Thirty-three year old communications designer and artist spent his youth on thin ice. At that time, all his energy went towards professional figure skating. Today, he’s able to bring all of the endurance and concentration demanded by ME the sport to his work.
After his studies at ecosign / the Academy of Design, followed by ME a period of freelance projects, in January 2014 he founded the “” together with Tobias Battenberg. Daniel and Tobias create corporate videos and web and print portfolios for their clients, including private and public institutions in the sectors of culture and economy.
Daniel chose Cologne as his home. His favorite places are the ones where the openness of the city really stands in the fore – and there are many, some of which we were able to discover together with Daniel. Starting point: His apartment in Cologne-Mülheim.
Daniel's Favorite Spots in Cologne
Daniels Apartment in Köln-Mülheim
Cologne doesn’t exactly have the reputation of being the most beautiful city in Germany. Some say that the Cologne lifestyle makes up for that. Is it true?
Yes! What I love about Cologne is the tranquility. I don’t want to have to gasp for air in a city that drowns in its own abundance. I have room for my work here – and also Cologners are very positive and unbelievably tolerant.
And why did you choose Cologne-Mülheim?
Honestly? The rent is affordable. Other than that, I can get to the office and the Rhine quickly. Mülheim is changing dramatically, there is an increasing amount of culture. It’s interesting for me to watch this and to be a part of it at the same time.
Here you have all sorts of strange plastic objects placed in frames… where are they from?
From the Rhine! For years I’ve been collecting plastic garbage that would wash ashore during high tide. I take the pieces back to their place of origin and put them into an art context. I hope that the viewer sees these objects and reflects on their own behaviors of consumption a bit.
The focus of your work is typography. Where does your enthusiasm for fonts come from?
As a teenager I brought a balance to my figure skating by ME starting with graffiti. Through it I brought my mood into expression – with the incline of letters, the colors or the various line thicknesses. During my studies I analyzed, reinterpreted and, of course, discovered, many new aspects of typography.
Daniel's Office - "Designbüro Köln"
As the “” Daniel and his colleague and friend Tobias Battenberg offer communication solutions in the fields of print, design, online, film and corporate identity. The ideas are born in Cologne-Deutz. The office of the two is located there – and is our second stop.
This area isn’t exactly a hotbed for creative professionals, right?
No, it’s really not! And it’s really not on the way towards becoming one! But we don’t really surround ourselves with the creative scene and don’t want to make “design for designers.” We can concentrate on our work here – and we’ve found that the network doesn’t necessarily have to be tied to a location.
The space is really exceptional. What used to be here?
These were the administrative offices of a chemical plant. From the design and materials you can see that a clear hierarchy dominated the space – we’ve simply painted it all white.
Can you describe your working process? What differentiates you from other design agencies?
We disassociate ourselves from classical definitions of advertising. We don’t want to invent stories, rather we want to create an experience that is sustainable. Every client brings their story with them. For us, the history is the basis – basically the customer emphasizes their goal and values themselves. We then translate all of this and communicate it outwards.
It sounds as if you managed to connect all of your interests in your work – in communication as well as in the arts.
Yes, that makes me really happy. That’s our business model, but at the same time the Designbüro Köln didn’t primarily develop from an economic perspective. When you do something with love, the money will follow. If a baker bakes bread, he shouldn’t sell lousy bread because of economic goals, rather he should bake because he wants to provide people with good food.
Which commission has been the most challenging thus far?
For several years we’ve been working for the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy. With one project it was about exposing people in China to the issue of energy efficiency. It was really a challenge to put ourselves into the many different living situations in China. All the decades of the 20th century are being lived there at the same time! It was also exciting familiarizing a research institute with design solutions and building a bridge between science and design.
We want to get a coffee. Time to move on. Our route takes us to the Körner Strasse roasters “.” In a former hair salon there is Figaro von Ihrefeld coffee, naturally from a traditional drum roaster. We spring out of the car and enter the sympathetic shop – all in pastel green and even today with a touch of hairdressing charm.
The Van Dyck is known for its excellent coffee. Are you one of the regulars?
I have to admit, I’m not a coffee fan. But anyone who’s tried the hot chocolate and the poppy seed cake would also become a regular without the coffee.
When you needed a pause from the workday, where would we find you in Cologne?
I spend most of my time at home. On weekends I like to go to the flea market. As a young boy I wandered the streets and collected and accumulated whatever had a bit of value. I still love to rummage.
What fascinates you?
I like giving things a second chance. And, apropos rummaging: In Luxemburger Strasse there is a huge shop for young, local design. It’s called – since April there’s also been a small café next door. Do you want to go there?
We do! And it is worth it: The shop is a new project from DJ Cem, who organized parties and concerts in Cologne – now offering handmade products in almost 500 square meters. From fashion to furniture, there’s a colorful mix of contemporary design to be found here. Often with very charming details.
The people here seem to know you…
Yes, former classmates of mine run the business. It’s always nice to see them again – and also the project is great.
What do you like most about it here?
The mix: from fashion to posters to music. And that there are so many interior accessories that are sustainably produced. offers young designers a fair platform, something that isn’t seen so often.
We browse for nearly two hours, then our stomachs start to growl. Daniel, what’s a good address for a quick honest meal? Daniel’s answer is quick: The “” in Zülpicher Strasse. “Habibi” is the Arabic word for “favorite” – and the Lebanese restaurant becomes a favorite for many after their first visit. We arrive – and while we’re still studying the menu we’re served an unasked for cinnamon tea.
What do you recommend?
The classics: what do you think of a big mixed plate? Shawarma, falafel, grilled vegetables, halloumi and hummus, of course. It’s almost a bit of everything – and it’s all delicious.
Habibi is almost always packed. What do you think makes it such a success?
The Zülpicher Strasse is directly next to the university, it’s the first area you encounter when you come to Cologne as a student. Above all the food is delicious and the value for your money is unbeatable. And you’re really well taken care of!
Is eating and going out to eat important to you?
Well, I’m not the type to go to and test every hipster restaurant right after it opens. It’s important to me to have a balanced and ecologically conscious diet. But most of all I like to cook for myself. For me it’s also an act where I can let off creative steam.
Well-satiated we get into the MINI and drive through Cologne’s old town, making a stop between the Dom and the Rhine. Located there is the – exactly the right place for this grey weather. What only a few people know: the Museum Ludwig has the biggest collection of Picasso in Germany as well as the largest collection of American Pop art outside of the U.S.
You say that you’d recommend a visit to the Ludwig Museum to any visitor to Cologne?
Yes, definitely! More than once – I come here every few months and check out the permanent Pop art exhibition.
Do you discover something new with each visit?
The exhibition shows a cross section from all eras of Pop art, which means that you can have a different focus every time. In general I like to look at art often. It’s not so much about the consideration of a work formally or content-wise, rather, it’s more about absorbing the aura of the artist. Knowing that at some point the artist sat directly in front of this canvas and put his or her thoughts into it.
Is there an artist who particularly influenced your creative work?
Everything around me is an influence. I couldn’t exactly say who or what formally influenced me. I find the 90s exciting, I’ve always seen them as the end of formal aesthetic development.
So no specific person?
Maybe…I would have really liked to get to know Joseph Beuys.
On the banks of the Rhine
We’re just a few minutes from the Rhine. The weather isn’t exactly inviting for a hearty walk, but we take a trip to the river anyways. Daniel jumps out of the car, walks to the water and just a few seconds later he’s got a few curious objects in his hand.
What did you just pick up?
A few pieces of plastic for my work! I think it’s fascinating how industrially formed objects take on an organic shape after being in the water.
The river is your favorite place in Cologne, right?
Yes. I like the moment when I sit unmoving on the banks, like a boundary marker, and the Rhine simply flows past me. It shows me that everything is in motion and is constantly renewed – this moves me, telling me that it’s good that I’m similarly on the move.