The 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?
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.
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.
LG: 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?
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.