Holiday Gift Guide: Made in Berlin
December 10, 2015
Ahh, Berlin. It is a glorious place. So full of creative, entrepreneurial energy, which makes it an ideal city to seek out locally-made and designed products for the gift-giving season. Some of these great items I've picked up myself, some have been past gifts and some I pine for on my own wish list, but they are indeed some of the best that Berlin has to offer. Here are my picks (plus, a little background on each):
01. Antikapratika ceramic bowls | This Italian couple and tattoo-artist team started creating art off the skin with this gorgeous line of tattoo-inspired ceramic bowls. While the blue-based tattoo designs are their focus, I must admit I love the black designs that they have produced of late. You can see more at Un Autre Voodoo in Neukölln, and they seem happy to work with customers who want more of a specific design. This one's on my list please, Santa!
02. Maisoap | I first stumbled across this soap at a Christmas shopping market last year and have since noticed it popping up at various weekend markets across the city. Kreuzberg-based, this family business has been in operation since 2006, focusing on quality fats and oils for its soap production. Scents range from subtle basics like olive oil or lavender to the more complex coconut-lemongrass, avocado-mint and the cosmic-looking Berlin Bubble. While they offer essential oils and bath bombs as well, the bars of soap are really the stars.
03. Fluenk leather bags | While I was first intrigued by designer Anna's simple, soft tote bags at the Mauerpark Flohmarkt, complete with straps long enough for my lengthy limbs and an interior closer (thank goodness!), I have since become smitten with the rest of her unique yet timeless designs. Working with cow leather that would otherwise be a waste product of the food industry, the leather is tanned in Italy and made into not only bags, but wallets and other small goods as well. Though Fluenk is relatively new, the quality and craftsmanship speaks to a lasting Berlin business.
04. Atheist shoes | Ironically, I first found out about this company from the Instagram of a US-based graphic designer. Drawn in by the cheeky atheism messages stamped on the soles (and emblazoned on tote bags), I was won over by this concept of handmade, quality shoes. Technically, they're constructed in Portugal, but designed here in Berlin. With leather that is unprocessed, vegetable-dyed and gently tumbled for softness, customers swear they're 'like walking on hugs from baby kittens'.
05. Apfelsina bags | It doesn't get more Berlin than a bag made from photographs of this city's iconic landmarks and street art. Founded over a decade ago, creator Ina Kerkhoff began with a small, colourful collection of bags, and quickly expanded to varying materials and concepts as the inspiration struck. Designed and handmade in Berlin, her Stone Bone and Tempelhofer Freiheit collections are quite literally a pictorial representation of this great city.
06. Belyzium chocolate | A fan from day one, I've been frequenting this Berlin chocolatier for some time. At first, it was for the chocolate bars, now, I'm a regular for its spicy, rich Maya hot chocolate. With the addition of ice cream, hazelnut chocolate spread and even chocolate-infused rum, it has become the ultimate chocolate destination in Berlin. The owners will happily wax poetic about their chocolate, which only makes you fall more in love with the place. Finding out they had US-based partners in the California city I called home for a good part of my twenties felt even more like I was meant to be there. I often stop in when I need a small gift for someone, but have a hard time leaving without something for myself as well!
07. Format clothing | A bit like Atheist shoes, this Berlin-based clothing company creates well-designed, quality pieces from quality materials. Made in both Berlin-Neukölln and Szczecin, Poland, the designs are described as minimalistic, but with some truly beautiful tucking and pleating used in unexpected ways. With such attention to detail and certified organic materials, these are investment pieces meant to last a lifetime. My favorite is this cozy hooded sweater that is the epitome of Berlin winter wear.
08. Kaiserhonig | Anyone who knows me, knows I adore this honey. In two variations: thick honey with various fruit or spice or herb additions, or a creamier 'milk cream' honey with flavors like whiskey creme and salted caramel, they are a delicious treat on breakfast toast. You can also pick up an assortment of three small jars - perfect for gift-giving - at its regular stand at the Mauerpark Flohmarkt. Side note: a jar of the Zimt honey is a regular on my mom's Christmas list!
09. Berliner Winter | Cloudy, organic apple juice, spices and vodka. Drink it warm to stave off that Berlin winter chill. Buy it in bulk to give as gifts or horde for your own warming purposes. 'Keeps you warm, makes you tipsy and tastes so delicious.' What could be better - or more Berlin? Talk about a perfect stocking stuffer.
10. Elicamente jewelry | Hailing from Rome, Berlin-based artist Gabriele di Stefano makes gorgeous jewelery pieces that combine ceramics with wood and brass, drawing on the connection between humans and nature. The simple stud earrings and MRMR collection of necklaces are definite stand-outs. It also looks like he's branching out into other areas, with lovely little concrete planters available for pre-order to ship in February.
*photo of Antikapratika bowls by talented Berlin food photographer Claudia Gödke