Eike König on his journey from Chile to Germany during the pandemic

Founder of creative studio Hort, Eike König talks to CR about what happens when a country closes its borders and you don’t live there, and why reaching out to others is key during this time

Designer Eike König, founder and creative director of Berlin-based creative studio Hort, has become known for working on projects entrenched in the cultural world, with past clients including Bauhaus Dessau and Bergen Assembly, along with more commercial collaborators like Nike, Adobe and Universal Music. As well as teaching, in recent years, König has also forged a solo art career that sees him create large scale monochromatic works that combine grids with block words and phrases often with an emotional and political leaning, all laced with a deliberately playful nature.  

König was recently on holiday in Chile with his partner Anne and their son Wolf but their world changed when the coronavirus pandemic, which had also been unfolding back home in Germany, suddenly hit Chile. “We started our journey in the north in the Atacama Desert. There’s lots to see, from amazing mountain sceneries to blue and white salty lagoons, animals and breathtaking starry skies,” König tells CR. From there the family travelled to the Pacific to see the abandoned ghost town Humberstone, a town built during the booming mining industry, and after that, König and co went down to the very southern part of Chile called the Magallanes.

“We booked a beautiful isolated house close to Puerto Natales, located on a small hill with a beautiful view over the bay. The sky in Patagonia is amazing and the horizon seems endless,” says König. “But when we arrived everything got locked down. The national parks, the shops … it felt like another ghost town we were entering and we didn’t feel safe anymore. It’s hard not to panic when everyone around you does.”  

All artwork by Eike König

While trying to find a way home to his team in Berlin, the conferences and talks König had lined up in the UK, Spain and the USA were all postponed and it was contact with friends and family that helped during this time. Fortunately, despite Chile closing its borders, König and his family were able to get on a flight back home to Berlin via London three days ago. Though he’s come back to the “eye of the storm” in Europe, it’s a comfort to be somewhere familiar. “It was like reading a script from an upcoming Netflix series,” says König on reading the news from back home while in South America. “And when the situation changed in Chile, it felt like another Black Mirror episode, only in real time.”  


Milton Keynes