How handy is it to have your carpenter live with you? Illustrator and Goldsmith Jessica Herber of Stadtelster Design creates delicate, minimalistic and emotive illustrations for clients from Berlin to Weimar, where she shares a flat with her partner Julius – trained craftsmen and architect to be. Their home is a playful, charming reflection of their warm personalities, where design classics meet modern pieces. We visited Jessica in her cosy apartment on a hot summer’s day to find out what inspires her – and to taste her delicious homemade iced latte.
“To be honest, I needed time to warm up to this flat. Our previous place was this picture perfect apartment – but we had to move out as it was next to a main road and the noise from the traffic just became unbearable. We first viewed the flat late in the evening and the rooms were so dim, I could barely make out the existing furniture, which really wasn’t our taste. We decided to take a second look in the morning – and the quiet neighbourhood and light flooded living room promptly changed our mind.”
“I’m very reasonable when it comes to selecting new items and don’t feel compelled to constantly buy stuff. We took years to organically grow our collection of vintage pieces and hand-me-downs. Whenever we allow anything new in the flat, we have to be certain it will stay with us for years to come. Our luckiest find? A classic modernist design: the Knoll sofa with matching armchairs.”
Jessica’s energy and passion for beautifully made things radiates from her entire personality and fills every corner of her colourful world: “One of the best pieces of advice I got when moving in here was to really go all out on paint. It can really change a room,” says Jessica. I love how the Vetro lamp contrasts with the inky blue in the living room. To me this piece strikes the perfect balance between classic and modern design – it looks almost sculptural.”
“My favourite room in the house is definitely the living room. It’s always gets the sun and when you open the door to the balcony, it feels like the flat becomes even larger. The original midcentury shelves were an absolute bargain, that I discovered on eBay. The previous owner put up these really bad images of them – but I immediately knew they’d be perfect for this place.”
"My style is a mix of modern pieces, vintage finds and furniture that Julius designed and built. He’s a trained carpenter and the oak table with matching benches was his final year project. We love putting the Luna dinnerware on it as the black ceramic surface really brings out the colour of everything around it."
"I love inviting friends to our home and Julius and I both really enjoy hosting dinner parties. The large wooden table is perfect for that. Though things rarely get too wild around here. We love just opening a good bottle of wine, listen to music and talk – really relaxed."
“I think what makes our home unique is that we mix old and new. You can buy things on a budget and then make them your own with just a little bit of work. The kitchen we got for this place was nothing special at first, but Julius added these really sleek wooden bars and now I think it looks really great.“
“Before you start the design process, it’s important to have a really clear idea on the function of each room. What do you want to do in this space: sleep, focus or relax? That’s my starting point and then I build a colour scheme and layout ideas around that. One thing I’ve learned from decorating this flat though is to definitely always paint the walls BEFORE you put in any furniture.”
“I have two workspaces: my jewellery I create in a small studio and shop in the bustling heart of Weimar, the illustrations I work on here at my Eiermann desk – another classic piece, that I love! Making jewellery can be loud and creates a lot of dust and dirt. Painting on the other hand is an intimate process, that I need calmness and serenity for. So I basically have two creative personalities and I need the physical division between them.”
“I live for my work. But a few months ago I bit off more than I could chew – my design work, the jewellery shop, running influencer workshops... It got to a point where I had to hit pause on new illustration commissions. What I learned from that is that it’s important to safeguard your own creativity. So that’s what I did. I started saying no to projects, clearing out my schedule. And it worked. I have so much more energy and am now in a place where I enjoy illustrating again.”
“I love all my plants. It used to be that most of them died on me – but that completely changed when we moved to this apartment. Maybe it’s all the sunlight and the large windows but sometimes I can’t even keep up with pruning the greenery.”
“We used to come for walks around here and every time we passed this town house, I’d think: I want to live in this building one day. When the flat became available we couldn’t believe our luck. It’s a really calm and beautiful area with grand Jugendstil villas. And the Bauhaus University is just a stone throw from here, so a lot of students and young families live here. On a Sunday you’ll most likely find us at the local confectioner’s shop – the cakes are a dream.”
Article written by: Lisa Wenske
Photography by: Barbara Cilliers