You are one of the founders of Cee Cee Newsletter. When did you start, what was the main idea behind it?
I was always very curious, ambling openminded through the world, through the city, taking notes and remembering the beautiful little things. Also, I wanted to tell everyone about my exploring and favorite spots. I’ve never understood the secrecy, the enforced coolness, when it comes to nice parties or restaurants. Before you judge something you need to see it. That’s the way it is. And the owner is happy if there are a few more guests than the day before.
Before Cee Cee, I had a blog running but I realized that it’s not easy to keep constant readers. E-mails are simple. They just arrive in your inbox. You sign up once, that’s all. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have an email address. So I created the newsletter together with Nina Trippel, chief editor of DERZEIT, in spring 2011. Nina lives in Neukoelln, I live in Mitte – so it is a perfect supplementation.
Finding the perfect name was far from easy. Nina is primarily a journalist, so the linguistic part is very important to her. Then she liked something and I didn’t. Where we both agreed was “Crimson And Clover” (from the song of Tommy James & The Shondells). The initials are CC – like “carbon copy,” as known from the email-initial. The idea takes place in the logo as well, because it is basically a reflexion of itself. And the notation of Cee Cee simply looks better.
Your main job is being a graphic designer. Do you have some kind of “dream client,” a label or a medium you would love to work with?
I would love to create something for an industrial company. Construction, for instance. Then I ought to think about how the logo on the cement truck or the order sheet should look like. Or I would design an allover-purple scaffolding. People would notice “Oh, the purple scaffolding from that other company…” People should pay attention to companies like that, as well. When it comes to art and fashion, the creative possibilities are pretty exhausted. And the more there is, the more demanding the people get.
What kind of education did you have?
I did an apprenticeship as a typographer for 4 years. 2 days school, 3 days work. We were focusing on road signs, for example. Then I slid more and more into the graphic design scene and suddenly I did a lot of things at the very same time. Graphic Design, Event-management, and also quite in the Hip Hop scene.
What did you exactly do?
I was MC and did rap workshops, parties and a bar, which became a hip hop meeting point once a week in Zurich. We drew in our sketch books and started spraying, the DJs and MCs were playing great music. I’ve been around a lot in the street-art scene and when I moved to Berlin, I still kept djing from time to time. But at one point I decided to end all this. They have always been these very different things I did. Not that it is a bad thing, but a lot of people thought I was primarily the DJ, the party animal, not the graphic designer. The general public needs clarity, something concrete. And I want to be the one with whom you do stuff during the day, not just at night.
You grew up in Zurich. How did you and Rei meet and end up in Berlin?
I was visiting my best friend from Zurich in New York who took me to a pool party where I got to meet Rei. Back then, she still had a boyfriend, who was in Zurich for holidays, funny indeed. We spent a lot of time anyway. When he came back, I told her I will leave and Im not forcing her to anything. But Rei broke up with him and we stayed together. But a long distance relationship wasn’t exactly what we wanted to have, to live. Zurich was too small for Rei and staying in NY wasn’t really an option for me. I am not really comfortable with the values and the consumption behaviour over there. At that point, we’ve heard so many great things about Berlin, it seemed like the best solution. We found a great flat in Prenzlauer Berg without even visiting it before. And two months later, we met there. She came by plane, I came by train. That was 2006.
And what’s your first memory from the city?
My friends Nomad, the street artist, and Dany Wang, the DJ, introduced us to the creative, fun scene, so we were very comfortable right from the start. The apartment evenings, for example. Every tuesday the nicest people I knew met in kind of a secret place near Alexanderplatz, had dinner around a big table and after that we always had a super, nice hip-hop party going on. That was an awesome time. One month later, Rei got pregnant. No surprise – there must be something in the water of Prenzlauer Berg. If you want to get pregnant, you should definitely consider moving there. After Riu was born, we married and stayed here for good.
So although you both come from different countries, Berlin is your hometown now?
Definitely. I think the human is like a plant. You grow up somewhere and due to different reasons you get ripped out and get planted somewhere else. You root with others and bury yourself there. And yes, our roots are growing in Berlin now.
Are you thinking of moving somewhere else one day?
We were thinking about going to Tokyo for two years. Rei’s whole family lives there, so it would be nice for the boys to be involved in the culture. But life is so much cheaper here and therefore easier as well. Rei can stay at home with our younger boy, Seo. We can easily pay a really nice flat and the city offers so much possibilities. Anything you want you can get within this city or at least around. The only thing I miss is the possibility of jumping into a clean lake in my lunch break. But anyway, we manage to be in Japan every year for New Years Eve.
Where you there with Rei for the first time? How did you experience plunging into such a different culture?
Yes. I was completely overwhelmed. You are just in a different universe. But the longer you stay there, the more you recognize decisive little things bothering you. I’m always the foreigner there. There are many different cultures here in Germany as well, but your origin is not that much obvious. Over there you are the white one. Always and forever. Another thing I cant stand is the artificial noise. A lot of my friends find this place, located at Torstraße, too loud. But that’s just cars and people. In New York, it’s crazy cars, crazy people. And in Tokyo almost everything beeps and squeaks and you hear those artificial voices. “Attention, watch your step. Take care! Attention, watch your step, Take care!” – Now that is noise to me.
What is your favorite spot of your current flat?
We moved in with no single piece of furniture. First our couch was the main upgrade. We were doing everything on it, except eating. Now it has been displaced a bit by this super comfortable carpet. I must admit, it is kind of the family stage. When we watch music videos on youtube it becomes our private dance floor. Mostly, Riu chooses the songs and then we either have one-man-performance or throw a big family party.
What is yet to come this year? What is your main goal for this year?
I would be very happy if Cee Cee could be developed to a little business. Slowly but surely we get some requests. But the system around the newsletter is not so easy as you might think. You get an invitation to a restaurant, a bar. Of course they expect you to write something about it. And you get a pretty bad conscience if you do not write something good, as well. But my business model shouldn’t be dinners and drinks for free and being dependent on the other hand. I want to go into advertising, for example, so I don’t need any invitations and therefore I can be entirely free in passing my judgments.
What’s your favorite spot?
Every day I take Riu to day-care before I go to work. As a little stopover, I love having a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice at Cafe Lois in Gormannstraße. That’s my little escape from the every day routine. When I am done with work, I rush home, we make dinner, play with the kids and later on there are still some mails to check. Then I go to bed early, since I have to wake up around 7, latest. So a juice or a cup of coffee without my laptop, without a thousand impressions, just the daily newspaper, is an incredibly precious moment.
Thank you for the great afternoon and your hospitality, Sven! If you want to receive updates on Berlin’s latest events, restaurants and shops, subscribe to Svens newsletter here or visit his homepage.
Interview: Zsuzsanna Toth
Photos: Philipp Langenheim