Feature #27: Berlin Design Guide

Credit_Chrischa_OswaldThe Berlin Design Guide is the latest in a series of books initiated by Viviane Stappmanns and Kristina Leipold (aka Alphabet Press). It’s a city guide and design directory rolled into one – the perfect companion for design-savvy travelers and Berlin natives alike. We are thrilled that Viviane and Kristina have shared a group of Berlin-related lists on Listgeeks from the guide – the results of their extensive research and visits to places all over the city over a course of a year. Lists as carefully curated as these are pure gold! Also, thanks to Viviane for being kind enough to answer a few questions for us:

Listgeeks: In which way would you say the Berlin Design Guide is different from other travel or city guides?

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Viviane Stappmanns: The Berlin Design Guide is the latest in a series of experiments that started in 2006 in Melbourne, Australia. Back then, we – a couple of design journalists – figured that people interested in architecture, urban design, fashion design or any other kind of design usually have a very specific approach to getting to know cities. They are interested in the development in a city as a creative place, and they look for experiences through which they can get to know the very local character of a city – whether it be art galleries, restaurants or a look behind-the-scenes of local designers. Our first design guide, published in Melbourne late in 2006, provided such a resource for both locals and visitors – and it was unexpectedly successful. Over the years, we’ve expanded and continued our experiment until we developed it into a blueprint that could technically work in any city of the world. The Berlin Design Guide was the first book to be published under this new umbrella.

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LG:
How did you go about researching content and finding specific locations?

VS: There were two distinct parts to this process. First, we developed – as described above – the blueprint for the entire series. In a roundabout way, we did this by coming up with a set of questions relating to various areas of the design scene. Questions such as: In which ways are historic buildings re-purposed to serve the purposes of the creative community? What are the current developments in architecture, and which buildings illustrate these developments? Also, we interviewed many local designers, academics, journalists, curators and so forth. All of the individual places and designers featured in the book – when viewed together – form a picture of the city as a creative place, and they each contribute a piece to the puzzle.

BerlinDesignGuide-7084wLG: Berlin has a reputation for being extremely attractive to creatives and artists from all over the world – mainly due to its low cost of living. What other things have you identified as being driving forces in making Berlin so attractive to the design and art community?

VS: Aside from the low cost of living, which is indeed an often-cited characteristic of this city, most artists and designers refer to the abundance of space – both literal and metaphorically – as one of the things that makes the city so attractive. All those re-purposed, derelict and abandoned buildings are the perfect incubators to grow a creative dream.

LG:
You have already published Design Guides for Melbourne and Sydney. What’s next?

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VS: We do commit to updating the guides every couple of years or so. Next, we are looking at publishing Melbourne and Sydney again – both in the new format of the series. We are also looking at creative cities in Europe such as Antwerp, Zürich and Istanbul, all of which are interesting for different reasons.

Links:

The Design Guide

The Design Guide on Listgeeks

 

 


Feature #26: Catrina Dulay

catrina_portraitCatrina Dulay is a compelling, San Diego-based designer and illustrator. Having recently graduated from design school (she attended Otis College of Art and Design, among other schools), she has written both for Design Milk and Holiday Matinee while tackling a wide range of projects for clients. Just a few weeks ago Catrina launched a beautiful new personal project, Catrina and Mouse – a shop for cat-themed art and design. Apart from her obvious design/illustration skills (samples below) Catrina is a prolific and thoughtful list maker, and we’re very happy she’s a part of the Listgeeks community. Be sure to check some of her lists out after you read the below interview.

Listgeeks: What first got you interested in pursuing design as a profession?

Catrina Dulay: My interest in art was a precursor to my interest in design. In elementary school, art was the only thing I felt good about doing because I wasn’t very good at anything else and being an only child gave me a lot of solitary time. I knew right away that I wanted to go to art school, but I had no idea what design was yet. I just liked pictures, colors, and putting things together.

I discovered web design in middle school and played around with Geocities sites until early high school, which was when I became interested in graphic design instead. Around this time, I also developed an interest in photography, but design was always my number one interest. After high school, I attended Otis College of Art Design in Los Angeles and finished my studies at a smaller design school in San Diego a year and a half ago.
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While I was studying, I discovered how much I enjoyed the creative process and how much it affects the work that I do. It affects any creative endeavor. I was watching the Anthony Hopkins episode of Inside the Actors Studio and he explained that he modeled Hannibal Lecter after reptiles. I thought, “That was a good idea.” Because it worked! It made that character terrifying! These ideas, these ways of approaching things… all of it has a big impact on the results. It’s also a major part of what makes the job fulfilling, because I’m not just creating stuff. I’m figuring stuff out. I’m solving problems. I’m finding answers to questions that I never thought of asking myself and reasons for things I never thought about. I really love that. That’s my favorite part of being a designer, and that’s how I knew I was pursuing the right profession.

LG: How long have you been a contributor to Holiday Matinee? How did that come about?

heartCD: I have been a part of Holiday Matinee for three years and two months now. When I started out, I was an intern and it was still based in San Diego. I discovered Holiday Matinee through another internship I was doing for Design Milk. At the time, I was taking online classes so I had enough free time for a second internship, so when Holiday Matinee had one available, I met with Dave (the founder) and took it. I was really excited to surround myself by like minded people, especially since I wasn’t in a physical classroom environment for a little while. I’m really grateful to be a part of this team of awesome people who are all about sharing creative inspiration and letting other people know that it’s more than okay to pursue what you love (in fact, this encouragement is a demand). Also, I should note that if it wasn’t for Dave forwarding me the Listgeeks launch announcement two years ago, I would not have discovered Listgeeks in the first place!

LG: You recently launched Catrina and Mouse, a shop for cat-themed art and design. Tell us how the idea to do that evolved.

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CD: The idea evolved about a year ago when I was unhappy with my creative work. It was about six months after I finished school and my inner confidence as a designer was low because I couldn’t find my niche. When you’re young and hungry, it’s disappointing because you want to satisfy your hunger, but you don’t know exactly what to satisfy it with. I knew what I wanted, but I did not know what I wanted (imagine the word “wanted” in a magnificent and gaudy lighted signage style). That made it easy to compare myself to other people who found their niche. I would look at some of my talented peers and think, “I could’ve done that! I could’ve created that!” But I could not have done this or created that. It wouldn’t have suited me and I probably wouldn’t have been able to do those things as well as they did. Making those comparisons was was a bad way to deal with self-doubt. I had to figure out what I could do to rejuvenate myself and my work. Whatever it was, it didn’t have to be groundbreaking, but it had to be done well and it had to make people happy. That was how Catrina and Mouse was born.

catsI thought it would be a neat idea to combine two things I love: cats and design. It’s not a unique concept (there is a lot of cat-oriented design out there already), but I thought that I could do something special with it. At first, it was a hypothetical idea, but I thought about it a lot. I thought about it in the shower, at night before I went to sleep, and in the morning when I woke up. That had to mean something. Eventually, I allowed myself to get lost in the fantasy of it and it became a more fully realized picture of everything I wanted to do as a designer. I thought, “Gosh, how fabulous it would be to make this happen!” And then I decided to go for it.

I wrote a plan long enough to fill a notebook and I worked on it a couple of hours each day for eleven months. When I approached the eleventh month, there wasn’t much I wanted to say about what I was doing. When you invest a lot of your time and energy doing something like that, you don’t want to explain it. You just want people to see it. So when I finally launched the shop, I was happy because I made something and I grew in the process. I think when you’re a young designer just out of school, you never stop being a student. At least, that’s how I feel. I think that a lot of master designers can still be students in a sense that they’ll always be learning something new about what they do and who they are as designers. I still have so much to learn because I’m new and I haven’t been broken by the wheel of design and business ownership yet, but I’m sure it’ll be a good hurt. So far, I’m glad I learned this: if you don’t make something, it doesn’t exist and if you want it to exist, it can, but that’s up to you.

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LG: What are some of your favorite sources of cat-related Internet madness?

CD: Surprisingly, I don’t visit a lot of cat-related sites. My favorites are Hauspanther, Cat versus Human, and Cash Cats. Most of my cat dosage comes from Tumblr (I follow a lot of cat Tumblrs). There are a lot of nice cats there. Most of the time, I come across a cat I like and I think about how fabulous it would be to know that cat. The rest of my internet cat dosage comes from Flickr, YouTube, BuzzFeed, Pinterest, a LiveJournal community I frequent, and stuff that my friends send me because they know me so well. I’m quite certain I cancelled out the first sentence in this paragraph three sentences ago.

LG: You’re an avid list maker – in fact one of the most prolific on Listgeeks. What is it about lists that you think make them compelling? What are some of your all-time favorites on the site?

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CD: I’ve always loved making lists for practical reasons and amusement. I think they’re compelling for many different reasons, and the more specific they get, the better they are. One really good example is the list, “Possible Names for a Pet Owl.” It’s not just any bird! It’s an owl! It’s a bird with a certain personality! Someone listed Wrathgarden and Serpent’s Madness, which are perfect names for an owl. I love the thought that went into that list, and I see a lot of that in many other lists on the site.

There are also lists that are really thought-provoking, like “Songs I Don’t Want to Hear While I’m Drinking a Smoothie” and “Famous Actors in Two Words.” Those are mental exercises. The “favorites” lists are great, too, because I enjoy discovering movies, books, and music. I also appreciate the informative lists (especially the design-related ones) and the lists that express frustrations because I love learning about people’s annoyances (not just the things they like). The lists I love most are the ones that help me discover new things about myself, like the “Things I Observe Upon Meeting Someone” list.

My all-time favorite lists are:

1. A Typeface is Like a Chair
2. Potential Kimye Baby Names
3. Animals I Want To Put Party Hats On
4. Ben & Zooey Breakup: Best Comments
5. Things Required in Black
6. Favorite Company Tag Lines

Catrina-related links:

Catrina’s Portfolio Website
Catrina and Mouse Shop
Catrina on Twitter
Catrina on Listgeeks