Loyal blog readers may have noticed that the Covet Garden team has been doing a bit of travelling recently: Jessica and Lynda have visited the sunny climes of California and Mexico and I've been to Germany twice in the last four months (and I'm going again next week).
Berlin is one of my favourite cities — it has a rich history of course, but having to rebuild itself after WWII and post-communism reunification it has the energy of a much younger town. There are many ways that this manifests itself visually in many ways — you can pretty much tell where the Berlin Wall once stood by following the trail of amazing, contemporary architecture. Graphically the typography of signage says a lot. Looking through my snaps I realized that there was hardly a serif in sight.
Here are some examples from around Berlin. Above is an old school selfie machine (I kid, it's a pet peeve about people that call every portrait a selfie now). In former East German neighbourhoods like the Mitte, these old timey photobooths abound. Below, trash cans implore you to give them your garbage.
Fun fact: The influential typographer and designer Erik Spiekermann is responsible for much of the look of the signage you see in train and subway stations. I fell into a long Speikermann-based internet K-hole while researching this post, and discovered that you can buy limited edition
I don't know why Berliners love San Serif typefaces so much. Maybe there's something about their driectness that helps guide its citizens through a city that is still in many ways split into East and West. Maybe its a way of distancing the present from the Gothic lettering preferred by the Nazi past. I have no answers.
One thing that everyone can agree on is that letterform is important to the people of Berlin. There's even a Museum dedicated to it — The Buchstabenmuseum. There was an interesting article in The Guardian earlier this week about how typography in the transportation system serves as an unofficial timeline of Berlin.