Explorer's Guide to Berlin
FROM FLEAMARKETS TO HIP HANG OUTS, ARCHITECTURE TO MODERN DESIGN, SPEND A FEW DAYS EXPLORING THIS EDGY YET GLAMOROUS CITY OF CONTRASTS AND IMMERSE YOURSELF IN BERLIN’S ECLECTIC VIBE.
AS A SOURCING AND STYLING consultant to the interiors world, I’m always looking for new places to discover style and design inspiration. With its rich and complex historical past, contrasting mix of architecture and unique creative charm, Berlin certainly fits the bill. The German capital has attracted a vibrant mix of talents across the globe over the decades. From Einstein to Bowie, such influential types have played a huge part in shaping Berlin’s unpretentious charm, and to this day the city continues to push new creative boundaries attracting designers and artists on an international scale.
Vintage shopping in Karl Marx Allee
Stroll down the vast and imposing street of Karl Marx Allee, where you will find a number of up-market art galleries and vintage furniture stores lining this historical boulevard.
Coroto is a furniture and décor shop with patterned and colourful home accessories that reflect its ethos ‘the tropical way of living’. In this vibrant store you’ll find pieces by European designers such as Arne Jacobson and Finn Juhl, South American craftwork and Scandinavian ceramics. Coroto also sell a unique collection of lacquered chairs and tables finished in the most vivid of colours.
Original In Berlin (left) is one of the largest Mid-century furniture shops in the city, offer- ing one-off goods sourced from all over the world. The retailer has an in-house workshop where customers can observe craftsmen re- store and upholster their iconic pieces. From Paul McCobb, Charles and Ray Eames to George Nelson and Gio Ponti – you can be sure to find something quite exclusive here.
Lomomomo is a beautiful showroom worth visiting, also on on Karl Marx Allee. Viewed by appointment only, this shop sells a unique collection of Hollywood Regency furniture; brass tropical birds, metallic Mauro Manetti barware and gold palm tree lights adorn this interiors space, which is complimented by rich and vibrant velvet sofas.
To get a sense of Germany’s 1930s golden past and the imposing industrial architecture synonymous with Berlin today, pop in to the exclusive Soho House Hotel. Located in the Mitte District of the city, it’s hard not to be impressed by the industrial concrete structure of this historical Bauhaus building. With its beautiful black and white tiled floors and walls adorned with giant contemporary art by the likes of Damien Hirst, combined with a carefully curated mix of antiques and modern furniture – this hotel showcases eclectic style on a truly luxurious scale.
The Bauhaus Archive
From Soho House to Bauhaus, The Bauhaus Archive is strongly recommended for any design fan visiting the city. Nowhere else in the world will you get to discover just how important this movement was, and still is, in the design world. The museum takes you through the Bauhaus school’s influences on 20th century design (founded by Walter Gropius in 1919). The iconic building itself is as impressive as the collection of furniture, art and everyday objects that the museum has on display.
Shop the Antiques Mile
If you love a good antiques hunt then take a trip down the Antique Mile on Suarezstrasse, located in the heart of Charlottenburg. This district of Berlin is brimming with shops selling a diverse range of antiques from colour-coordinated glassware, collectables and art to taxidermy and furniture. Pop in to the Antik-Center of Suarezstrasse and spend some time rummaging through this large treasure trove of a shop. If you love art, you’ll enjoy browsing through folder upon folder of original post 40s abstract art. The shop also offers a varied range of vintage haberdashery items and accessories. Design 54 holds one of the largest spaces on this street, specialising in Mid-century furniture – it’s a great place to hunt for kitsch finds.
Located a few blocks away from this street on Bleibtreustrasse, lies an upmarket showroom called Firma London which sells distinct mid- 20th century furniture and lighting. The shop quite rightly has become a leading source for interior decorators and designers on an international scale, stocking names such as Willy Rizzo, Marco Zanuso and Cini Boeri.
Stop for a spot of lunch at the legendary Paris Bar, a French brasserie which has been attracting the cool and cultured of Berlin since opening in the 1960s. The restaurant is adorned head to toe (and ceiling) with the most impressive collection of contemporary art collected and curated by German artist Martin Kippenberger.
If you’re a fan of rococo and baroque style architecture then be sure to explore the splendour of Charlottenburg Palace. The Palace’s vast and ornately decorated rooms are truly inspiring for their sheer opulence and grandeur. Originally built in the 17th century by Frederick the Great, the building has been painstakingly restored to its former glory since being destroyed in the war. The palace holds an exquisite collection of porcelain, paintings and fine furniture, plus a mightily impressive assortment of Prussian treasures on display.
Berlin is brimming with open-air fleamarkets, both large and small, mostly taking place at the weekends. Check out Berlin’s Troedelmarkt set in the picturesque and historic Tiergarten. Hundreds of antique dealers come here to sell collectors pieces and it’s well worth a visit.
The Strasse des 17. Juni Fleamarket is also an antiques haven worth exploring. Based in the Charlottenburg District, this is the oldest antique and flea in Berlin selling all kinds of collectables as well as new goods.
Sunday’s Mauerpark fleamarket is popular with tourists and locals who flock there to browse through the stalls of specialist dealers and Berliners selling household items. Set in what was formally known as the Death Strip (an area of land previously occupied by the Berlin Wall), this market has a great buzz and atmosphere. Be prepared how- ever to rummage amongst the junk to nd what you are looking for!
Where to Stay
Only in a Berlin hotel would you find a vintage mini parked in an exposed concrete foyer adorned in vinery and graffiti – welcome to 25Hours Hotel Bikini. Located in the West of the city, this hotel is perfectly situated for exploring Berlin. Formerly a 50s high rise build- ing, it has now been transformed in to an urban jungle with quirky cool interiors and a contrasting mix of exposed concrete and lush botanicals – this hotel reflects everything Berlin fans love about the city all under one roof. Exquisite views of the great city space and the zoo can be seen from the Hotel’s popular roof top Monkey Bar. Rooms come complete with a hammock and vintage objects to compliment the modern furnishing. My room was conveniently supplied with a 50s typewriter-perfect for typing up notes on this wonderful city!
To admire Berlin’s vast urban and green spaces, the city is best seen by bike, which you can hire at most hotels. The subway system is not only an easy way of getting around the city but it also holds a diverse display of art and design. Dating back to the 1900s the underground network holds over 173 individually designed stations and some are well worth exploring to admire their typography, design and architecture.