small loft apartment in an enviable position in the centre of Berlin, architect Ester Bruzkus’ home makes us smile right away. Vibrant colours, sharp contrasts, as well as a delicate mix and a range of diverse materials; this forms a most unconventional and dynamic space. We also have styles from different periods and cultures – in no particular order: the fifties, vintage, Japan, modern, the great classics and own designs. They come together in a harmonious mix, almost as if it were the designer’s manifesto, especially intended for fighting-off the harshness of the all-white minimalist interior.
Mix and match; this is Ester’s motto. Ester herself is a mix of different cultures and experiences. Of Russian origin, Ester was born in Haifa in Israel, brought up in Berlin where she completed her degree, and then attended a masters in Paris. In 2012, after travelling extensively around the United States, she set up studio Bruzkus Batek with her German colleague Patrick Batek. Here, she managed to turn her great curiosity and risk taking propensity into liveable designs.
We are in the most unconventional city in Germany, and this building with flexible accommodation (Flexibles Wohnen) is part of the many cutting edge regeneration projects, built in the late nineties around Prenzlauer Berg (ex East Berlin). Designed by architect Wolfram Popp using concrete, iron and glass, its concept is a simple one: bathroom and kitchen in a service core, the rest of the space is open plan, separated by elegant floor-to-ceiling folding screens in timber.
The loft apartment occupies the entire depth of the building. Balconies, which are 40 cm higher than internal floors, run the entire length of both facades. The raised floor continues indoors as a platform for almost 2 metres; this allows you to form secluded spaces like bedroom and living room or by opening the French doors, a real terrace. This is a really clever project, which has found great favour with the many architects and artists who moved here. So much so that the same concept was replicated in a second building.
On the same side as the kitchen, Ester has used the raised platform as a prelude to the balcony, whereas on the opposite side she has made the space wide enough for a bedroom. Inspiration for what she calls “my little Japanese box” came during a trip to Japan, where she stayed in the legendary Hotel Okura Tokyo, built in the sixties (currently being pulled down!). Her hotel room was decorated in a conscious contrast, a choice she favours. In general, you couldn’t quite picture this vast range of materials being used together (different types of wood, tiles and lamps), however when mixed with clean shapes they actually form a harmonious mix.
Concrete, marble, iron and timber...and then turquoise, yellow, orange, pale pink and black, and again soft carpets in faded tones, cold polished surfaces, warm natural oak... We aren’t describing an apartment where chaos reigns supreme, but instead an enchanting unconventional home, where a range of different materials are skilfully used together. Ester’s singular mix results in a wonderfully harmonious environment. Finally, the war on boring and sterile spaces has been declared!
City apartment interior
Location: Berlin. Germany
Size: 100 sqm approx.
Lighting: PSLab, Stuttgart
Interior design project and furniture sourcing:
Bruzkus Batek Architekten Partnerschaft
Schwedter Straße 34a, 10435 Berlin
Team: Ester Bruzkus, Patrick Batek, Zlatan Kukic
Tel: 0049 (0) 30 440 421 32
Photos: Courtesy Bruzkus Batek,
Credits Jens Bösenberg