Utility Follows: In Conversation with Alexander Paar
Let Alexander Paar introduce you tour favourite new trend: Shopping at home. It's not what you think.
There are lots of beautiful homes on Instagram. Spaces so curated that they look as though they're plucked right out of a catalogue. Styled to such an extent that you'd feel guilty sitting on the sofa for fear of ruffling the cushions. Then there is Alexander Paar's apartment.
Don't get us wrong - Alexander's home is still immaculately curated, but rather than looking like a "show home", it looks like a Home. Spaces have been lovingly created and perfected over time and you can just tell that the occupant has gotten to know the apartment through the time he's called it home.
We caught up with Alexander last weekend to talk through his design influences, his approach to interior styling at home and his thoughts on investment pieces.
Alexander, it’s lovely to finally getting speaking to you after having followed your beautiful Instagram journey for so long. Would you mind starting off by telling us a little bit about yourself and where your obvious appreciation of good design comes from?
My interior passion probably comes from my mom. From an early age, I was surrounded by beautiful things and decorations. As a student, I continued this on a small scale in shared rooms and later in my first apartment.
My profession also plays a major role here. As I studied to be a fashion journalist, I simply have a soft spot for design. It doesn't matter to me whether it's ultimately about fashion or interior. Design remains design.
That's why I also feel very comfortable professionally in this environment of fashion, lifestyle and home + living. Because as well as being my job, design is also my hobby.
Your home features a beautifully curated selection of classic designs from some of our favourite brands (Gubi, &Tradition, Vitra, Flos, Knoll at a quick glance). How do you decide upon what products you add to your home and is there an overarching aesthetic you aim to create?
Nowadays I find it very important to choose things consciously and not surround yourself with unnecessary things. We are overwhelmed with information every day, "things" are always available and we're constantly tempted to buy things with an oversupply of new things.
At home, I therefore rather celebrate simplicity, consciously choosing for quality and durability. I do this in all areas: food, interior, fashion. For me, this is also reflected in interior design. The furniture in my home should above all be durable and timeless.
And where does the inspiration come from?
I get my inspiration mainly from travelling and the associated tours through shops, restaurants, bars and hotels. I think that new interior concepts in the restaurant business are very exciting because here, colour and textile variations come together.
At home, I usually research these hotspots via Instagram and Pinterest.
Here at Utility, we only sell authentic designs and feel pretty strongly about choosing originals over reproduction/copies. Is there a particular reason(s) that you choose to invest in true authentic products when buying a copy would be cheaper?
I'm a big fan of modern classics in fashion as well as in interiors. I recommend everyone to invest in beautiful basics of good quality and in timeless furniture classics in muted tones. So you can enjoy it for a long time.
For me, the question is more about longevity. I think it's very important that you choose things consciously and not surround yourself with superfluous things. So I prefer to invest in the originals, as they are basically "investment pieces". A furniture classic from Knoll, Vitra or Gubi does not lose its value. A fake, however, does.
We’ve been spending a lot of time at home recently, as is the case for a lot of people during the pandemic. It’s given us time to think about the spaces in our home and consider how they can be improved. Have you got any home projects in the works / a room you plan to tackle soon?
Furnishing an apartment or house is always a process. There is nothing worse when an apartment or house is completely furnished from the start and even the coffee table books have been curated by an interior designer. The exciting thing about furnishing is trying out and rearranging things.
So, there is no new specific project for me, as I always change something - especially during the seasons. “Shopping at your home” is my recommendation. First I'll see what there is in my apartment. Just by rearranging decorative items, pillows, pictures from other rooms, I get a new look in no time at all.
Are there any furniture or lighting designs sitting at the top of your wishlist that you’re tempted to incorporate into your home?
My absolute favourite is the "Tulip" dining table with a light marble top by Knoll. The organic design of the table by Eero Saarinen is timelessly elegant and the oval shape makes sure that the table is the best place for communication at parties. All I need here is a suitably large dining room so that the table makes sense.
You’ve currently got Instagram stories from Puglia, Venice, Patmos, Vienna, Tel Aviv and more. When it’s safe to do so again, where will be your next holiday destination?
Diana Vreeland, longtime US Vogue editor-in-chief once said: "The eye has to travel". I absolutely agree with her. Because travel is the greatest inspiration for me and very important.
As soon as I can travel again, however, I would first like to see all my friends and family again. A road trip within Germany with a detour to Austria would be my first option.
Bad Gastein in Salzburger Land area is my absolute insider tip. The place used to be known as Monte Carlo of the Alps. Today, creative people are particularly drawn to the place, which is said to have been the inspiration for Wes Anderson’s movie “The Grand Budapest Hotel”. Highly Recommended.
Favourite city break destination: Erste Liebe Bar Hamburg, Germany
Best meal you’ve ever had: My grandmother’s food
Favourite item in your home: Vintage Tecta D4 chair by Marcel Breuer
Last TV series you binge-watched: There are a lot on Netflix: Lupin, Bridgerton, Broadchurch, Riverdale, The Crown
Dream interior purchase: DS-600 by de Sede
Favourite IG accounts: @sedselroug @janaheinrici @saint.fabien @carolinastorm @cupofcouple @hannesmauritzson
All imagery courtesy of Alexander Paar