Christian Fischbacher IV, fourth generation Fischbacher of the namesake textile company founded by his great-grandfather, spent many years in the US before returning to St. Gallen, Switzerland, where he not only added a clothing segment to the company’s design department but also had a house a built.
It’s in this house that his grandson, Michael Fischbacher, would host his wedding reception with then-fiance, Camilla. Little did they know that the same house would, two decades later, be home to the couple and their three children.
“I did not know when I first visited the house that someday I would be living here,” says Camilla of the home in St. Gallen. “The moment I fell in love with the place was when we had our wedding reception here. We moved in more than 20 years later as we returned to Switzerland after having lived in America and Japan.”
Michael and Camilla are sixth-generation managers of the family-run Christian Fischbacher as CEO and art director, respectively, together with Christian Fischbacher VI, Michael’s brother, who leads Eastern Europe as sales director.
Founded in 1819 by the first Christian Fischbacher, the luxury textiles company designs and produces everything from interior fabrics and rugs to hotel bed linens and duvets, and this year celebrates its 200-year anniversary.
These fabrics, of course, outfit the sunlit St. Gallen home Camilla had serendipitously moved in to with her husband and children. Although built generations ago, the house manages to meld heritage and antique pieces with contemporary ones – a modern-day space that charms with age-old character. How did Camilla go about preserving and updating the space simultaneously?
“Most of the house was already furnished, so we moved around some things, got rid of others, and then went about looking in the attic for treasures,” she explains. “There were some wonderful things that we discovered in the attic, like the Steinway piano our children are lucky to have learned the piano on, and other artefacts from the travels of my husband’s great-grandfather and grandfather.”
I surround myself with things I love from places that have touched me
“The architect who built the house was Hermann Guggenbühl – it was the only private house he built, I am told, and he later became the city architect of Basel,” says Camilla.
Great-grandfather Christian, too, had built some of the pieces in the house, such as the dinner table and the furniture decorating the terrace. “He pursued his passion for carpentry by making furniture for his – and now our – home,” says Camilla.
The generous outdoor space is among Camilla’s favourite parts of the house – “where the kids and their friends could run, play, and even get lost in,” she says – as are the large dining area and the fireplace. “It’s very intimate and cosy, and we have spent many wonderful evenings playing cards, talking and laughing with our family and closest friends.”
Half-American and half-Iranian, Camilla studied Middle Eastern culture and art at Oxford University, where she met Michael, a student in Sinology. As art director for Christian Fischbacher, Camilla drives the company’s creative development, and recently landed the brand a German Design Award for their Interfloral fabric.
When it comes to applying her eye for beauty to the home, what’s her approach like? “I surround myself with things I love from places that have touched me,” she describes. “Sometimes it’s a designer piece, sometimes it’s something very simple and beautiful. I think our look is rather Bohemian. We have travelled and lived in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, and Japan, and have collected many special things along the way.” Among their cherished collectibles is a bench picked up from the New Territories in Hong Kong. “We carried it from the beach back to our small apartment in Hung Hom when we lived there in 1995 to 1997,” she says. “That same stool has been with us from Hong Kong to Switzerland, to LA and Tokyo, and then back to Switzerland.”
“This particular house has a very strong aesthetic of its own,” concludes Camilla. “It’s important to respect that, and not try to force something that doesn’t go with the spirit of the house.”
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Photography courtesy of Christian Fischbacher