portrait of Denise Zimmer in her painting studio

Appreciative Inquiry: Studio visit with Denise Zimmer


For the fifth interview for this space, I invited myself over to Artist Denise Zimmer’s stunning apartment in Schöneberg. Denise is an Illustrator, Interior designer and Art Therapist. Her Instagram account reveals her love for curation, it is a peek into her personal extremely tasteful mash up of collections, new and vintage, Mid century and handmade which reflects the sweetness of her illustrations and her thoughts on sustainable living. I hope you enjoy getting to know Denise a little better, just like I did. 

Vivian: What is your native language?

Denise: It's German.


Vivian: What does adventure look like to you?

Denise: Sometimes it‘s in the very tiny things, for example, to explore a new street in Berlin. That's what I really like about this city… that I've been living here for over 10 years now and still, sometimes it feels like a little adventure when you get off the underground at a new station and just explore... The pandemic showed me that you don't necessarily have to travel to Japan to experience any adventure.

Vivian: What advice would you give to yourself a year ago?

Denise: That everything is going to be alright and you don't have to fear about times when you can't plan everything. I think the pandemic showed me, or maybe showed a lot of people that it's harder to plan your life… this caused some anxiety, and now I've learned that you can adapt to every new situation, and that there are a lot of things that just happen without making plans… I would like to give myself the advice, don't be afraid of letting go.

Image Credit Denise Zimmer

Vivian: what are you working on right now?

Denise:I am going to do some bigger canvases again. In my head I am already painting, but sometimes it‘s a little difficult to get started. As an art therapist, i know that the withe space can cause anxiety which you have to overcome…and at some point you just have to begin, <laugh>  that's what I tell my patients, and now I have to tell it to myself <laugh> 

I am planning a seasonal calendar for vegetables and that's a thing I have had for a long time in my mind, but now I think the ideas are getting more concrete… how I want it to look like in the end. So I'm working on that, and I'm always working on little postcard motifs…

Yes, I always have a lot of things going on in my mind and have problems to sort it or to set priorities…but I think that this is also a part of me, which will never change completely, and I should maybe learn to accept it. In the end it’s worse for me to have an empty mind.

Denise Zimmer Illustrator, her hand holding a paint brush

Vivian: Do you have rituals or tricks or habits that you do in order to find inspiration or to get yourself in the space ready to be creative?

Denise: Although I love living in Berlin, I think it is very important for me to escape the city from time to time and surround myself with nature. … I like to draw at my desk, but sometimes I have the feeling when I went on vacation, I always come back with a lot of ideas and then I'm very excited to bring them on paper… I love to see the work of other artists and just get inspired about their creativity or the colors they use.

I think it would be very hard for me to work as a graphic designer and have to deal with deadlines, because for me, when I plan, okay, tomorrow evening, I'm, going to be creative, sometimes it works… but sometimes you're just not open for it. I really admire people who can do that.

Vivian: Do you find more inspiration from living in Berlin or from living online?

Denise: I would say, Hmm. It's 60/40, so 60% offline and 40% online. And that's crazy. To just say that that's 40 online <laugh> But yeah, we are living in a digital world and … You can really get a lot of inspiration on the internet… I like the idea that you can get so much inspiration from all over the world, just being in your safe space… but I think it's also very important to keep your eyes open when you're in the real world, and in the world that really surrounds you in your daily life… I think it's important to keep a balance so that it feels good for yourself. I love to visit Gallerys. 

Portrait of Denise Zimmer in her Kitchen

Vivian: In what ways does the art that you create and the work that you do translate into how you dress yourself?

Denise: I do think it’s affecting my way of clothing myself, but I think it's still more what I see on the streets or what my friends are

wearing or what I'm seeing on Instagram… I think in the past years I got a little bit more colorful with my clothing because five or six years ago, I was dressed mostly in black, white, gray, <Laugh> and beige…I mean, it's also a trendy thing to be more colorful right now, but I think I like to combine, or I’m always looking if the colors are matching… When I'm looking at my apartment and how to style it, colors play a big role for me…I think somehow I want to create my kind of harmony.

Image Credit Denise Zimmer Bird watercolour
Image Credit Denise Zimmer

Vivian: How would you describe your personal style?

Denise: On workdays my style is kind of functional, sometimes also a little bit feminine-elegant... I also like dresses, but I can‘t wear them, when I‘m riding my bike through the City. So dresses are for no-bike-days. 

I buy a lot of my clothes second hand, and when I see something I like, I try to ask myself the question: would I still wear this piece in two years from now or is it too trendy?

Portrait of Denise Zimmer in her studio

Vivian: Do you have a favorite sustainability trick or swap that you've incorporated into your life recently?

Denise: I really try not to throw clothes easily away, instead I try to repair it or give it to a friend who can repair it because when I still like wearing it and there's just a hole…it is always worth to save it. As I mentioned second hand clothing is a thing, or I discover small sustainable brands on Instagram for example and try to support them. Sometimes there are really great ideas, I have a backpack made of recycled plastic bottles and bags made out of paragliders. <Laugh> I really like this idea of upcycling. you can also find a lot of upcycled furniture in my apartment. 

Vivian: What do you keep in your U.BAG?

Denise: On my list is still the SPORT.BAG.  When I take my U.BAG, I take my phone, my key,... and a smaller wallet… maybe a lip balm or something with me. Yeah. And that's it!

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