We like to slip them into our pockets, to use them so often that their pages become dog-eared and to annotate them as we go. No matter the latest technologies, a city guide is something that is still worth the paper it’s printed on.
With the new release of The Berlin Design Guide, the team behind Berlin-based Alphabet Press are keeping the sentiment of the well-worn travel guide alive, but with a fresh approach.
It all began in Australia a few years ago when editorial director Viviane Stappmanns, along with then-business partner Ewan McEoin, launched the successful Melbourne and Sydney Design Guides, two pocket-sized books introducing each city from a design perspective. Shifting back to her native Germany in 2010, Stappmanns paired up with publisher Kristina Leipold and got started on a guide about a city she has had a continuing relationship with.
“The idea with the Berlin guide was to design a template for future guides, so we wouldn't start from scratch each time…it was a whole approach that we needed to design,” she explains.
Graphic designers Shona Stark and Lily Tidhar, from former Melbourne-based studio Wolfgang, Shlomo & Max (COOKBOOK north/south, COOKBOOK One, Two, Three), admit that the challenge was very exciting. “The design was definitely influenced by Berlin and Germany, but it had to be flexible, so as to represent a wide variety of cities,” Stark says.
In addition to the regular information you need while travelling, the small yellow book offers an insider’s vantage on Berlin’s art, design and culture, purporting to be a “practical manual to explore urban creativity” for both locals and newcomers.
“We basically created the book we always wanted when we travelled: namely a book that rolls a lifestyle publication, designer directory and introduction to urban studies all into one,” says Stappmanns. “Most importantly, we picked out some themes that are particularly relevant in that city and then tried to reflect those themes in individual chapters.”
While featuring area maps, diagrams and eye-catching images by Berlin-based photographer Max Zerrahn, the guide doesn’t claim to be exhaustive but aims to merely whet one’s appetite for a city where doing things differently is central to the culture.
The Alphabet Press team is already working on republishing Melbourne and Sydney editions, as well as creating guides for Zurich and Istanbul.
The Berlin Design Guide is available online and at good bookstores.