The amazing room miracle in wild Wedding must be seen as a fusion of living gallery, concept store and event space all in one. "I think of myself as a curator," says Chris Glass. "I curate spaces, communities and moments." What he values most of all is sharing among people. That is why aptm hosts event such as parties, photo shoots and workshops. "I want my guests to feel as if a good friend with a superb sense of interior design has given them the key to his apartment and invited them to throw a dinner party." How we would love to be a dinner guest too!
Interior designer, individualist, self–starter: Chris Glass has a flair for the unusual – and the courage to bet everything on a single card. His latest coup is aptm, an unique living gallery in Berlin. In an interview with Avoury's editorial staff, he speaks about what it means to take a plunge into the unknown.
We leave the rough Berlin district of Wedding with its colourfully sprayed tenements outside, getting off the wet street to enter an old factory that is reaching towards the skies; three storeys, old-fashioned windows. Nothing special. Nothing to suggest the impressive space that waits a few steps above us: a loft furnished like a private apartment. And not just any old apartment – 230 square meters of lifestyle in a class of its own, a showroom for hand-picked art, interior design and accessories. It's a space that compels you to pause and marvel, a work of art in itself – a space that goes by the humble name of "aptm". This is short for a place to meet.
Chris Glass brings special pieces from around the world to this place and combine them in an entirely new way. If you’re expecting the latest trends, you'll be disappointed: "aptm is inspired by my personal style – my way of staging objects, telling stories and celebrating ideas. What matters to me is not fashions and trends, but my individual experiences." We see straight away that Chris Glass is not just a founder – he is an artist.
Founding aptm at the end of 2017 was not the first time Chris Glass took a leap of faith. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, he came to Germany in 1999 after completing his studies in musical theatre and spending some time in New York – without being able to speak a single word of German. "I knew practically no-one and had no idea what to expect. It was a quantum leap for me." Perhaps it is because of this experience that Chris Glass won't easily be thrown off course today. He spent a few years in marketing, after which he moved to Berlin. There he became a pioneer again – as the first Membership Manager of the newly founded Soho House Berlin, he helped to bring people from the creative scene together and build a community. Today he is the European Membership Director and works worldwide for Soho House, from Amsterdam to Cape Town to Mumbai. And at the same time, he is getting aptm off the ground. Berlin is the perfect place for this, says Chris Glass. "Here you can try new things; the city allows you to think and act out of the box."
We want to know where he finds the courage to jump in the deep end like this, because that's what we all want – to live fearlessly, to be courageous, to enjoy life to the fullest. "I just tackle things head-on and allow myself to be guided; I go with the flow and enjoy learning new things," the 42–year–old sums it up. Intuition is crucial if you're going to navigate unfamiliar terrain. "Sometimes it happens that my body is downright shivering. That's when I know I'm on the right track. When that happens, I stop, reflect on the situation, bring my knowledge, my feelings and my sensory impressions together – and venture further." Small rituals also help – such as saying a prayer every day. "I ask for guidance and try to figure out the best way to make a contribution." Mention courage, Chris Glass wants a new perspective more than anything else: "We often only see the big acts of heroism, but there can also be courage in small moments. Sometimes it takes guts to go out and give the world a smile." Constant change shapes his life in the little things too: Chris Glass regularly transforms aptm too. Each time he does so, he does something special to address his experiences or his history. Once he would touch on his African roots, at other times address questions such as: What is typically German? He tells stories with every detail – down to the dinner service and the cutlery. "At the moment, aptm is less top-heavy than before, with the space expressing a special ambience that I call Bohemian Chic." His favourite objects include, for example, a ceramic vase collection by an Israeli designer that Chris Glass discovered in Tel Aviv and a table lamp made of feathers. "It almost seems as if it just begs to be touched."
For Chris Glass, these ideas come from all over the world: "Travelling is my source of inspiration. If I stay in one place too long, I start to feel suffocated. Travelling is my salvation – and my university of life. It not only gives me insights into different cultures, it also teaches me what it means to be human. The places I visit and the experiences I collect there – that’s what shapes me, what makes me who I am." Along his travels, the tea cultures around the globe have aroused his curiosity. He is fascinated by the different ways in which tea is celebrated. Chris Glass has had some very special tea experiences – from high tea at Harrods in London to Turkish tea on a Bosphorus ferry in Istanbul. He prefers tea to coffee: "With tea I do something good for myself. It helps me calm down and think in peace."
We realise that Chris Glass’ attitude of being cosmopolitan, letting go of any fear of contact and being open to new ideas is something that can be learned. But being born with a creative streak does help. Chris Glass’ passion for art, interiors and design has deep roots. His father was a florist, his mother runs a catering service and collects art, and even his grandparents had a weakness for antiques. "Even as a child, I constantly redesigned my bedroom. I always had new stories to tell that I wanted to share with other people. My crayons fascinated me and I always wanted to play with the different colours." Today, aptm offers him the ideal stage to bring his ideas to life. "Deep down, I have a longing for beauty and harmony. Essentially, it’s always about trying new things, it’s so exciting to me, it’s a downright pleasure."
Chris Glass is a phenomenon, a rarity. With aptm, he has created a place that sets new standards and gives the art and design circles something to talk about – way beyond Berlin. We look forward in anticipation to future installations, ideas and projects. "There is a time and place for everything," says Chris Glass. You just have to take the plunge.