The Style Files: Benni Frowein

1650 Schumacher

The Style Files is one of my favorite series to research and write on La Dolce Vita because it helps me to get to know people that I admire on a more personal level, or in the case of today’s guest, Benni Frowein, it provides the opportunity to learn more about people in pivotal roles within the design industry. Benni is the President of my go-to fabric house, Schumacher, where he oversees and drives the company’s business divisions while working in close collaboration with creative director Dara Caponigro to lead the company. Prior to joining Schumacher in 2016, Benni spent ten years at the Boston Consulting Group, one of the world’s top business consulting firms. His marketing and sales expertise propelled transformation and growth in client companies across the globe. Benni was born in Europe, where he spent his formative years. He holds a dual degree in international business administration from Spain’s Universidad Pontificia Comillas and Germany’s European School of Business. He’s an avid traveler and has a penchant for months-long backpacking adventures. A true trailblazer in every sense of the word, Benni’s business acumen, joie de vivre, and passion for design are already being felt through Schumacher’s latest marketing initiatives and product offerings. I hope that you’ll enjoy getting to know Benni in today’s installment of The Style Files!

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Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Benni Frowein: Casual elegance is what I strive for in my homes. It’s all about the materials; I love black and green marble, polished concrete, and dark or light-grey herringbone parquet. Whenever I can, I use silk velvets, moirés and richly textured linens. To offset the formality of those materials, I keep the space airy and I mix things from different periods. This might mean using a simple neutral linen for curtains or combining a Louis XV Secretary with a mid-century Platner chair. Last but not least, I try to create a space that invites guests to explore by blending in some unexpected, humorous or interesting accessories. I travel a lot and I love to collect objects from around the world. I’ve placed these pieces throughout my apartment. In addition to having personal significance to me, it’s always a fun topic when I entertain.

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PC: How did growing up in Europe influence your style?

BF: There are two European decorating practices that I continue to adhere to in New York: an appreciation for small-scaled furniture and a natural inclination to mix styles. Europe is small in comparison to the U.S. and spaces there are much smaller too. This is why we have a different sense for proportions. I love small, very delicate chairs with thin legs and a petite frame. The same with sofas and benches. My penchant for mixing styles comes from growing up in a very traditional home with lots of antiques, old Persian rugs and heirloom pieces of silver. That may sound glamorous, but it can really be very challenging to make these things work together. They were mostly inherited over generations and never meant to be paired together. Buying new furniture was not something that crossed my parents’ minds, they would rather restore an old piece they loved and “make it work.” Living with what you have and the deliberate mixing of styles is very European to me.

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PC: What does your home say about you?

BF: Definitely that I am European! Guests tend to quickly grasp that I love to travel to exotic places around the world. Although, in some ways, I live the typical NYC life – an empty fridge and an oven that probably isn’t even working!

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PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

BF: Inspiration comes whenever I am able to clear my mind, which is easiest for me when I travel. Trips to Namibia, Syria, Mexico and Japan all left their own unique impressions on me. I also love to spend time with my family and friends. I can recharge my batteries and open my mind to fresh ideas.

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{A Recent trip to the South of France via Benni’s Instagram}

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

BF: I have never really had icons in the traditional sense. I just try – every day over again – to be myself.

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PC: What trait do you most admire in a person?

BF: As a manager, I value respect and fairness. That’s how I treat my team and how I wish to be treated myself. In my friends, I value true loyalty and real interest in what moves my head and heart.

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PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

BF: Definitely Haribo – those delicious German gummy bears are my weakness!

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PC: Who or what has been your greatest professional influence?

BF: My three siblings. I am the youngest of 4. All my siblings are very successful in what they do. They are my biggest supporters as well as my greatest challengers. I value both aspects of those relationships tremendously and I need a healthy dose of each on a regular basis.

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PC: What is your idea of “living la dolce vita”?

BF: Most of the time, I work very hard, which I enjoy tremendously. But sometimes, when I am under a lot of pressure I think, gosh, why didn’t I become a surf instructor somewhere on the white beaches of Mexico? Maybe one day…

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PC: What can we look forward to next from you?

BF: I have always believed that you’re only successful if you take a fresh, smart approach and try to stand out from the pack. That’s how we do things at Schumacher. We devote rigorous attention to product quality and detail. Those traits made Schumacher successful in the first place, but we have also started doing many things very differently. Every month we launch fresh and exciting collections – it’s really a new era here at Schumacher. Our Marketing – both digital and offline – is more inspirational than ever. We are setting the bar for our industry – and our competitors are taking notice. We are also heavily invested in our sales team. We offer a true sense of partnership – many members of our team are designers themselves – they really want to help you make your mark. If you are not already a fan, please, come and give us a chance. You will be amazed – that’s a promise.

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Go-To Outfit: Skinny dark-grey jeans, tucked-in button down shirt, thin cashmere sweater, dark suede shoes

Style Mantra: Always wear high-quality shoes (even when they are sneakers)

Scent: Poivre Samarcande, Hermes (only available in Hermes stores)

Piece of Jewelry: My Omega watch from 1955 that my grandfather bought for a sack of sugar

Color I Never Tire Of: Navy blue (just can’t get enough!)

Flower: Tulips, the first sign of spring after a never-ending winter

Indispensable Design Element: Personal accessories

Era for Design: Anytime, anywhere

Dream Project: I landscaped a garden on the Cap d’Antibes, which I’m quite proud of

Fabric/Textile: Silk velvets, moiré, printed grasscloth wallcovering

Hostess Gift: I wish I had an answer! I go through a crisis every time I have to pick one up.

Meal: Pasta, pasta, pasta

Drink: Official answer: Iced tea with fresh lime juice on the side; unofficial answer: Tamarind margarita

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Way to Unwind after a Long Day at Work: Getting distracted with friends

3 Things I Love About My City: Endless NYC energy, the sheer number of restaurants, my partner’s apartment

Weekend Destination: The Hamptons, sometimes South of France

Hotel: Hotel du Cap Eden Roc (Antibes, France), Hotel Escondido (Puerto Escondido, Mexico)

City: Berlin (I lived there for 10 years), London, NYC

Museum: Naoshima, the Museum island in Japan built by Tadao Ando

Artist: Jan Albers

Actor/Actress: Anthony Hopkins, Judy Dench

Risk Worth Taking: Arriving late at the airport, such a fun sport

Greatest Extravagance: Silk-velvet upholstered walls

Go-To Color Palette: Greens

Set Design: The Crown

I can never have too many…comments to make.

Paloma Signature

{Photography Courtesy of Benni Frowein and Schumacher}

 

10 thoughts on “The Style Files: Benni Frowein

  1. Thank you, thank you, for the wonderful interview with one of my very favorite people! Can’t get enough of this lovely talented man. Benni has a way of bringing a smile to everyone’s face and always makes you feel so comfortable. One very enchanting man.

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