Design Forum Berlin

Blick auf das Münze-Oktogon, Entwurf von Axel Binder

The German Craft Council is pursuing the project of estab­lishing a design forum in the centre of Berlin. The Design Forum aims to bring contem­po­rary trends in hand­i­craft, espe­cially crit­ical and concep­tual design, closer to a wider public. In addi­tion, these trends and devel­op­ments are to be combined with existing concrete approaches to produc­tion and consump­tion: i.e. with manu­fac­turing compa­nies, manu­fac­to­ries and studios.

The Design Forum in Berlin

One is surprised that there is no central place for contem­po­rary design in Germany. A central museum or a design area like in Vienna, Paris or London. This is all the more surprising since Germany has a long tradi­tion in design, from artisan move­ments such as Art Nouveau and the Werk­bund to the Bauhaus and the Ulm School, which success­fully inspired the world of design world­wide.

Site Plans of the Design Forum

In public percep­tion, ques­tions of design after the war were pushed to the side­lines in Germany, and only in this way can it be explained that neither in the German capital nor in the rest of Germany is there a really concen­trated point at which current trends in design are presented. In view of the social signif­i­cance of design, this cannot remain so in the long term.

An earlier design by Julie Biron using Alte Münze as an example: No increase in height, but a partial covering of the minting hall

The Design­forum brings together the areas of “artistic crafts­man­ship” and “design” in one place. For some time now, both disci­plines have been concerned with compre­hen­sive tasks and are shifting the focus away, from the spatial object itself, towards the ideas and life models behind the form. The social design move­ment takes on the legacy of Bauhaus and Werk­bund by dealing with holistic concepts that include all areas of life. Design thinking, design crit­i­cism, ecology and sustain­ability, glob­al­i­sa­tion, inter­cul­tur­ality and future strate­gies will increas­ingly occupy us in the coming years.

 

Ecosystem of creative design crafts­man­ship

The aim of the Design Forum is to strengthen designers by making new poten­tial, that design holds for social trans­for­ma­tion, visible. At the same time, the Design Forum aims to boost the image of creative crafts­man­ship and support indi­vidual players, small craft busi­nesses and manu­fac­to­ries in all aspects of their devel­op­ment. The polit­ical and economic conse­quences of glob­al­i­sa­tion threaten to destroy small and medium-sized manu­fac­to­ries. Worries about young talent, compe­ti­tion with indus­trial competing prod­ucts or the monop­o­li­sa­tion of trade lead to an economic reality in which it is diffi­cult for them to survive. For many it is impor­tant to main­tain the envi­ron­mental condi­tions that support them. Their future depends on their ability to find a good balance between tradi­tion and new paths.

This is also where digital compe­tence comes into play: the younger gener­a­tion in partic­ular sees tech­nol­o­gi­sa­tion in the skilled trades as an oppor­tu­nity to make processes more effi­cient — in order to start new creative processes. Crafts­man­ship and modern tech­nolo­gies comple­ment each other. The digi­tal­i­sa­tion of design, manu­fac­turing and distri­b­u­tion methods is bringing produc­tion and design closer together again.

At the centre of the forum are artistic crafts­man­ship and design as creative and at the same time econom­i­cally signif­i­cant disci­plines. It is planned to locate cultural and creative actors on areas for finan­cially strong anchor tenants and to offer low-cost services for econom­i­cally weaker tenants at the inter­sec­tion of the cultural and creative indus­tries. The actors involved include various players such as manu­fac­to­ries, work­shops, arti­sans, design studios, restorers, digital agen­cies, scien­tific insti­tutes, manu­fac­tory research, asso­ci­a­tions and retailers.

 

The six areas of the Design Forum

The planned forum consists of six areas, which extend over the current head building and the old build­ings of the Passarelle as well as the embossing hall in the centre. In addi­tion, an exten­sion building is planned on the embossing hall, which will extend the possible uses.

Direk­toren­haus

The organ­i­sa­tional centre of the Design Forum is the Direk­toren­haus, which is already located in the town. As the “Center Manage­ment”, it takes over the control­ling tasks; in the past, the “Direc­torate” of the Old Mint was also located here in the head building of the Old Mint.

Agora

The Forum will initially be open to visi­tors through generous exhi­bi­tion areas in the middle of the area in the former minting hall. This is a flex­ible area. Tempo­rary exhi­bi­tions, major events, concerts and similar public events can be held here to guide visi­tors into the area.

Work­shops

The manu­fac­tory work­shops planned in the Passarelle repre­sent actual produc­tion sites in which manu­fac­tory produc­tion can be expe­ri­enced. The possi­bil­i­ties here range from small studios to large-scale show work­shops of well-known manu­fac­to­ries such as the Gips­formerei of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. It is conceiv­able that anchor tenants with economic secu­rity could be provided by Germany’s large nation­wide manu­fac­to­ries. At the same time, inter­esting, rare trades could be placed in smaller plots, such as manu­fac­turers of wall tapes­tries, musical instru­ment makers, boat builders, gilders, conser­va­tors, etc.

Retail spaces

The sales areas — in this case owner-managed and indi­vidual smaller retail compa­nies — are grouped on the ground floor around the wide court­yard of the site, which, together with cafés and restau­rants, becomes a place to stay in the lively centre of Berlin. In addi­tion to this tourist aspect, the Slow Retail Store concepts also offer a very tangible factor: they offer a sales loca­tion for creative hand­i­crafts and manu­fac­tured goods that is becoming increas­ingly rare.

 

Visual Concept of a possible future of “Alte Münze”

Educa­tional estab­lish­ments

The estab­lish­ment of training insti­tu­tions is a further core element in demon­strating the wealth of attrac­tive and creative profes­sions that creative crafts­man­ship offers. The Design­forum can create a radi­ance for young people in which crafts­man­ship can again be expe­ri­enced as a profes­sion that is char­ac­ter­ized by passion. It is the need for quality and substance that leads to the traces of crafts­man­ship, and many young people are looking for exactly that, but do not asso­ciate creative crafts­man­ship with a forward-looking (also finan­cially attrac­tive) job profile. The Design­forum can exem­plify the attrac­tive­ness of design and the artistic and can specif­i­cally target young people as a career option.

Asso­ci­a­tions

Finally, the asso­ci­a­tions, foun­da­tions and themat­i­cally related organ­i­sa­tions (e.g. NGOs) form a last impor­tant area of settle­ment. These asso­ci­a­tions are respon­sible for networking and struc­turing groups of actors in specific thematic areas with a more targeted focus.

Exten­sion

The embossing hall is to be extended by an addi­tional building. The existing three-storey building will remain untouched on the outside and will be covered by a visu­ally equally weighted supple­men­tary body. This is a “doubled”, twin-like body that over­laps the existing one and is set off by a circum­fer­en­tially contoured struc­tural joint. Following the prin­ciple of “embossing”, indi­vidual compo­nents develop out of the body in relief, while other compo­nents move in behind the imag­i­nary contour as “punched out”. The result is a moving, multi-layered body along a clear orig­inal contour.

 

Atrium-Space

The increase can be expe­ri­enced from various city points outside the mint area as a “crown-like” vertical closure of the histor­ical area and thus symbol­izes the reori­en­ta­tion and vital­iza­tion of the content of the area. The planned struc­tural exten­sion also has prag­matic reasons: it serves to create addi­tional space. The actual usable space in the existing building is limited, so if cheap cultural rents at the loca­tion are to be secured in the long term, space is needed that can be rented at the usual local rent.

Die Vari­ante der Aufs­tockung ermöglicht zusät­zliche Fläche und neue Plat­tformen (Konzept: Axel Binder)

Revi­tal­i­sa­tion of the city centre

The “Old Mint” is part of the cultural memory of the city. Through its future use as a design forum, the former old town centre will regain its urban quality and tourist appeal. As a path to orien­ta­tion in Berlin’s cultural land­scape, a consis­tent path will then lead from the Museum Island — ancient and clas­sical — via the old palace/new Humboldt Forum to the present and via the Nikolai and monastery districts to the Design Forum to the place where ques­tions about the future of our society will be dealt with.

More Information
& Questions to:
Claudia Wagner
wagner@direktorenhaus.com