end, and mixing creates texture, warmth and more interesting stories when people visit. Rugs, lamps and wall colours are good things to invest in and they give you the most bang for your buck. Save for a good sofa, and in the meantime, beautiful cushions can transform a mediocre one.’
Various artworks hung on a wall.
An interior with a desk next to a window.
Any tips for choosing colours for a smaller space?
‘Generally, the tip is to avoid dark colours in small spaces, but I choose colour based on personality, not the space. If you feel like a brooding red or a rich, royal blue, do it. Make it a strong, intentional choice and flood the space with colour.’

Why did you choose the pieces of art?
‘Most of the pieces I have were gifted to me by artists or friends, and some I bought myself. I’m far from being a collector. I simply focus on what I like. The running theme seems to be religion and genitalia, and god only knows what that says about me.’

What do you treasure most in your home?
‘A cookbook series called Calling All Cooks that includes regional recipes from all over the southern United States. My mom and aunt collected and gave them to me. It’s decidedly simple, but it holds a flood of memories and possibilities in its pages.’

Images by Jesica Jungbauer
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