FELIX BURRICHTER — Where are you from, and how did you get to Berlin?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — I was born in Russia, and my family emigrated to Israel when I was 15. For years, I lived by myself in a kibbutz. Then my parents joined me. Then I lived in Tel Aviv, before coming to Berlin, where I’ve been living for the past seven years. That’s my story.
FELIX BURRICHTER — Where was the kibbutz? How long were you there?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — Three years. It was on the Dead Sea.
FELIX BURRICHTER — I think I’ve been there. They have a kind of hotel and a restaurant, right?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — Well, there’s only one kibbutz on the Dead Sea, and many little communities that are similar, but a kibbutz is a kind of Communist organization. Few of them survive today. What I mainly remember about the kibbutz was the vegetation because it was an actual oasis where people live, like in a botanical garden. The houses weren’t very interesting, but they built a cinema complex facing the desert and the Dead Sea, which stood out because it was everything a kibbutz was not — a huge design statement, with an amazing lobby, huge cacti, and an insane location.
FELIX BURRICHTER — With interiors like I’ve seen on your Instagram DecorHardcore?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — You can see everything on @DecorHardcore: Russian depression, Soviet dreams, Soviet disappointment. I collect a little bit from everywhere. Just wait a second. I’ll take you on a tour of my house. Here’s a mint-colored carpet, which is hard to see now because it’s dirty and dark, but it matches perfectly with certain things. Okay, now the lighting is better.
FELIX BURRICHTER — That’s beautiful.
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — Saigon bar mitzvah. And this is my vagina lamp.
FELIX BURRICHTER — I was just going to comment on the circular anal-bead sculpture that’s hanging from the ceiling. What is that?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — It’s basically a chandelier. But it makes really ugly light, which I don’t really like. So it hangs there for its beauty. I bought it on eBay for €2 or €3.
FELIX BURRICHTER — Beautiful.
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — Here’s a very beautiful mirror, and a fruitcake, and my clear Harman Kardon speakers. They’re so cool.
FELIX BURRICHTER — Are those concrete walls in the background?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — Yeah. I moved into this house five years ago. It’s in front of the tower on Alexanderplatz, by the Dunkin’ Donuts and the cinema. It’s a hectic block.
FELIX BURRICHTER — When did you start your Instagram DecorHardcore?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — In June 2015, a year and a half year ago. So it’s quite fresh, a baby still.
FELIX BURRICHTER — Did it all start from scouring eBay for your own purchases?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — I’d just quit a job, and I had a little space I shared in a friend’s pretty big space, next to Mauerplatz, where she sewed clothes and sold them. I began selling vintage clothes I bought really cheap on eBay, buying for €1, selling for €20. I did quite well.
FELIX BURRICHTER — Do you still do that?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — No. But it got me through a period when I needed money. While searching for clothes, I wanted to spice things up with small objects — ashtrays, funky glasses, and lamps. Then I started to see them as outrageously gorgeous. So I started to collect, collect, collect.
FELIX BURRICHTER — What’s your eBay handle?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — @SoHotRightNow11. You can open it if you want.
FELIX BURRICHTER — Mine is @bulthaupexpert because I once had to sell my mother’s kitchen on eBay. Do you communicate in German or English when you’re on eBay?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — I do it in German. It was one of my ways to learn German, which I needed to do. My second username is @Dressertreasure, which is what eBay is all about. When I shifted from clothes to interior pieces, I was buying a lot of things for myself on German eBay that you can buy for a euro if nobody bids. I find that appealing because people don’t fight over €1. Sometimes it’s shit. But quite often, I grab some really nice pieces.
FELIX BURRICHTER — What part of Germany do most of these pieces come from?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — Mostly from well outside Berlin — there’s a better chance to find something unappreciated. In Berlin, people know trends and what to look for. Further away, I’ll find a funky poster bed with a radio, or my favorite, Schlafzimmer Garnitur Komplett — a bedroom suite. We also say Garnitur [furniture set] in Russian. I often find sheets, a complete set of curtains, little carpets, tablecloths. So it’s quite a genre.
FELIX BURRICHTER — But is your bedroom a Schlafzimmer Komplett?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — No. But it is really beautiful. There is a magical mirror. You can step inside. It’s quite big. People don’t usually post things so big. I missed it the rst time, but after over a year, I saw it listed again and had to have it. The mirror itself was €50, plus €30 for shipping — and worth every penny.
FELIX BURRICHTER — I feel like every fourth post has something pink. Why does pink always work for you?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — Maybe because pink is a very un-Russian color. We didn’t have pink.
FELIX BURRICHTER — Even for little girls?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — Well, I was born in 1978, when there was nothing. Everything we had was very modest, very gray. Everyone had the same furniture, the same wallpaper, the same curtains, even the same slippers. You could walk into identical houses and feel at home. When I was six, I had throat surgery and had to sit with my feet tied to a nurse’s feet. We had the same slippers. I remember trying to joke about it. I always tried to make a situation humorous. That was my way of dealing with things.
FELIX BURRICHTER — I don’t see any pink in your house.
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — Except the pink amingo and the small duck, which is the @DecorHardcore mascot. But I recently had a revelation: I thought if I could ever own a big place, I’d have a room with everything in light pink: tattered pink walls, pink carpet, pink lamps, pink table — and only peachy, powdery pink. And that will be my therapy room.
FELIX BURRICHTER — Like Jayne Mans eld. What about a bed?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — A couch to sleep on, a little glass table, and roses — I love having roses at home.
FELIX BURRICHTER — Alexanderplatz roses?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — Yes. They sell 10 huge beautiful roses for €3.
FELIX BURRICHTER — How does your husband deal with all this?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — With the crazy stuff that I buy? He hates me at times, but in the end he loves it.
FELIX BURRICHTER — How has @DecorHardcore evolved over the past year and a half? I remember, in early eBay listings, a person in a bomber jacket.
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — Yes. I had two pictures, which I really liked. One had a commode with a beautiful mirror and a guy sitting on it wearing a shiny self-made out outfit. Then there was a very pale guy in the bomber jacket. I post fashion from time to time and find it interesting. But I try not to make @DecorHardcore about that.
FELIX BURRICHTER — Why do you think @DecorHardcore is such a success?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — Because it’s complex, but immediate — people connect to it on a personal level. They see it as a genre, but for different reasons. Most see it for sentimental reasons because they like certain styles, or they see something they used to have or their grandmother used to have. Some sense a different approach, which I apparently deliver, and they like. And some are observers and like the show as entertainment. That’s one of the biggest trends. Everything I post is about fun, a good life, and noodle salad.
FELIX BURRICHTER — Noodle salad, like a good party?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — Yeah. The good life: cocktails, champagne. One of my favorite movies, As Good as It Gets, has Jack Nicholson driving with a waitress and a gay neighbor, and they start to discuss his troubles. He’s in a very dark place. He says: “I don’t want to hear your sad stories. I want to have stories about lakes, champagne, and noodle salad.” So for me, it’s all about that. I never represent struggle. Sometimes situations are a bit awkward, but mostly I offer fun and fluffy pinkness. So you were right about pink.
FELIX BURRICHTER — Did you expect such success?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — I didn’t have a plan. I had an urge and a vision, which I thought was clear, but today I’m not sure. I like to analyze its complexity. I’ve gotten a lot from interviews and people’s opinions. I was hoping the aesthetic would catch because I had quite a bit of reaction from Tumblr, and saw certain styles and genres that I really did have an urge to expose, hoping they would be appreciated. It took me quite a bit of time to open this account because I was concerned about rights and the people who originally posted these things — especially in Germany.
FELIX BURRICHTER — Copyright and public domain issues on eBay?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — Well, the only restriction eBay has is that they shouldn’t be used to sell the same item. It’s a gray area because it’s not stated that you cannot use them at all or even to whom they belong. Some say from the moment you upload them, they belong to eBay. But that’s not mentioned anywhere. I guess the proper way to do this would be to contact the sellers and ask permission. But who has time for that? Also, my German is definitely not so good. And today, I have nearly 2,000 images collected, making it just about impossible to go through them all.
FELIX BURRICHTER — Have you posted from people more than once?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — All the time. I follow several. You have the option to follow people on eBay, their notifications of new listings. There’s one seller of Wohnzimmer Garnitur [living room sets] that I like, who makes beautiful setups, always decorated with a black panther. I posted three or four pictures from them. The panther brought the room together. People are always asking if the panther is for sale. You discover talents and take the credit without meaning to. That’s why it took so long to open the account. You need to make choices.
FELIX BURRICHTER — And now you’re sitting on a library of 2,000 more images.
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — Yes, just from eBay.
FELIX BURRICHTER — Is it a life’s obsession?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — Well, it’s long term, and I’m a very obsessive person, led by my own possessions, which I now connect with others. I’m always possessed by something, and something visual, and people’s behavior. I call it fishing. Sometimes I bring in a lot of little sh. Sometimes a big one. Sometimes nothing. Sometimes I have a revelation, which I type into Google. I always find something.
FELIX BURRICHTER — You said you learn from people’s reactions. Have they shaped your postings on @DecorHardcore?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — Definitely, like the carrot and the stick. This is how the relationship is maintained. You have certain demands, but you have to give something. Some images are more appreciated, loved, commented on, and shared. Those are the money. Others raise conversations, texts, and a lot of involvement. I call those eye candy. Then there are images I really, truly believe in, which I need in order to maintain the true spirit of @DecorHardcore. I try to find a balance between them all. I think I managed that, without selling out.
FELIX BURRICHTER — It’s interesting you say “selling out” because there’s no real monetary gain, is there?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — I could have posted only Swarovski figures with pink fur, which always works like magic. But I don’t do that. I try to show different styles and eras, different spaces and colors. I don’t have a certain color range. Everything varies. If I post a lot of interiors, then I’ll go to clothes and products — which are not the easiest thing to follow on Instagram. Most people like their bubble, their comfort zone, and this is not exactly a comfort zone. I don’t offer that. I offer a constant ow of content.
FELIX BURRICHTER — Did you ever think about monetizing — to make money with it?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — Actually, it’s now making money. I have a partner, and next week, we’re going to produce and sell calendars and some t-shirts. The online shop is already set up. It’s a whim, all in fun. I have pages of fantasies written out.
FELIX BURRICHTER — Have you considered a career in interior decorating?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — I studied classical animation, so I don’t have any experience. But if you offered me a job, I’d take it.
FELIX BURRICHTER — Do you still draw?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — A little bit. I work as a textile designer now.
FELIX BURRICHTER — Do you ever meet the seller?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — No. I shop online.
FELIX BURRICHTER — You suggested a shop to sell calendars.
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — The shop is open.
FELIX BURRICHTER — Do friends send you stuff?
KSENIA SHESTAKOVSKI — Everyone does — people I know and don’t know. My mother and my father send stuff from Israel. I also get quite a number of direct messages, which has become a phenomenon: people associate with @DecorHardcore. They have it in their minds. They send me pictures. Even if it’s not something I like, they think of me.
FELIX BURRICHTER — Well, you’ve touched people’s hearts. Now I can’t wait for the calendars and t-shirts.
[Table of contents]
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by Karley Sciortino
The Spring/Summer 2017 collectionsRead the article
by Aaron Rose
by Camille Vivier
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