When your dad is a gallerist, you quickly learn that there is more to art than meets the eye. Just ask Katharina Marie Herold. As a child, she would spend hours next to her father, Rainer, poking around his collection of earthenware, medieval enamel, and intricate antiquities. “He would encourage me to pick a piece and learn about it, using all my senses,” Herold says, laughing. “How did the silver pieces taste different from the brass ones? What sound did the porcelain make?” It was a very physical introduction to the art world—one that influences her sense of design today.
“I love textures,” says Herold. “I love traces of manual labor in handmade objects; little imperfections.”
Herold brought her father’s lessons and her own considerable experience—after earning a master’s degree in art history, she worked at Christie’s auction house—to her new apartment in Hamburg, Germany. Today she works as an art consultant, and the 2019 move offered her the opportunity to become her own client.
While her father’s classical influence is evident throughout the rental, Herold has definitely put her own eclectic spin on the space. It’s not uncommon to see mod paintings hanging next to filigreed metalwork or gestural pieces intermingling with those with a romantic flair. The pieces of art are not sheltered behind glass or locked away; they interact with the surrounding furniture and decor. Herold says the goal of this mashup is to “create a dialogue that spans different centuries.”
The home was built in 1872, but many of the rental’s more decorative elements, including its ornate plaster molding, were added during a revamp in the 1890s. Since moving in, Herold has treated the accent like one would a frame, using it to outline and draw the eye to pieces by Viennese artist Max Freund and Hamburg local Daniel Hörner, to name a few.
Some pieces on display are more sentimental. “Each item in my apartment tells a story,” she says, adding that her favorite is a 1960s collage her father gave her when she landed her first job at an auction house. It features the phrase Pray and work, and his simple inscription on the back wishes her luck.
In this home, though, the definition of art is not reserved for items that can float in a frame or sit on a plinth. For Herold, art comes in many forms—1980s toile wallpaper included. The vintage rolls had been gathering dust in her home for quite some time before inspiration struck her father: Why not use them to turn the bland double doors in Herold’s apartment into a fun showpiece?
Once hung, Herold knew her father’s instinct was right. The intricate pattern proved to be the perfect complement to some of the home’s classical elements, like its pair of crystal chandeliers from 1910.
She planned out another clever installation herself—she has always loved the look of bed canopies, so she tracked down a bed crown and dipped into her collection of deadstock fabric (she picks up bolts whenever the price is right) to create a one-of-a-kind version for her room. Right before she installed it, however, she came across a piece of art that fit perfectly between the chair rail and the bedroom ceiling. Determined to display the canopy, Herold did some brainstorming and eventually used it to accent the hallway leading to the kitchen instead. The install was surprisingly simple: “It has a chain that you attach to a hook screwed into the wall, and then it rests on two nails. It’s my Marie Antoinette entrance,” she adds.
These days, Herold has been enjoying extra time at home with her partner, Leon. Before they began social distancing, the couple would take ping-pong paddles to the nearby park and play each other on the public tables. “We’re very competitive,” she says with a grin. During one trip, they ran into a fellow player who was moving and looking to quickly get rid of his table. They jumped at the opportunity, and the trio quickly laid out the terms of the trade: One ping-pong table in exchange for some nice wine and cheese.
Now whenever Herold needs a break from work, she retreats to the garden for a quick game.