For design lovers, who like the treasured and eccentric: Ellen Teschendorff wrote a wonderful style guide about Berlin some time ago, which will be available in English in February 2016. Together with the stage designer Petra Albert, who literally staged shops, restaurants, hotels and squares, she went on a discovery tour through the most attractive quarters of Berlin. At the coffeetable in her shop Ellen tells us about Berlin and the curious story of the guide itself.
The book series of style guides began with a first issue about New York written by Sibella Court, a big name in the designer scene and author of “Etcetera. Creating beautiful interiors with the things you love”. I discovered the book when I was preparing for my own New York trip and I began wondering if there was such a thing as a style guide about Berlin – and when I could not find it I called the publisher out of the blue and asked the publishing director with a bluntness that surprises myself even until today: “Do you plan a Berlin issue?” I got a huge credit of trust and was allowed a first proposal, they replied with a “yes” within 24 hours.
As a born Berliner I would say I know the city perfectly well. None-the-less it was a challenge writing the guide. I had a very strict German teacher in the past and she never liked my essays – only through my good recitation of poems could I pass the class. When the style guide was published, I could not hold back to send a copy to the teacher, who was already over 90 years old.
The book suggests 2-4 tours for every quarter, and each follows the course of the day: for instance beginning with a breakfast, continuing with a shopping tour and going on with a lunch break and so on. Moreover I used short interviews with different creative people based in the quarters, who had another different view on the city. The guide is very personal and mostly shuns the mainstream and the usual sights of Berlin. The reader should rather be inspired to understand the atmosphere of the city and feel like a Berliner far away from the wall, television tower and Brandenburger Gate through visiting one of the daily markets for example.
I live in Kreuzberg and during the work on the book I discovered quarters like Charlottenburg or Neukölln completely anew. For my research I moved through the town by bike or walking like a flaneur and everything in the book I experienced myself. Two of my three shops are covered in the book: Schwesterherz Kreuzberg and Küchenliebe in Friedrichshain.
Most of the book was written within two weeks in Cape Town, and one day before my birthday, on 10th of March, the style guide was released.
Whichever way you look at it, the style guide has an absolutely persuasive haptic with thick boards, strong, matt paper and a rubber band that allows sticking postcards, notes, business cards, bookmarks, maps and other stuff without losing a thing. I like the uninhibited natural way Ellen is writing about small shops, stores and her culinary tips. A coffee table book, sure, but at the same time the style guide is a practical companion in which even Berliners might find something new.