Christopher Bausch runs the Casino Art Cinema in Aschaffenburg, and the Harmonie and Cinema in Frankfurt. Like many cinema operators, he came to his profession via a passion for film. In this interview he tells us why interior design is an area of his work, too.
Mr. Bausch, how can someone run successful cinemas apart from the major multiplex theatres?
In our cinemas we make the most of the “experience” factor, along with the actual film. We want our visitors to have an evening which is simply an all-round success. That starts with good food, provided in a stylish and pleasant environment. What is on offer to eat is something which we tailor to the contents of the films, we go with contemporary ideas, and in addition emphasise sustainability and regionalism. To set ourselves apart from the big cinemas, in many of our auditoriums – in the Aschaffenburg Cinema lounge, for instance – we serve drinks directly at the seats – which, along with the intimate atmosphere, provides a cosy ambience.
To mark the coming fifteenth anniversary of the Casino you have thoroughly renovated the building. Along with books and wine bottles on wall shelves, now the textiles you have used also promote the feelgood factor in the redesigned large auditorium. What were the challenges, and how did you set about it?
When you are designing the interior of a cinema you don’t have much room for manoeuvre as far as the materials such as cushions, carpets or wall coverings are concerned. All materials need to be flame-resistant, since the regulations governing places of assembly are very strict. If a hundred people are in such a narrow space, all in the dark, other rules apply from those which govern catering.
So the first step for me was to choose fabrics and carpets which meet the B1 fire-prevention regulations and accord with my idea of interior design. These were installed by our partner, Deutsche Theater-Bau, for wall coverings and flooring. As for the seating, for instance, what I did was to buy seats meant for restaurants and then have them reupholstered, so that flame-resistant material is placed under the leather. The cinema seats were completely replaced and are now broader; we get them from ForumSeating of Nuremberg.
After a successful day at the fair a visit to the cinema can be a good idea, to turn off and relax. In what way are the Cinema on the Frankfurter Hauptwache and the Harmonie in the Sachsenhausen district different from the Casino?
Both are art-house cinemas with a tenderly selected programme of films – some of a challenging kind – none of them from the mainstream. As at the Casino, in the café and bar area visitors can get delicacies from all over the world, changing on a monthly basis, and thus round off their enjoyment of the film. On Sunday evenings from 6 p.m. and all day Mondays in both cinemas you can also see films in their original languages with German subtitles.
As regards interior design, the Cinema features a French bistro style, with marble, brass and textiles in dark blue and violet. The Harmonie is a classic art-house cinema, with a retro-vintage atmosphere. Of course all this comes with air conditioning, high-quality seating and the latest digital projection and sound technology.