48 hours in Berlin because of the iF Design Awards 2022
A couple of weeks ago we returned to Berlin because the iF Design Awards ceremony was held, one of the most celebrated and highly acclaimed awards in the world.
In fact, it is one of the oldest, truly independent design institutions. These awards are held in Germany since 1953.
This year, the gala was held in the mythical and legendary Friedrichstadt-Palast in Berlin, and it managed to bring together almost 1500 guests from 36 countries. It was incredible!
That’s why we took the opportunity to visit this incredible city. This time we stayed at Casa Camper, a hotel located in the Mitte district and the location is unbeatable. You can go anywhere by foot and there are trams, metro and buses at hand. Additionally, it is surrounded by the best specialty cafés in Berlin as well as an endless number of bars, shops, restaurants and galleries exhibiting the most cutting edge art.
Casa Camper: design and comfort in the heart of Berlin
The hotel has been designed by MVRDV, the architect studio based in the Netherlands, together with the Gras arquitectos office based in Mallorca and the Berlin architect Laura Rave. Together they have created a versatile space that has three different areas that transform throughout the day.
With regards to the rooms, Casa Camper Berlin has gone for spaces where the colour red is the main feature and where there are few but great quality, brand products. The Tolomeo lamps by Artemide or the Boomerang Chill armchair by Sancal are good examples.
Also, this boutique accommodation has 54 rooms – the concept and the interior design of the rooms and suites are the work of Fernando Amat and Jordi Tió- and a recently renovated lobby where we can also find the Café camaleón. Named after the first Camper shoe – rural footwear that was originally used by farmers in Mallorca-, it offers a variety of fresh and seasonal dishes prepared with Mediterranean ingredients from Italy, France, Turkey, Greece and Spain. It is a casual all day restaurant concept and is located on the ground floor of the hotel. It specialises in Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine.
As if this weren’t enough, it also has a space located on the top floor where you can have a snack, disconnect and enjoy the views- a service that is exclusive to the hotel consisting of a permanent buffet that replaces the usual minibar in the rooms. It offers drinks, hot and cold snacks, fruit, yoghurts, sandwiches or fresh salads that can be eaten at the tables or taken to your room at any time of day-, as well as a fitness centre and a sauna in which to relax after an exhausting day.
The atmosphere in the hotel is easy going and the service is excellent, and most people speak Spanish so you will feel at home.
“Casa Camper Berlin’s philosophy can be summarized as: ecology, design and a relaxed atmosphere for an unforgettable stay.”
Having said that, and as we mentioned, we made the most of these days to rediscover places we had already visited but, above all, to see artwork, a lot of design, new hotspots as well as enjoying spectacular summer weather.
“Berlin, the greatest cultural extravaganza one can imagine.” David Bowie
Here are some of our recommendations:
Specialty coffee shops
If, like us, you are crazy about specialty coffee, you are going to find this selection very useful. Each one has something special but in every single one we have had excellent coffee.
It has several locations. As well as offering specialty coffee, it is also an artisanal bakery. Their cheesecake is really delicious, and their shops stand out for their minimalism and this beautiful terrazzo.
The Barn at Café Kranzler
The Barn received an award as the best specialty coffee roasters in 2019. They have different shops but our favourite is the legendary Café Kranzler. Its coffee is truly excellent.
Its location is beautiful. It is in an interior courtyard with access to several hofs and is ideal for breakfast or brunch. This rustic style café serves Fjord Coffee and everything is delicious. If the weather is nice, there is no better spot than its terrace patio.
The Visit Coffee Roastery
Some very explicit neon signs welcome you and lead to a patio and then on to a very cool space where you can enjoy a delicious coffee and a sweet bite or two.
Here you can have breakfast at any time of day. Everything is home-made, the coffee is Fjord and the space is really cosy. We were fascinated by the floor and the service is excellent. They have a terrace for those who prefer to sit in the sun.
It is located in Kollwitzkiez, a residential neighbourhood. We loved it for its chessboard floor, for its charcoal activated vegan croissant, for its Matcha latte and for its coffee. Its aesthetic is Parisian, it has a terrace and you’ll feel really comfortable there.
Bonanza Coffee Roasters
Together with Five Elephant and The Barn, Bonanza is our favourite café in Berlin. Because, as well as being delicious, the space where they roast their coffee is marvellous. You have to see it!
It is located in Kreuzberg and here you can drink coffee and eat really delicious food. Toast, salads, sandwiches with vegan and gluten-free options. The grilled croissant with Comté and caramelized onion or the warm jalapeño pepper, crème fraiche and Cheddar sandwich are amazing. The second space behind the counter is our favourite.
Quite a discovery. Both because of the restaurant as well as the area, Kollwitzkiez. Very close to the Oderberger Hotel. Here, you can have tapas with natural wines, in a very lively atmosphere. The bread with smoked beaten butter is formidable and its vegetarian tapas are very surprising. Very good service.
3D sandwiches filled with scrambled eggs and other delights. They are marvellously served with toasted brioche and a secret sauce and different combinations.
The Klub Kitchen
Healthy dishes in a lovely spot. They have two shops.
The best noodles in Berlin and beyond. They are handmade- in fact, the cook prepares them in front of everyone- and they are really tasty. You have to go early as there are really long queues. The place is small but the food really is worth it. There are vegan versions and options with more or less spice. Mmmm…
This Japanese restaurant really is one of the best. It’s not for a restaurant for every day but it really is worth visiting, as it is a journey for the senses that brings you closer to Japanese culture by means of an immersive culinary experience. As opposed to other restaurants, Shiori does not have a menu with different dishes for you to choose from but rather has a select menu with ten dishes (obviously taking into account any type of allergy or food intolerance).
Is it possible to eat the best poke bowl ever in a space that looks like an art gallery? Yes, it is! We are not big fans of the poke bowls that we have tried so far. Basically, because since they became trendy, we think most of them don’t seem very good quality and they stray from the original concept. However, the ones at Jigi Poke are completely different. They have several combinations but they don’t go crazy and more importantly: they are made on the spot with excellent ingredients. Absolutely delicious!
This is one of our favourite places to eat in Mitte. It is on the David Chipperfield Architects campus. The place is very evocative, specially its patio full of plants, and the food is really good. They serve exquisite vegetarian cuisine elaborated with fresh organic products, as well as teas and coffees.
This mini-bistro is located at Mainzer Straße in Neukölln. It is a relaxed place, open all day for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks. The kitchen is typical of the Middle East: vegetables with Labneh cheese, fermented zucchini, hummus, roasted cauliflower and kohlrabi, accompanied by spongy pitta bread, to name but a few examples. All really delicious.
Museums and galleries
C/O Berlin is a private photography and visual media exhibition space. It is located in the Amerika Haus Berlin next to the Zoologischer Garten station, Charlottenburg, where there are more than 2,500 sq m of space. We saw the photo exhibitions of Susan Meselas and Bieke Depoorter. Really interesting.
This is a temporary live art space. We went with iF Design for the Berlin Design Week and we enjoyed several really interesting exhibitions.
Neue National Galerie
The Neue National Gallery is the last work of the renowned architect Mies van der Rohe, who died shortly before its opening, the first he had carried out in Berlin, his hometown. This work meant a new way of thinking and of understanding a museum, moving away from the closed building made up of many themed rooms creating a large, free, permeable and versatile, glass space.
The architect’s way of working and his postulates are clear and legible here, where the concept of “less is more” makes absolute sense. Together with the German pavilion in Barcelona, it is considered one of the most significant examples of abstraction within the International Style. It is one of the most representative and refined examples of the search for elegance by means of constructive and conceptual simplicity.
It is an art gallery that is part of a group of State Museums in Berlin. It is located at the Kulturforum west of Potsdamer Platz. It has a remarkable collection of European art dating from the 12th to the 18th century, with masterpieces by artists such as Alberto Durero, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Hans Holbein, Rogier van der Weyden, Jan van Eyck, Rafael Sanzio, Tiziano, Caravaggio, Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt, and Johannes Vermeer. We saw a David Hockney temporary exhibition: “Landscapes in Dialogue”.
The Bauhaus Archive museum, in the Tiergarten district, was designed by the founder and first director of the school, Walter Gropius. Although the original plans were already available in 1964, the construction was built between 1976 and 1979. The eye-catching silhouette with the sawtooth roof designed by Gropius is the most striking feature of the museum. Unfortunately, the Bauhaus Archive is currently closed for refurbishment until 2023, but we wanted to recommend it to you because although this time we didn’t visit the original building, it does have a temporary location in Berlin-Charlottenburg
Every time we visit Berlin, we pop into the König Galerie. It always surprises us with something interesting. We love its original building, as it is the inside of the Saint Agnes church, a Brutalist style, cement building.
Hamburger Bahnhof is home to the contemporary museum that belongs to the National Gallery and is one of the most popular contemporary art museums. The building is madness as it is an old railway station between the capital and the Hanseatic city. Here you can add the final touch to the visit to the museum with a first-class meal and you can find works by Andy Warhol, Joseph Beuys, Keith Haring, among many other innovative contemporary artists. At night, the façade is lit up by an installation by David Flavin.
KW Institute of Contemporary Art
The KW Institute of Contemporary Art is a contemporary art institution, the aim of which is to address issues that are pivotal to our time through the production, exhibition and diffusion of contemporary art. In its patio, we find the Café Bravo that is an ideal spot in which to forget everything and have a drink in the fresh air.
This chain of gluten-free bakeries is a space that we would pin and that additionally offers a surprising menu. We are not vegans, but we like vegan sweet food, so we tried it and loved it. The bread is excellent, you forget that they are gluten-free and the miso biscuits are delicious. Highly recommendable.
Our favourite shop in Berlin. It is not particularly cheap but to visit Voo store is to seek to be inspired. It is a concept store, where books, magazines, clothes, perfumes, accessories, shoes, sneakers, etc. are sold. And they also have a really cute café inside. You cannot visit Berlin without visiting this shop.
If, like us, you collect sunglasses, you will love this shop. Truth be told, they have several designer spots in the city but in all of them there is an excellent selection of glasses and sunglasses.
Who loves home-made pastries? If you raised your hand, you have to know that Albatross Bakery is considered by many as the best artisan bakery in the city. It is in Kreufberg and we can confirm that their cakes and pastries are delicious.
Do you read me?
If, like us, you love reading books and magazines on paper, this is your place. We left with an armful of exquisite magazines and books to nourish our minds.
This place is a hybrid of a concept store, a restaurant, a bar and a gallery. The shop is great and the bar-restaurant offers excellent food. The brunch is very recommendable. It also has a terrace. On occasion of the Berlin Design Week, there was a fantastic exhibition by Valencian designers.
The Corner Berlin East
It is a multibrand concept store located at the Gendarmenmarkt, that sells luxury fashion for men and women, as well as accessories. The shop is beautiful. It has other locations but this is our favourite.
The X Store (Soho House)
The Soho House in Berlin is our favourite for many reasons, one of them being its shop: The X Store. This space is fabulous. Not only do you go mad over the care of the home décor items, the books, fashion garments and different gadgets but you can also eat or have a drink on the sofas that are part of the shop.
(*) Photos: Cecilia Camacho.