When the Wall came crashing down in 1989, it was more than just a destruction of a physical barrier- it also took on metaphysical and allegorical facets. It brought down with it a sense of guardedness and tore down that cloak of shamed-based inertia to face the most painful parts of her history. Instead Berlin is now armed with a new sheen of confidence, that has remoulded her to become a reenergised city of the arts and design, replete with world-class museums and buildings stamped by the best in the architecture world, that is befitting of the capital city of Europe’s largest economy. Its creative credentials, particularly in visual art, have been elevated time and time again with the swathes of contemporary artists attracted to the city because of the creative energy and easy-on-the-wallet cost of living. Now that Berlin is sitting up and talking about things without erasing or glossing over what came before, exposing the difficult layers of history instead of burying them, using the most dynamic and vibrant voice ever, the world is ready to sit up and listen.
Bespokcracy is teaming up with Arndt Art Agency, one of Berlin's foremost commercial art galleries and advisories to help you get even deeper into your art and cultural explorations of the thrilling city of Berlin. Together with Arndt, we unlock doors to different art institutions and spaces to provide you with the access no one else can. To whet your appetite, Arndt has provided some of the best of Berlin in our "wee black book: Berlin Edition" below. Your take on Berlin shall be the envy of all.
wee black book : BERLIN EDITION
This former Nazi-era bunker, is now the palatial home of Christian and Karen Boros’s contemporary art collection from the 1990s, including works from artists such as Olafur Eliasson and Alicja Kwade. Architects Jens Casper and Petra Petersson helms the refurbishment works to create traditional ‘white cube’ spaces and also instituted a structural and spatial interaction between art and architecture. You can still see the 5-storey building’s battle scars in the form of WWII bullet-holes as a sombre reminder of its previous reincarnation. It now houses installations from big names like Ai Weiwei and Wolfgang Tillmans.
WALLRAF-RICHARTZ-MUSEUM & FONDATION CORBOUD
The bequeath of Franz Ferdinand Wallraf of his entire art collection to the city of Cologne in 1824, laid the foundation for Cologne’s first art museum. Since 2001, it has been housed in a new building designed by Cologne’s homegrown star architect Oswald Mathias Ungers, and is growing from strength to strength with its collection spanning 700 years of art history, including one of the most significant collections of medieval paintings in the world. The addition of one of the widest collection of impressionist and neo-impressionist art in Germany from the Fondation Corboud seals the must-visit decision.
Breaking the confines of a traditional museum or gallery, the Skulpturenpark Köln or as you probably guessed it, the Cologne Sculpture Park, displays a diverse collection of contemporary international sculpture. KölnSkulptur is its own biennial series of exhibitions, initiated by the park’s founders, Dr. Michael and Eleonore Stoffel, aims to celebrate a liberating take on showing world-class sculptures in a beautifully-manicured green slice of Cologne. The biennal incidentally celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2019 with it largest (9th) edition.
The latest project from restaurateur Ludwig Cramer-Klett, is tucked in a back courtyard off Potsdamer Strasse, an unlikely address for one of the most exciting restaurant in Berlin, but now it shares the ‘hood with some of Berlin’s most distinguished galleries, like Blain/Southern. The dining room, designed by ingenues Karoline Butzert and Nora Witzigmann, displays modern art, including an unmissable chandelier made of vintage lights by the artist Björn Dahlem, and Kerim Seiler’s bone-shaped neon wall hanging.
Restaurateurs Stephan Landwehr and Boris Radczun opened this ambitious modern German brasserie with a Michelin star that is located in the Jewish Girls’ School building. Patrons enter through the clubby front bar decorated with emerald green walls and leather banquettes, and proceed to the stunning dining room, where exposed brick walls and Murano chandeliers are the backdrop for a monumental rocket sculpture by artist Cosima von Bonin.
The undisputed king of Cologne’s breweries is where you head to for your pilgrimage of quality German micro-brews and mouth-watering renditions of German culinary specialties. You will certainly stay for an extra Liter with the magnificent setting of painted glass ceilings and mahogany furniture.
S N O O Z E
HOTEL AM STEINPLATZ
Despite being officially an Autograph Collection property (although that’s Marriott’s luxe boutique-inflected line so we argue it still qualifies as a boutique hotel), we are still pinning this 87-room art nouveau masterpiece onto our list of Berlin’s Best. Its status as a luxury hotel draws deep back to 1913 with its sweeping arches and glimpses of Moorish architecture, which immediately drew a whole bunch of who’s who in the celebrity world including Brigitte Bardot and Vladimir Nabokov. Fast forward to 2013, architect Claudia Dressler breathed new art deco-esque flavor into it and updated it with modern comforts. The Etro bathroom amenities sure don’t hurt too.
If there is such a thing, the interiors of Mandala Hotel is a lesson in the humility of luxury. The model of luxury here is to allude to a serene and subtle essence, but sparing no expense with furnishings by Donghia and Chinese antiques handpicked by proprietor Lutz Hesse. Its highly-regarded two Michelin-starred restaurant FACIL, extends your serene experience while you treat yourself to some of the best Berlin-French cuisine in town. The tree-hugger in you would also like to know that you can satisfy your eco-conscience perfectly here knowing that Mandala sends zero waste to landfills and has a sophisticated sustainability programme.
The space has been designed by the hotel’s inhouse design team along with renowned designer Werner Aisslinger, who has worked hard to ensure the hotel is awash with effervescent creativity. Choose from a range of funky, idiosyncratic rooms and perhaps mix with the lively clientele that enlivens the place. It is also a quick jaunt to Friedrichshain’s (in)famous nightlife: what happens in Berlin stays in Berlin, goes the famous German saying. We think.