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Indesign’s Berlin correspondent checks into a unique hotel in East Berlin.



December 16th, 2009

“Berlin is unique. Nothing is permanent. Nothing is perfect.”

Thomas Michelberger describes the process of design, collaboration and accidental imperfections that have developed into the raw, creative and rebellious interior of the michelberger hotel.

Six years ago, a group of friends from diverse backgrounds came together with a romantic idea; to create a shared house where they could live together and friends and family would always be welcome and feel comfortable.

In September this year, their dream was finally realised in the form of a 119-bedroom hotel, designed with an exceptional level of precision and detail but epitomising the rough yet personal atmosphere that is unique to East Berlin, where it is located.

“Guests are truly guests, staying at the house of a group of friends.”

The high ceilings, stone archways, oversized paned windows and large internal courtyard of the former factory building in Friedrichshain seem to have transformed effortlessly into the hotel in its current form whilst still retaining the memories and history of its former use.

Throughout the bedrooms and public spaces, every detail is thought through with a playful combination of textures, colours and forms and an abundance of personal elements either custom designed by designer Werner Aisslinger or hand picked from the flea markets and antique stores of which Berlin has no shortage.

The collaborative design process is evident within the various public spaces, which allow guests to flow easily from one area to another.

Entering under a Hollywood style sign with oversized light bulbs, the community atmosphere is apparent.

The unusually understated reception desk creates a casual environment, apparent by the diverse mix of guests and locals sit together in the foyer and bar under oversized lampshades made entirely of 1960s – 70s German travel books designed by Werner Aisslinger, who explains “My approach was to do a collage world, not a clean, designed world.”

The standard room types, referred to by their size 33m2, 55m2 and 88m2, show a unique level of space efficiency and vertical play with the loft beds perched above the bathrooms with views past the sunflower yellow curtains, onto either the river Spree or the internal courtyard.

Graphic designer Azar Kazimir was a part of the team from the beginning and has contributed to the fanatical level of detail in the public and private areas with unique hand designed wallpapers, signage and branding throughout.

“The design and construction process”, Thomas explains, “was driven by passion and moral rather than contract, involving the construction team from the outset and developing the design right through the construction process”.

Walls have been left unfinished and marks on the polished concrete floors sealed in, the unintentional imperfections have become part of the charm of this unique hotel.

It’s honest. It’s original. It’s Berlin.


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