It was my (gulp) thirty-eighth birthday on Monday. To celebrate, I awoke at 4.30am and took a small, cranky, newly tantrumming and top-teeth-teething child home from Berlin. I was easily the most popular person on the flight, and am trying to use wine to forget it ever happened (both the flight and turning 38). So let’s flash back and discuss the weekend in Berlin instead.
Prior to leaving, we were once again treated to a stunning Swiss sunrise. I am well aware that snaps of the sky from our window are becoming gratuitous, but we can’t not. I mean, ridiculous.
We’ve travelled a fair bit with the bambino, but the Zurich to Berlin trip was the first flight she and I had done solo. Happily she’s currently into books and goldfish crackers, so between the two a relatively uneventful trip was had (although I can recite ‘What the Jackdaw Saw‘, ‘A Day at the Beach‘ and ‘Hop on Pop‘ cover to cover)(and have developed a taste for aquatic shaped snacks). Tim’s lovely sister met us at the airport, and we stocked up on snacks and wine for the evening ahead and subsequently consumed them.
Winter in Berlin is grim, and Saturday was no exception with grey skies, rain, and wind aplenty. We decided to take an indoor excursion and opted for the Bauhaus archive.
A hub of German modernism, the Bauhaus was an art school that combined craftmanship (such as woodworking, furniture making, weaving) and fine arts (painting, music, architecture, sculpture) to obtain universal design which was practical yet beautiful. Students and teachers focused on purity of materials and artistry to make common items – buildings, chairs, lights – transcend their previously humble origins. There was an emphasis on creating for everyman: practical, useful design that merged art with everyday life.
The first thing that struck us was how ubiquitous much of the design has become. Familiar pendant lamps, gorgeous 1930s armchairs, tea and coffee and cutlery settings that would not be out of place in the homewares section of a high end department store. However at the time of their creation, such items were novel, risqué, revolutionary. The second impression was an element of 1984 (the novel as opposed to the bad hair era) – generic design for all the people, almost soulless office-like desks and kitchens and buildings. There was a sense of anonymity, an impression that good design and art would compensate for individual taste and expression. This felt incongruous with our identity of self and home now (although Dommie correctly raised Ikea as a comparison and won the conversation).
Musings aside, we embraced two of our era’s design contributions: the selfie and the photobomb.
There was a brief break in the rain, so we wandered the streets (preparing in advance a justification for our nutritious lunch).
Nutritious and delicious currywurst (and hot wine, always).
We were staying in the apartment of a friend who’d spent Christmas with us (and was currently out of town – which worked out well for digs, but poorly for catching up). We made our way back to her gaff to give the baby some freedom from her aunt’s headwear. (We didn’t stay in the water tower below, but apparently it is now apartments. Funky German apartments.)That night the weather deteriorated, and although beautiful it didn’t accommodate my small, overtired (and unbeknownst to us, about to have new teeth) baby. Tim took snaps after which we all adjourned, shivering and damp, to the restaurant on the corner for birthday champagne and flammkuchen.
We legged it home to get the munchkin into bed, and to plan our hopefully rain-free day ahead (aka birthday eve).