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Design Berlin

Recently back from a long weekend in Berlin. A good reminder of how good German design can be at its best. It’s almost as if they have carried on where the British arts & crafts movement from Morris to Gill left off. Attention to detail and a real care about the designed environment. Put it this way: you don’t see many of those horribly ubiquitous mean and narrow PVC front doors that have blighted towns and cities in the UK. And that’s not about snobbishness but a sense of popular and democratic investment in good design. There are of course a fair share of horrors to be seen and the city lacks some of the quirkiness of London and our best English cities, but you do get a sense that they take the designed environment more seriously in Germany with less of that embarrassment at the idea that it’s actually ok to cohabit with style. I think we’re catching up and sometimes at our best we excel with vivid and adventurous imagination – the mix our styles aesthetic of British pop has led to a rugged and wild terrain of pop sensibility – Northern Soul and it’s love affair with US black culture, mods borrowing from Italian chic, everybody gratefully acknowledging Caribbean immigration as it affects music and an easier culture of chill. But I wish sometimes we lived up to the rhetoric of being proud descendants of the Enlightenment and embraced Europe and it’s style with less stand-offishness, as if we might lose our identity in some bland Euro-mash, rather than standing shoulder to shoulder with the best.


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