After a packed day of inspiring and insightful talks at DLD Berlin, we headed out for a ride through the city with our very own design bus, co-curated by Berlin Partner. The tour was conceived by design and architecture journalist Oliver Herwig. As special guests for this DLD Berlin edition, Henning Heppner, founder of multiple startup companies, as well as Nils Bader, founder of White Lobster and initiator of the Green Product Award, navigated us through their favourite neighbourhoods, creative spots and places to go to in the city.
From East to West and Back Again
As we take off towards the western Hansaviertel, Bikini House and the old IBM headquarters, the two entrepreneurs offer some insights into their lives and projects in Berlin. Nils came to Berlin over 20 years ago. In 2013, he launched the Green Product Award asking designers to create and submit economically friendly products and services for the future. His agency also distributes sustainable products and consults clients globally.
Henning has worked for Siemens and Continental for over 20 years, but then moved to Berlin to found his own startup. His first company focussed on electromobility, but the idea was too far ahead, the necessary infrastructure was still missing at the time. Today, he runs multiple environmental tech companies. One of them focusses on smart building technologies, another one nurtures microalgaes, a protein-rich power food that offers a healthy and sustainable alternative to eating meat. While we are cruising through the Bavarian neighbourhood in Schöneberg where the streets are named after Bavarian cities, we also get a chance to see Henning's office and take a peek at the LED-illuminated algaes growing in the night.
Berlin in a nutshell
Around the corner at Nürnberger Straße, we pass the location of a former bank building that hosted a very successful street art exhibition called "the Haus" this summer right before the building was torn down. Henning tells us the exhibition was actually conceived by the landlords to raise the price for the real estate. The principle of the so-called "Zwischennutzung" has its roots in the subcultural and creative practices of post-wall Berlin when many vacant buildings and abandoned places were available and could be used for creative projects. Of course, the situation has changed a lot since then and affordable places in Berlin's central neighbourhoods are extremely hard to find these days. The ongoing real estate speculations and fast-rising living costs are a huge problem for the city and the creative culture it is connected with.
From David Bowie's old neighbourhood in Charlottenburg we then head east towards Kreuzberg, passing the Station at Gleisdreieck, home of a lot of conferences and events, Betahaus, the first co-working space in Berlin, and Aufbauhaus that hosts galleries, agencies, shops and a club. On the other side of the road, you will find Prinzessinnengärten, a social and ecological urban gardening project. After many more stories, locations and interesting insights into Berlin's culture and startup scene, we finish our tour and hop off the bus in Mitte to explore some of the fantastic nearby food places this city has to offer.