Berlin

Berlin

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 March, 2008, 12:00am

When artists took over the abandoned apartments of East Berlin after the fall of the wall in 1990 they did more than just find a cheap place to live - they imbued what was once a grim area with a creative vision to rival that of New York.

Berlinrodeo (4 Rochstrasse, tel: 49 30 2804 7815) is an example of 'new' East Berlin. The furniture store offers a stack of goodies to take home, such as embossed silvery wallpaper (Euro75/HK$870 per square metre).

For style at work and at home, head to 2211 (5 Almstadtstrasse, tel: 49 30 9700 4664), where you'll find innovative business cards and glasses printed with grinning Buddhas.

When crossing the city's graffiti-splattered roads, watch out for the Ampelmann. Used on pedestrian crossings, this communist-era character was peculiar to East Berlin. Now a design icon, it has been fashioned into bookends (right; Euro14.90) and bottle openers (Euro8.90) among other things at Ampelmann Galerie Shop (40 Rosenthalerstrasse, tel: 49 30 4404 8801). Such is the love of the figure that it's been daubed by paint-happy Berliners onto the grey concrete blocks of that era too.

The towering metallic landscape of the rebuilt Potsdamer Platz, in central Berlin, is about as far as you can get from East Berlin's rawness. If you want the interior of your home to look as futuristic as this area, make your way to Betonmoebel (65 Zimmerstrasse, tel: 49 30 2248 7190). Using high-performance concrete, the studio has developed striking cubic furniture that is ecologically friendly. The white cubic table (Euro280) might not suit everyone's taste but it's still worth a look, if only for inspiration.

Although Berlin is currently going through something of a renaissance, it has always been a forward-thinking city, with strong links to the design school of Bauhaus. For items that celebrate the clean lines of this movement, head to the Bauhaus-Archive Museum of Design shop (14 Klingelhoferstrasse, tel: 49 30 2540 020), which has sleek linear kettles with circular handles in matte black, poppy red and eggshell blue for Euro56 each and glass white clocks for Euro229 per piece.

Another reminder of Berlin's design influence can be found at one of its flagship department stores, KaDeWe (21 Tauentzienstrasse, tel: 49 30 2121 0), which carries famous names such as Jensen and Royal Copenhagen and has a lighting display as dazzling as some of new Berlin's space-age buildings.