Berlin through the eyes of Product Design student Sebastien Holt

Our BA (Hons) Product Design students recently spent four days exploring the German capital, Berlin. The optional study trip offered the unique opportunity to experience different design cultures and thinking.

Our BA (Hons) Product Design students recently spent four days exploring the German capital, Berlin. The optional study trip offered the unique opportunity to experience different design cultures and thinking.

Year Two student Sebastien Holt shares his experiences.

The first thing you have to do when you arrive in any German city is to have a locally brewed beer at a biergarten (or in my case anything other than beer). This was our first experience of Berlin culture and it was quite refreshing (unintentional pun). We were sat amongst a sea of yellow within a dilapidated lido that had been transformed into a welcoming social hub ladened with a good helping of beer, sun and bratwurst. If you’re interested, it was called Prater Garten and was within the design district of Mitte. We eventually came back here on our last day for a good helping of boutique retail therapy.

On the Wednesday the university organised a trip to Flughafen Tempelhof, a part of the trip I was rather excited about. It’s impressive to say the least: a space larger than Monaco housing a Nazi-era terminal building that only ceased operations as a commercial airport in 2008. This airport was also the main hub during the Berlin airlift when all routes into West Berlin were shut off.

There are many architectural features of this building that set the standards today for modern passenger-orientated travel. Large expansive windows create a more airy environment, while covered gates allow comfortable boarding in any conditions. Remember this was completed in 1937 and was quite revolutionary for the time.

No trip to Berlin would really be complete without taking a visit to the wall that divided the city for so many years. The wall is not only a sign of modern conflict, but also the artistry of Berliners. They do not hide behind their history, instead using the remains of what stood as a canvas to tell the world that they value freedom and human rights. The East Side Gallery is evidence of this.

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, standing peacefully within the Friedrichstadt neighbourhood, was thought provoking and allowed many members of the group to reflect in their own way. The towering blocks are meant to simulate the oppressive nature of the regime while the ordered rows show that side of the system. It must be stated that while this city is facing up to its history, it is definitely not being defined by it.

So, what can we as designers take from this? To me, this trip opened up the importance of people in relation to design. Berlin is all about the Berliners within it and would be nothing without them. Design is the same. Each designer is defined by their own personal style, in addition to the specific people they are designing for.

Written by Sebastien Holt, BA (Hons) Product Design

Berlin through the eyes of Product Design student Sebastien Holt

Published on 4 May 2017
  • Category: School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment

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