Typographic Sightseeing in Berlin

This week, over 1,000 graphic designers from the world over will gather in the German capital for the annual TYPO-Berlin conference. The venue for the event is the Berlin congress center Haus der Kulturen der Welt, or the house of world cultures. Linotype GmbH will have a booth in this building’s reception area. If you’ll be attending TYPO-Berlin 2011, stop by and say hello! We’ll have several employees ready to field questions, or make fonts suggestions. A number of brochures showcasing Linotype typefaces will be distributed at the booth, free-of-charge.

For TYPO-Berlin attendees not from the Berlin-area, here are ten typographic resources in city that I’d like to recommend.

1. Mota Italic Gallery [link]
Mota Italic was founded in October 2009 by two former Linotype employees, Rob and Sonja Keller. Coinciding with TYPO-Berlin, Mota Italic will open its new gallery/store space on the night of Wednesday, May 18 (the day before the conference itself begins). The gallery’s normal operating hours commence on Thursday, May 19. Afterwards, the Mota Italic Gallery will be open weekly from 10am to 6pm, Tuesday through Saturday.

Schliemann Straße 34
10437 Berlin

2. Bauhaus-Archiv Museum für Gestaltung (Bauhaus Archive Museum of Design) [link]
Berlin has its own museum dedicated to the history of the Bauhaus – the famous German design school that operated in Weimar, Dessau, and Berlin from 1919–1933. Currently, two exhibitions are running in this archive: a permanent showcase of pieces from artists and designers associated with the Bauhaus, and a retrospective of the work of the world-renowned type designer, Erik Spiekermann; this will run through June 6, 2011. The museum is open daily from 10am–5pm (closed on Tuesdays).

Klingelhöfer Straße 14
10785 Berlin

Normal price: €6 on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. €7 on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays.
Reduced price: €3 on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. €4 on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays. (For students, etc. See website for details…)

3. Buchstaben-Museum (Museum of Letters) [link]
Located in the Berliner-Carré shopping mall across the street from Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, this museum collects, displays, and preserves letters taken from buildings, and other bits of environmental signage. Some of the items it the collection are over two meters tall. The museum’s admission fee is €2.50. During normal weeks, the museum is open from 1pm to 3pm, Thursday through Saturday. This week, there is a special TYPO weekend guided tour on at 2pm on Sunday, May 22.

Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 13
10178 Berlin

4. Bookstores
Traditionally, the Bücherbogen bookstore has a shop of its own inside of Haus der Kulturen der Welt during the TYPO-Berlin conference. Other design bookstores worth visiting in Berlin include Motto, Pro qm, Do You Read Me?!, and Gestalten Space. Like almost all shops in Germany, these bookstores are likely to be closed on Sundays.

5. Cemeteries
Some of the best letters to be found in Berlin are carved in stone, and scattered throughout the city’s various cemeteries. I find that all of them are worth visiting, but for the sake of space, I will just recommend the two that I visit most often: the »Friedhöfe vor dem Halleschen Tor« is located within walking-distance of the Gneisnaustraße, Mehringdamm, and Hallesches Tor U-Bahn stations; and the large »Friedhöfe an der Bergmannstraße« complex of interlinking cemeteries runs from the Bergmann Straße to Südstern. This complex is also within walking-distance of serval U-Bahn stations.

6. Sowjietisches Ehrenmal (Soviet War Memorial) [link]
A bit off of the beaten path, this Communist-era memorial to the fallen soldiers of the Soviet Union during the Battle for Berlin is one of the most serene areas in the city. It also includes numerous inscriptions, both in Russian and in German. The memorial is located in Treptower Park, in the former East Berlin. It is accessible via the 265 bus line, and it has its own bus top.

7. Prater Garden [link]
The Prater Garden is my favorite beer garden in the city. Located in Prenzlauer Berg, near the Eberswalder Straße U-Bahn station, this large outdoor pub offers visitors the opportunity to sit underneath shady trees on long tables and benches, and enjoy a beer or two. Light food is also served. Moreover – and perhaps of even greater interest to typographers – the Prater Garden has a distinct corporate identity, enriched in large part by the FF Prater typeface, designed by Henning Wagenbreth and Steffen Sauerteig. The Prater Garden has seating for 600, and is open daily from 12 noon ’till late.

Kastanienallee 7–9
10435 Berlin

8. Mauer Park Flea Market
As I mentioned, German stores are typically closed on Sundays. Tourists looking to do a bit of shopping and/or bargain-hunting typically spend their Sundays at flea markets. Berlin has several notable flea markets, but the most interesting for TYPO-Berlin attendees may be the large gathering in Mauer Park. Very near the Prater Garden, Mauer Park is in Prenzlauer Berg, within walking distance of the Eberswalder Straße U-Bahn station.

9. The H. Berthold AG Sign
The typefoundry H. Berthold AG was founded in Berlin during the 19th century. The company closed its doors in 1994. A former foundry building still stands in the Kreuzberg neighborhood, and the company’s gilded sign is worth seeing, should you happen to find yourself in the area. The sign is located in the Mehringhof’s second interior courtyard, at Gneisnau Straße 2a. This is just around the corner from the Mehringdamm U-Bahn station. It is also down the street from Chandra Kumari, a small Sri Lankan restaurant with excellent Sri Lankan and South Indian cuisine. Chandra Kumari is located at Gneisenau Straße 4.

Gneisenau Straße 2a
10961 Berlin

10. Museum der Dinge (Museum of Things) [link]
Don’t be confused by this museum’s name. What might seem to be be Berlin’s quirkiest museum is in fact its most hard-core design offering: the Museum der Dinge is the official archive of the German Werkbund, a design society founded in 1907. Inside the gallery space, thousands of everyday industrial design items from the past century have been categorized and placed on display. Open from 12pm to 7pm, Friday through Monday. Closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

Oranien Straße 25
10999 Berlin

Normal price: €4
Reduced price: €2 (For students, etc. See website for details…)

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