5 Quick Ones with Steen Rothenberger

Interview Steen Rothenberger

5 Quick Ones with Steen Rothenberger

Dr. Steen Rothenberger is a well-known name in Frankfurt and internationally, which is not surprising when you see the list of projects he has launched in Main Metropole. He knows the regional real estate industry like no other and is the founder of the atelier house Der kleine Mann mit dem Blitz, of the boutique hotel Libertine Lindenberg, the Lindley Lindenberg Hotel and the worldwide first vegan Michelin-starred restaurant Seven Swans - to name just a few of his hip locations.

Fantastic Frank: How do you assess the current development of the Frankfurt real estate market?

Steen Rothenberger: Frankfurt remains stable. Yes, the hotel real estate market has collapsed, the office real estate market is struggling with self-doubt due to changing work practices and the price pressure on the (light) industrial segment caused by declining tenant credit ratings is also growing, but hey, the residential real estate market is still brimming with excess demand. If any product has proven stability during the crisis, it's Frankfurt real estate. All the talk about urban flight, the impact of home offices and the supposed permanent decline in professional travel due to Zoom & Co. wears me down. If isolation has taught us anything, it must be that people need people. Frankfurt will remain an urban center of attraction for people who want to see and touch each other. And that's exactly why Frankfurt will remain stable.

FF: You regularly launch new projects. Where do you take the inspiration for your projects?

SR: It's usually easy to be inspired. That makes it all the more difficult to free yourself from all the influences that come crashing down on you and create something that at least has the claim to be unique and at the same time withstand the changing times. The fact that this can never succeed, of course, is not decisive. I have tried to stop looking at too much contemporary architecture. Rather, I'm trying to better understand why architecture and design that has surrounded us for a longer period of time is given the predicate of timeless greatness. In addition, we always help ourselves to non-genre things first: a first mood board will thus never consist of architectural photos, sample projects or interior photography, but usually of a play of colors, a melody or a sound image, readings, landscape photography, scraps of fabric or pure forms.

FF: Your favorite dish? And where do we get it?

SR: Indonesian-Surinamese Tempe. At De Javaan, a small take-away shop in the Statenkwartier in The Hague. My friend Guillaume recreates his Surinam-born mother's recipes in a way that not only fills the stomach, but brings a happy heart also. Vegan, of course.

FF: An interior trend that may stay?

SR: Hello-Darkness-My-Old-Friend. New Work and now a pandemic have transformed our homes into (hopefully only) temporary workplaces. Some designers are now even talking about Zoom-friendly spaces and recommending more practicality, brighter hues and even more comfortable furniture. I find the idea of hijacking the power of the sweet melancholy of a dark and heavy space by over-functioning and pushing for even more comfort terrifying. My favorite rooms are usually slightly dark, melancholic, and yes, often impractical. So what.

FF: What’s currently "In The Making" with you?

SR: A wooden house on a teeny tiny island in Norway, a boutique hotel in Bali and a collaborative living project in Sierra Leone. Good things are supposedly so close. Well...