As the heavens opened, turning Copenhagen into a scene from Blade Runner, the directors cut, there was only one option. Escape. Fortunately, this coincided with a study trip to Berlin exploring the diverse and expressive retail spaces of this playful city and under more friendlier skies. I first discovered Mitte 5 years ago, when it was still the new kid on the block and I was curious if this laid back neighbourhood had retained it´s urban bohemian attitude. A casual walk down Rosa Luxembourg Strasse and passing a minimalistic store front, my stroll was halted by the delightful aroma of leather, actually deerskin. My nose led the way into a small showroom cum workshop where the owner, Daniel Heer sat cross-legged, needle and thread in hand. Heer has been manufacturing Swiss quality horsehair mattresses for four generations and Daniel has taken his heritage and craftsmanship to a new and exciting direction. His enthusiasm for creating leather goods and bespoke horsehair mattresses are now finding there way into homes and stores all over the world and Daniel´s craftsmanship left me overwhelmed. I left Daniel´s universe grudgingly and meandered off to nearby Alte Schonhauser, where rumors about a green revolution from down under was evolving.
Aesop, the Australian company producing innovative skin and body products for almost 30 years, had recently opened it´s first store in Germany in the heart of Mitte. The retail space was created in collaboration with the local design company, Weiss-heiten Design who have with an engaging concept combined stunning materials such as sea-green tiles and oiled oak. Aesop´s products are perfectly framed and presented on thin metal shelving giving a sense of lightness and the store´s highlight are undoubtedly the two cow troughs. Like with Daniel at Heer, the store manager invited myself and curious colleagues with an infectious welcome and I felt very much at home in this green pearl. You will find this little jewel on Alte Schönhauser Strasse 48.
And finally, for a vegetarian to admit that he had one of the best culinary experiences in an old butcher´s shop in downtown Mitte, will probably have me ostracized from the vegetarian fraternity. Fleisherei on Schônhauser Allee, had been strongly recommended, not only for it´s careful attention to local and regional dishes, but it´s remarkable atmosphere in authentic surroundings. Yes, the focus was on meat, but this outsider was brought into the flock and presented with vegetarian and fish dishes delicately prepared. There was a lively buzz, generated and fueled by restaurant´s wines from Austria and helped along by the attentive, but relaxed Bernhard and his crew. Mitte has indeed developed into a neighborhood of passionate craftsmen and entrepreneurs creating local identities with global appeal. Long may it reign.