30 July 2010

The Barn, Berlin

It was 35 degree celsius in Berlin. In fahrenheit, it's really hot. The influx of the Bread & Butter Berlin trade show exhibitors were holed up at the Brandenberg airport setting up their stands while Berlin Fashion Week attendees trickled into this bohemian city, an aspect not found with such pride in any other German city.

My mission was to feed 17 staff in 1 1/2 hours. The food concessions within the show grounds were not yet opened, so I found myself looking up lunch places nearby in the Mitte neighborhood. Within 1 hour, I was able to secure 17 lunch bags from a small, cool-looking cafe called The Barn. Each 10,00 euro brown bag was filled with a ham sandwich, apple, imported fruit juice and a dessert. My blessing was not wholly due to the find, but mainly due to Ralf RĂ¼ller, the owner and founder of this recently-opened gathering hole. He was friendly, kind and more than willing to prepare as quickly as possible without asking too much of his staff. Upon pick-up, my taxi waited for us to load 2 cases of lunch bags into its trunk. I felt like a first-class executive assistant - making things happen with a support of someone who understands (believe me, after a year in Europe, things don't always happen this efficiently).

Ralf lived in London for ten years where he saw both the coffee and quick lunch options developing. Living near Borough Market, in London, he learned to appreciate the Slow Food movement gaining traction in the UK. Based on this philosophy, he has applied the regional and local elements to The Barn. Before London, he grew up in the countryside outside Holland, learning to grow and cultivate fruits and vegetables on his family's garden while having large family meals together. Much of these experiences brought him to creating The Barn, and easy and "feel-good environment."

People who make their way to The Barn:
"I am very happy about the mix of people that come to The Barn. The neighbourhood is full of galleries, media agencies, tv companies, architect offices and shops with individual labels. At the same time there are some kindergartens and schools as well as a hospital. My customers are young families or also people living in the neighbourhood. Because we are so near to Hackescher Markt and some of the museums and Jewish Heritage, a lot of people visiting Berlin pass by The Barn as well. The modern and foreign world are also mixing with residentials that have remained in the area past the re-union of the two German Countries. Which adds to the nostalgic mix of differences that are all coming together for good food and coffee."

Berlin today:
"Berlin really has a lot to offer and attracts many people that have lived in metropolitan cities such as London, New York or Tokyo. There is so much change going on and it offers great opportunities to settle and start off a new chapter in life. The quality of life is high and cost of living reasonably low for what you get here. Also, the pace is much different from other places - it has a nice and slow rhythm. Berlin still has a lot of catching up to do though - there is a strong Bio / Organic development which can mainly be found in Organic Shops that pop up here and there. As far as The Barn is concerned I believe that the combination of homemade food, regional products and excellent coffee is still unique and should be pushed throughout the city."

The Barn I Augustrasse 58, 10119 Berlin I +49 (0)151 24105136 I www.thebarn.de

19 July 2010

A Thousand Words

Florence Airport, Italy

"Absolutely Made in Italy"

14 July 2010


Rite Aide convenient store, New York City

Delivery crates on the storefront

12 July 2010

Extra Perk

West Village, New York City

The ATM machine.

06 July 2010

Function as Service

New York City

Function: To provide comfortable 'stoop' seating outside a downtown nail salon.

Design: Cut off legs of chairs.

Benefit: Efficient use of odd step on sidewalk and inviting customers to wait.

Placement: Against the wall of the storefront window; facing the warm, West-setting sun.

01 July 2010


Canal Street, New York City

Product Diversification