Visiting the German Consul General in New York

Hi dearest blog readers!

Often I hear from friends “How exciting that you live in New York City now!” In truth I don’t feel like that myself as my everyday life isn’t very spectacular. Today I want to tell you the exception! :-) I will tell you the story of how I visited the German Consul General in New York.


How it began

In January Daniel and I visited my family in Germany. My grandma had her 88th birthday and the big family came together which was a good way to see as many people as possible in one occasion. The tragedy was that this was during the time when I was so sick and it was very exhausting to travel by plane and meet so many people. Daniel could stay for one week (as he has just 20 vacation days per year) and I stayed for two weeks.

My flight back to New York was scheduled for the Saturday when the blizzard happened in New York and due to the snow chaos my flight was cancelled and postponed to Tuesday.

Hello Neighbor

My plane neighbor was a young and hipster kind of guy named Georg. He was from Berlin and we started a conversation. He was on his way to New York City with his colleague Filippo (also somewhere in that plane) to showcase some designer purses and other products made in Germany at the Design- and Lifestyle Fair New York NOW. Georg told me that he works for a design company named Olbrish and that they will showcase their products in the “German Pavilion” at NY NOW. I told him that I am living in NYC and that I am working as an artist. It was so nice to talk with somebody from the art- and design scene! He also mentioned that he was invited to a party from the German Consul General in New York and that he could figure out if it’s possible to add my name to the list as well, because I am an artist.

I thought “Well, lets see if this comes true.”. I didn’t have high expectations, but was open for the idea and thought it would be very nice to go to such a party.

I arrived at JFK airport in the evening New York time, but my inner clock was already 6 hours later. I was so tired and so glad that a friend was able to pick me up from the airport. The main streets were free, but there were still tons of snow laying on the side walks and in yards. So much snow! When I arrived home Daniel had shoveled a narrow walk way and I could hardly pass with my suitcase. Inside the apartment, I went directly to bed. I was so tired and exhausted. Maybe an hour later Daniel arrived back home from work, but I could just say a sleepy "hello" and fell back to sleep.

Message for you

The next evening I had a message from Georg, in which he told me that he managed to add my name to the list. He gave me the time and place for the event that would happen five days later. I wanted to go there so very badly but my health was pretty bad so I tried my best to get healthy. I drank lots of herbal tea and stayed in bed and rested, but I didn’t get really better. Then I went to the doctor and that was kind of a drama, because first I got the wrong diagnosis and just my second visit made sure that I would get the help I needed. And of course then it was already the day of the party. Of course I wasn’t yet 100% back on my feet, but that wasn't my priority in that moment. I thought that such a chance might never come again and that I wanna make it work and go to that party.

At the Consul Generals home

I chose a young, but chic outfit, took my business cards and a few samples and took the bus and two trains to midtown Manhattan to meet Georg and his friends from the New York NOW fair.

While looking for the right building I got a bit lost, because I couldn’t find a building with German flags on the outside. In my mind there needed to be that flag somehow, because the German Consulate should show the country flag, right? I was imagining a big and sterile room with bistro tables and a small buffet. But there were no German flags that showed me the way, because this party wasn’t in the consulate but actually in the apartment of the German Consul General herself. In her home! I found the correct skyscraper and at the same time I arrived, Georg and his friends arrived. In the lobby of the building was a woman that searched for our names on the guest list and then showed us to an elevator. There was an elevator operator and he brought us to the 42nd floor. I just knew those from movies - it never had happened to me until then. After we left the elevator a long aisle lead to a normal apartment door. In front of that was a hall-stand and a maid that was wearing a black dress with a white apron took our coats. Two steps into the apartment a waiter stood in the corridor and had a serving tray with beverages.

Only in that moment I realized that this is not an official consulate reception, but a small-scale party in a privat apartment! I was already nervous before, but in that moment it got even worse. Still, I had no other option than to step inside the apartment with the others and decide if I want to go with red or white wine, orange juice or water. Since I had ibuprofen in my system I went with water and skipped the wine.

Apartment and guests

The apartment corridor lead into a bigger room with around 15 people. I guess in total there were 25 selected people at this party - and me. :-) The windows were from floor to ceiling - nothing but steel and glas - and offered an incredible view of enlightened Manhattan by night.

You can even see my reflection in the window.

In the left corner was a grand piano and on all edges of that room were small side tables with different design pieces from the New York NOW German Pavilion artists. This big L-shaped room was connected to another smaller room to the left and to the right side. The whole apartment had a very distinctive flow, only the two catering kitchens (maybe one for food and one for beverages) were separate. The apartment was really big for a New York apartment, no shoe-box at all, more like a shoe store.

I guess most of the guests were in their forties and fifties. The men were wearing suits, the women chic outfits, but nobody wore evening wear. Several waiters walked around and offered platters with Hors D’oeuvres. Others filled the glasses. Of course they were all wearing black and white and looked exactly I like I knew it from movies. In my head I freaked out every three minutes, because I am not used to such a setting.

View

In the beginning I stayed with the group I had arrived with, because I felt so nervous. In between conversations I tried the perfect morsels (each one an art piece) and slowly overcame the shock of being in a privat apartment and not in an official building. After a little while I came back to my normal curious self and explored the other rooms and there it was: The Empire State Building. Perfectly visible in the night sky. Last time I’ve seen it that well, was from the Top of the Rock. And now I was standing in the Consul General's apartment and took cell phone pictures. All the other Germans did as well so I didn’t feel silly at all. ;-)

After being there for 20 minutes at the party we all came together in the big room and the Consul General - by the way her name is Brita Wagener - gave a short welcome speech.
The occasion of the party was New York NOW and the fair exhibitors from the German Pavilion. Besides the exhibitors there were also some guests from the German American Chambers of Commerce and someone from the management of NY NOW. I am sure that there were even more exciting folks, but I didn’t get to know them, because I wasn’t able to talk to all of them. Remember that I was sick and the more I spoke the itchier my throat got and the coughing was difficult to stop. That’s why I had to portion my strength very wisely and couldn’t speak to each and everyone.

In retrospect it’s such a pity that I couldn’t enjoy the whole evening more. If I would have been healthy, I would have talked to more of the people and not “only” to the ten I’ve spoken with. I would have had a glass of wine and more Hors D’oeuvres. I would have taken more pictures (of course as well from the food!) and would have been 100% in the moment. As it was, I was in my own skin and that skin felt sick and was more timid than usually. But I don’t want to beat up myself, because I gave my very best and it was still a good and exciting evening! :-)

A conversation with the hostess

I was standing close to one of the display tables with the design piece that Georg had brought. The Consul General, Brita Wagener, came to have a closer look at the purse and I asked her if I should get the young men that can tell her more about the product. She accepted and I got Georg and Filippo. After the guys had explained about the purse we had a more open conversation and I could ask some questions. I found out that she really lives in the apartment, but that she just uses those big rooms for bigger events like the one we were at. She also mentioned that during daylight there is a beautiful view of Central Park. Such a pity that it was night and all black.

This building is situated between Central Park and Empire State Building and has a 180° view. Just magnificent! Out of privacy I won’t tell the building name, but for a better understanding you can look at my blog post about the Top of Rock, because the view is very similar.

When it was time to say goodbye I gave the Consul General two from my most beautiful cards. If I would have known that this would be a party at her home, I would have brought a wrapped gift, but I just had samples with me. Well, who knows what is going to happen with my two fancy cards. I hope two people will be very happy about it and feel appreciated.

Thankful

I am very grateful for God’s incredible humor. He who turns my frustration of a cancelled flight into an exciting new adventure. Georg's flight would have been on Tuesday and not already on Saturday, so I would have never met him. And I am also so thankful for meeting such an open, joyful and kind person in Georg. Such people are rare treasures and I am happy to have met this angel with so much joy in life that he could share it with me.

At the end I’d like to tell you a bit about two designers I spoke with and about that special purse I mentioned earlier:

Stefanie Kölbel

She is from Vogtland in Germany and creates bobbin lace jewlery with paper-thin stainless steel wires and hand colored polyamide threads. Through the interaction of material and technique grow filigree treasures that can’t be defined by its material, but by the work and effort that flows in every piece. (http://spitzenstuecke.de/)

© Spitzenstücke by Stefanie Kölbel

© Spitzenstücke by Stefanie Kölbel

© Spitzenstücke by Stefanie Kölbel

Mary-Ann Williams

Her brand is called Illu Stration. She was born in Cape Town and now works and lives in Hamburg and Los Angeles. She designs wall coverings, rugs, pilows, purses, hats and many more things. She created a simple and smart 3D interlocking multilayer leather and felt textile system. She was the perfect artist for me - interesting, passionate and a bit quirky - in a positive sense. ;-) Her son was there as well. A young adult in the beginning of his twenties. It was so nice to talk with him because that was so easy going for me. I could be in my normal “youth-pastor”-element and didn’t feel so much out of the place anymore.

© Illu Stration by Mary-Ann Williams

© Illu Stration by Mary-Ann Williams


Olbrish

Georg and Filippo work for the designer Olbrish in Berlin. And this is the purse the Consul General wanted to see.

© Olbrish Produkt GmbH

These beautiful purses I could see and touch at the party. The flower pattern is made with woven horse hair. On Olbrish’s website you can read about the process. Very interesting I have to say. Here's the link: Click.

The purses are bent at the top and nestle to the hip of the carrier. It’s really a beautiful and innovative design and nothing that I’ve ever seen before.

© Olbrish Produkt GmbH

© Olbrish Produkt GmbH

If you would like to see some more of the fancy purses, you can follow this link: Click.

© Olbrish Produkt GmbH

I hope you enjoyed coming along to my latest New York City adventure. I found it very exciting, but now I am back to my normal quiet every day life. ;-)

Did something like this ever happened to you? Please share with me and the other readers in a comment.

Many warm greetings, Kati

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