Berlin is full of expatriates. They are students, entrepreneurs, diplomats, workers, IT experts, other employees, party people, or artists of all kinds. Danielle Keller is one of them. Her main subject is sustainability.
Danielle Keller, an expatriate from Kfar Saba in Israel, came to Berlin three years ago. Sustainability is a subject she works on a lot, whatever she does. Her Master of Arts thesis focused on the luxury jewelry supply chain and the implementation of sustainability.
As a journalist, she writes for sustainability magazines. As a designer, Danielle Keller is working on sustainable jewelry and fashion projects. She also takes part in panel discussions on the topic of, you guessed right, sustainability in jewelry. By becoming a vegan, she also included the subject in her private life. Imanuel Marcus spoke to her.
The Berlin Spectator: You practice sustainability in several ways. And it looks like you came to the right place three years ago. From your perspective, is Berlin the world capital of sustainability?
Danielle Keller: I think Berlin specifically and Germany in general are good places for working on sustainable topics since there are many initiatives, associations and companies that focus on it. But many other cities and countries around the world started adopting this topic as well, since I arrived in Berlin. Needless to say, this is a good development.
The Berlin Spectator: You are both a jewelry and fashion designer, but also a journalist who deals with sustainability in those areas. In that function, you have written about famous German fashion brands and their sustainability approach. What have you found out about Hugo Boss and other German fashion labels?
Danielle Keller: Since I started researching and writing about the subject sustainability I found out that many companies around the world already developed frameworks, strategies, action plans and measurable targets around sustainability. Hugo Boss started walking on this path too. They are slowly moving forward toward a more balanced and conscious future for sustainable fashion.
The Berlin Spectator: Generally speaking, should big fashion companies be motivated or forced to be sustainable more?
Danielle Keller: For the fashion industry it would be much better to address sustainability before they are forced to do so. At some point, I think in the foreseeable future, fashion brands will have to take full responsibility for the impact of their production. If they were forced to address sustainability, it would affect the brands and the industry’s image in a negative way.
The Berlin Spectator: As a jewelry and fashion designer, nature seems to be what inspires you most. How do you turn nature into products? How does nature become jewelry? How do you convert the Dead Sea into tops for women?
Danielle Keller: I always found inspiration in nature. So I tried to imitate shapes, colors, and textures that I saw in different natural environments. It’s hard to say exactly how nature becomes jewelry or fashion. What I can say is that when I worked with metals, minerals and textiles of different kinds, I understood that these materials never react to my manipulation. My creative process includes adaptations to reality. The creations might never look exactly like the natural magic I saw, but they are my interpretations of it and a result of my vision.
The Berlin Spectator: Apart from your sustainable jewelry and fashion projects, your writing and participation in panel discussions, you practice sustainability in your private life too. Is it easy to be vegan in Berlin? What kind of special vegan food have you found here?
Danielle Keller: It is an ongoing process. Every few days, I add a new practice to my arsenal of actions. I have been vegan for some six months only, but my husband became one eight years ago. In my experience, Berlin is a great place to be vegan at. Berliners are aware of veganism and there is a lot of innovation. The range of vegan products is growing. I really love the fact that I can find something vegan everywhere I go. My favorite vegan place is ‘La Stella Nera’ in Neukölln. They have great pizza.
The Berlin Spectator: Are there differences regarding the approach to sustainability in your two home countries, Israel and Germany?
Danielle Keller: Oh yes. In Germany, people have been aware of sustainability for many years now. For instance, they have a good waste separation system and they have been extending their green energy sources. In Israel, there are some private companies that deal with sustainable challenges, including in the field of water. But, unfortunately, sustainability is not on the government’s agenda even though Israel is experiencing the effects of climate change. There is always some problem that is more urgent. The land we live on, the air we breathe and the water we drink seem to be secondary issues.