Slowdown Moment

Weekend slowdown by Florian Kaps: “I avoid Supersense, because it’s like a beast. I need some distance to be able to think out of the box”

Florian Kaps is best known for his passionate interest in all things analogue, and can usually be found completely immersed in the creative community. In fact, he’s so keen on analogue that he bought an entire Polaroid factory to save its instant films, and created Supersense: an incomparable concept store and manufactory full of analogue treasures. But how does this analogue guy spend his weekends? In this interview, he offers us a glimpse into his personal leisure routines and rituals.

To better understand how a person spends their free time, it is helpful to have a sense of their attitude towards their work and work routines.

Florian says he actually never works, because he enjoys every minute of what he does. He describes his typical day as follows: “From Monday to Friday, I wake up at 6:15 am, and make coffee and bread for the kids to go to school. About 7:00 am, when the kids are gone, I make another coffee and a green tea for me and my wife to drink in bed. Then I usually check some emails and stuff in my thinking room, and I leave about 9:00 am for work. I spend the day at Supersense and usually come back home at about 7:00 pm.”

When we ask if he has any time to rest during the week, he reiterates his love for his work. “What is rest? I mean, this always turns into a long discussion with my wife. But basically, my theory is that your work should consist of things that you love to do. I don’t like when some of my colleagues just watch the clock, basically waiting to go home.” Florian says that he never feels unmotivated or burned out. “My job does not feel like a job for me. I love my work; it’s fun!”

Weekend relaxation mode at home

We start our weekend adventure in Florian’s apartment in Vienna’s 9th district his favourite hometown neighbourhood. “I have lived here my whole life and, as I travelled the world, I came to realise that Vienna itself is analogue, and perfect for living. Vienna, in a way, does not seem to want to change. Maybe it’s because the people here are stubborn; they don’t want to change. Things stay the same; it’s not like busy New York. Vienna is a big city, but safe – you can raise your kids here, swim in the drinking water, have your own winery.”

Florian usually spends his weekends in his apartment or nearby surroundings, but he also likes to visit the 1st district and really enjoys Prater. “Most importantly, on Friday and Saturday, me and my whole family go to the countryside where my parents live. That’s when I really chill – I just do nothing,” he says.

Analogue rituals

We meet Florian about 9:00 am, just in time to enjoy his first morning coffee with him. When we talk about his slowdown rituals, it’s no surprise that the discussion shifts to analogue versus digital issues. “I use both analogue and digital stuff, but you know – things like brushing your teeth, making your coffee and communicating with people are all very analogue. So, I think everybody’s still 99% analogue. Digital is overrated.

“The interesting thing about my business, I think, is that young people, who mostly work digitally like on their phones, have now discovered that there is a whole world beyond their electronic devices. They’ve realised that nobody’s all that happy – that even when they have 5,000 friends on Facebook, they actually don’t have a lot,” he explains.

When we look at the many old-school pieces surrounding Florian, we have to ask where they come from, and why he finds them so irresistible. “People send me a lot of stuff, so I can’t resist. I take all of my inspiration for the future by learning from the past, because most answers have already been discovered, like crazy prototypes and products. I just can’t resist a chance to own them, look at them, and try to understand them.

“A big disadvantage of digital is that people don’t leave any traces with it anymore, because everything is just in this Cloud. I think there’s a dark age coming, when nobody’s going to ever see any pictures. There will be nothing there, because we know that digital stuff disappears; even my work from 15 years ago – I can’t access it now. So, I love this analogue stuff; these things are real. This, for example, is my grandmother’s cabinet,” he says, gesturing towards it, “and I still have a picture of how it looked in her house. This is a tangible thing I can pass on, and this is what the digital world is missing. People take five pictures of flowers, but nobody prints them, nobody really even looks at them.”

Avoiding Supersense

Florian is the founder of the Supersense store, located on Praterstraße 70 in the Venetian Palazzo, right in the heart of Vienna. An amazing space full of analogue delicacies, it can perhaps best be described as a temple of time-honoured treasures.

Florian admits that he loves this space he has created, but he avoids it at the weekend. “I avoid it, because it’s like a beast. I need some distance at the weekend to really think out of the box. I try to separate the living between weekdays and weekends,” he explains.

Even though it’s the weekend and he has no plans to go to Supersense, he still likes to talk about it. Supersense began as a Polaroid factory that Florian took over in 2008 with the intention of bringing it back to life.

“We had the Polaroid factory and we wondered: why is this young generation suddenly so interested in analogue stuff? I think the best theory is because digital is always behind a glass screen – so you can look at it and you can maybe hear it, but you can never touch it, smell it or taste it,” he says. “So, it’s about all of our five senses, and the difference lies in the experience. Everybody says, OK, we don’t need retail anymore, it’s all about our senses. So we decided to call it Supersense; we even have a department for smelling, tasting, touching.”

Florian is a prototype; an analogue optimist living in a digital era. “Digital is limited, it is always a good idea to have a concept store with coffee because customers love it when you talk to them,” he says. “Even Amazon has made a store. You have to connect the experience with reality somehow. Stop complaining; it’s not about prices, but the experience. Even Facebook has an analogue research lab, and they called me to ask, ‘How can we do something in reality?’.”

Reading and relaxing in his thinking room

Florian lives in the apartment with his family, comfortably surrounded by retro furniture and a lot of analogue stuff. Photographs, books, magazines, stacks of papers, notebooks and some technical artefacts are all part of the landscape in Florian’s ‘thinking room’. “It’s my favourite room where I do everything. My wife hates it because it’s messy,” he says.

On the weekends, he uses the room mainly for reading – of course – analogue stuff. “I usually read magazines and newspapers in print. I have a weird habit of reading from back to front, because the most interesting parts for me are usually in the back, while politics are near the front. When I do go for a book, it’s usually more of a theory topic, but I don’t read many of these,” he explains.

While we are in the thinking room, of course we need to ask what he’s been spending time thinking about in here lately. Florian starts to talk about his new project: rebuilding an empty space just next to Supersense.

“Venetian Palazzo, the residence of Supersense, was always a huge place. This new space is in the same crazy house that was owned by a crazy guy who wanted to build Venice in Vienna during the past century. In the 1970s, Supersense, and the adjoining empty space that belonged to an old lady, were separated. So just a few months ago, we acquired the other spot, and we are thinking about reuniting it again. It was a restaurant before, and I really would like to revive it. We just created a menu yesterday,” he reveals.

Shopping local food at Edelschimmel 

We went along with Florian to his usual Saturday shopping place: a local shop called Edelschimmel (Servitengasse 5, 1090 Wien). He buys a yoghurt that he says is similar to the ones he ate when he was a kid, nicely packaged in glass. It is obvious that, even when shopping, he is always on the lookout for nostalgia.

“When I was younger, everything was in glass,” he reminisces. “And this one is really nice – it’s real food, local. Not industrial like today, with everything wrapped in plastic.

I normally buy stuff at a supermarket, but when it comes to special things like bread and butter, I buy at Edelschimmel. I only buy from people I trust; I know my butcher, and I also often buy food outside Vienna. I drive 20 km to get good eggs and tomatoes, for example. I travel for good food. Other than that, I try to avoid shopping – like for clothes.”

Cooking is his best way to relax

“For me, the most important slowdown moment after work or on the weekend is when I do the cooking in my kitchen. Nobody is allowed to enter the kitchen, and if they try, I throw them out,” he says. He spends at least one hour in his kitchen every day.

“I love to mix all kinds of tastes and cuisines. I like to break rules and combine stuff. But my favourite meals are the classics – like from my grandma’s recipes that she taught me when I was a boy. I think the easiest recipes are really the hardest; they only look easy. That’s one of the reasons why I learned to make Margherita pizza. I even bought my own oven for it from a Kickstarter project. My family hates it now; they can’t hear the word pizza anymore.”

Enjoying the world outside

Florian likes to soak up the atmosphere of his city. “I sometimes ride my bike to work, and my wife and I also go running two times a week to Prater. I do a lot of walking and thinking in the neighbourhood as well,” he explains.

The neighbourhood he lives in offers everything he needs. “It’s close to the centre, but at the same time you can see the mountains, and there are huge parks here where you can relax. The whole district is transforming over time – you notice it especially when you’ve lived here your whole life – but I still discover new places to go,” he says.

Spending some time in the city gives Florian the opportunity to stay connected with the world. As we enjoy coffee in one of his favourite cafés, he talks about some of the analogue hacks he uses to bring some calmness and balance to his busy life – like planning, for example: “I have a notebook where I write everything down. But it has to be analogue, or else it’s not working for me,” he says.

Florian also praises the magic of face-to-face communication, which he says is always much better than the virtual form: “Everybody just thinks they are much more efficient, but even when you write 5,000 emails, it’s still not as good as talking to someone directly.”

Photography by Lousy Auber