When Victoria-Maria Geyer was presented with an opportunity to design a home in Zurich, it felt like a dream come true. That home was a Brutalist masterpiece by renowned Swiss architect Ernst Gisel was—for the Hamburg-born, Brussels-based interior designer—a career-defining moment. “When the homeowners asked me to come on board, I had to do this,” Geyer said, pinching his own hand. “They sent me pictures of the house, and immediately I was seduced.” The gravitational pull of the home lured Geyer from Brussels to Zurich with the task of adding heat and texture to concrete and steel.
Located in Küsnacht, a wealthy enclave some 15 minutes by car from Zurich’s city center, the home was purchased by the clients in 2021. While the shell of the structure was a Brutalist marvel, the interiors left a lot to be desired. “The previous owners lived in the house as it was built,” Geyer explains. “There’s a term in French, dans son propre jus, which means to soak in ones juice. That was the problem with the interiors. So I had to go in and really change the atmosphere.”
What makes interior renovations hard is working within a predefined space. What makes it even harder is when that predefined space is cast in concrete from the hand of an iconic architect. “Because Gisel’s design was so unique, I couldn’t just go in with the materials I love working with; silk, velvet. I had to conjure what the space allowed me to use.” This meant Geyer implemented a palate of blues, grays, whites. “I used metal, but then contrasted it with rough textures such as fabrics, stones. It was a challenge to not use the materials I typically gravitated towards, but what a rewarding experience it proved to be.”
While the end result was one the designer and homeowners came to love, getting to that point was a logistical nightmare. “It was my first project in Switzerland,” Geyer explained, “and I didn’t know the hoops I would have to jump through in declaring every little thing that I brought in from different parts of the world.” The interior designer is now working on several other homes throughout Switzerland, and has vowed not to make the same administrative mistakes.
But for Geyer, the headaches made the end results all the more meaningful. “My favorite part of the home begins and ends with the kitchen,” she says with a smile. “I love the curtains, because they bring such a textured splash of color to the room. I had to be measured with these moments, to not cannibalize the artwork on the walls. But, for me it’s really the green table that anchors the space.” Geyer designed the table, along with an assortment of other pieces of furniture throughout the house. “The fact that I was able to bring my own designs into the home made it all the more meaningful.”
The clients are serious art collectors with two children running around; a recipe, some may muse, for disaster. “The homeowners are very down-to-earth and have a good sense of humor,” Geyer says. “They have a lot of beautiful art on their walls, but they want to live in a home, not a museum. I mean, look, their philosophy is: Don’t stop your life because you have kids. They have white carpet in their home. If that doesn’t sum up how relaxed they are with kids running around, I don’t know what will.”