“I would never purchase work to store somewhere else, but to have it present in my life in front of my eyes.”

Freunde von Freunden cofounder Timmi Seifert tells us about his company’s explosive expansion, the difficulty he has in getting a moment’s peace and the truth behind Miami Art Basel.

FAM: How did you come up with the idea of FvF?
Timmi: Freunde von Freunden started as an idea I had with my co-founders Frederik Frede and Torsten Bergler to interview creative friends in Berlin, it has grown and grown from a simple Berlin project to a global creative community and cultural production agency.

Images: © Juliane Spaete

Image: © Juliane Spaete

How did you go about the development process from a simple idea into a credible brand?
We consider everyone we interview a friend—even the brands and companies we work with on a more commercial level. Now we have over 550 interviews in over 90 cities around the world. We have 15 full time staff and over 150 freelancers working around the world, this has become a huge enterprise but we are still a closeknit company.

What are the reasons for your success in your opinion?
I am fairly bored of the word “authentic”, but sometimes there is no way to avoid it. We aim to be authentic! We want to inspire people with great storytelling and diverse international content. This is one of our mantras, we avoid artificiality, and I think people enjoy the experience of working with us.

Created in collaboration with Swiss manufacturer Vitra, the FvF Apartment in Berlin is a physical expression of their online publication. Images: © Juliane Spaete

Image: © Juliane Spaete

How are you looking to expand FvF in the future? 
We are moving much more into consultancy and building up our production agency departments and expanding into new realms. If we had to choose we would be far more focused on the magazine side of things. It is much more fulfilling than the consultancy and services side which is way more time consuming. 

Is it a job that comes home with you at night?
Oh absolutely, I have a problem switching off with all the new ideas and collaborations coming our way and the fact that we are with friends makes it never ending. Sometimes I have to turn my phone onto flight mode for a minute’s peace. Even our holidays are networking opportunities as we meet new people. I need a cabin in the desert really! 

Image: © Juliane Spaete

Images: © Juliane Spaete

What are your movements in the art world? 
We were in Art Basel Miami last year and I was shocked at the extent to which networking lies at the center of fairs like these, it’s almost as if the art is secondary. We are more interested in getting involved in the art world. We are good friends with many gallerists like Johann König, Alexander Levy, Eigen + Art, Blain Southern and many more. Silke Neumann and Bureau N have been long-time friends and very supportive. We feel there is a natural connection between our community and the art world. Lots of our portraits in the beginning had a focus on art, artists, and their personal environment. 

Timmi Seifert in the Vitra Apartment kitchen. Image: © Juliane Spaete

Do you change the art on the walls on a regular basis?
All spaces and offline projects we’re planning are somehow inspired by our online magazine and the creative talents that we present globally. This can be interior design brands or independent artists. I can’t name any partners for the new space, but it will be an interesting selection and a nice combination of disciplines.

Do you have a skate background or why did you decide to put a focus on skate and street art in here?
We actually grew up with the skate and street art scene, so it’s always been a huge part of FvF.

What is your favorite piece of art or design in this flat?
The Burmester audio and sound system specifically customized for the FvF Apartment. But this is very subjective of course and Dieter Burmester is an old family friend of mine. Sadly, he passed away last year, but this is a great memory we will always carry with us.

Plant-in City Terrariums by Huy Bui

Who is the artist behind the succulent installation in the bathroom?
That was made by the artist and architect Huy Bui. He made these plant-in city terrariums for us which are also available in our shop in a limited edition. The interior design and architecture was done by our friend Etienne Descloux who also designed the FvF Apartment as the main architect. The fittings are provided by Dornbracht, all beauty products come from Aesop.

You have had unprecedented access to hundreds of homes and seen many creative solutions to modern living, but what we would like to know is what role you think art has to play in these homes? 
Artwork can be decorative, add to the interior design, and sometimes even calm you down I believe. I’ve found that the best combinations of art and interior design are in the homes of people who have a personal connection to the artwork on display. This also relates to my own views on buying art, since I would never purchase work to store somewhere else, but to have it present in my life in front of my eyes. 

Image: © Juliane Spaete

And finally what does FvF have up its sleeve? 
We’re constantly optimizing our workflow, our team and editorial output. We will introduce some new shorter formats to FvF and expand our international activities, both for the magazine and agency. And there will most likely be a new print product and maybe even a new space we’re opening. There are lots of opportunities and we’re trying to select the best ones.

Find out more about Freunde von Freunden.

Interview by Duncan Ballantyne-Way — Senior Editor