Welcome to explore; another new column on confessions of a design geek. I don’t know about you, but when I visit a city for the first time, I’m far more interested in finding the places that showcase the best of that city’s design, than visiting the usual tourist hang-outs. To that end, I have asked friends in various cities both in the UK and all over the world to share the design secrets from where they live and I’ll be posting one a month from now on. First up, Igor…
A happy hello from Munich, Germany! My name is Igor and I am the blogger at Happy Interior Blog. Today, I am very honoured to take you for a little design walk through the city that’s been my home for the past six years.
Munich is the capital of Bavaria and located in southern Germany. With a population of approximately 1.4 million, it is popularly referred to as ‘big village’. And this is a good hook to introduce you to the city’s lifestyle and approach to design, art and culture.
Munich is a beautiful city with a peculiar aesthetic taste. Munich loves it neat, clean and a tad traditional. The city is known for its rather conservative reputation, which is juxtaposed by a vibrant, rather Southern lifestyle. But let us start our little walk and discover these characteristics.
1. Right in the very centre of Munich, the oldest open food market, the ‘Viktualienmarkt’, is located. The market has been on the same spot for centuries and has strongly influenced the city’s architectural landscape. More than 140 stalls sell fruit and vegetables, cheese, delicacies, local handicraft and flowers. Moreover, the market is embellished with six fountains featuring statuettes of late local personalities from Munich. A popular photo opportunity! (Viktualienmarkt 1)
2. Let us now head north via the central square Marienplatz towards the square Odeonsplatz. There, you will be enchanted by one of the architectural landmarks of Munich, the beautiful church ‘Theatinerkirche’. Built in the 17th century in Italian high Baroque style, it disseminated that ‘Southern’ vibe I referred to before. Its Mediterranean appearance and the sunflower yellow façade strongly influenced the Baroque style in southern Germany. (Theatinerstr. 22)
3. A few walking minutes to the East, pass the Hofgarten park and we arrive at one of Munich’s finest art addresses. The ‘Haus der Kunst’ is a non-collecting art museum and features changing exhibitions of the finest artists from around the world with a strong focus on contemporary art. Moreover, the architecture is impressive, too. (Prinzregentenstr. 1)
4. We will now head back towards the centre and make a little stop-over at a very cute café, the ‘Café Fräulein’. The small café is an eclectic mix of retro chic and vintage finds, entertains with music from the 1950s and serves yummy homemade cakes and pastries. (Frauenstr. 11)
5. Time to shop! We continue now to the über-cool district of Glockenbach, that boasts little shops and galleries. Let me take you to the shop slash café ‘Kauf Dich Glücklich’ (literally: shop yourself happy) with a great mix of chosen fashion items, home décor and quirky finds. (Reichenbachstr. 14)
6. If you want more, follow me further to the little, hidden shop called ‘Ladoug’. This store features refined furniture, home accessories and textiles from around the world. The focus lies on artisan products for a happy home! (Müllerstr. 30)
7. We will have another stop in the Glockenbach area by visiting a small yet amazing art gallery named ‘Ponyhof Art Club’. This small gallery features changing artists and is housed in an old carriage passage thus striking from an architectural as well as arty point of view. (Pestalozzistr. 14)
8. To round our little city walk up, I will take you to the Eastern borough called the French Quarter. Here, a shop community called Artisan37 unites local artists and features great handmade fashion, decoration and jewellery. Definitely the address for a one of a kind piece! (Pariser Str. 37)
By visiting these landmarks and hidden spots, you will get a rough idea of the peculiar lifestyle of Munich. Traditional and conservative as opposed to vibrant and young. German yet a tad southern European. A city like a ‘big village’.
If you’re still up for more tips, let me give you my ‘Top 5’ photo opportunities in the city centre:
1. The lions at the residency (Residenz): The lion sculptures in front of the residency are said to be lucky charms if you stroke their snouts. Nice side effect: they are always super polished and shiny. (Residenzstr. 1)
2. The beautiful Hofgarten park is a beautiful Renaissance garden in Italian style and a great photo opportunity with its strict lines of blooms and adjacent fountains. (Odeonsplatz)
3. Not necessarily a question of design but most certainly of Munich lifestyle: the unique surfers at the Eisbach creek. This is what I refer to young and vibrant Munich! (Prinzregentenstr.)
4. The famous ‘Maypoles’. A Bavarian tradition and always a beautiful photo opportunity. There is an amazing one on the ‘Viktualienmarkt’.
5. A hidden and quiet corner in the city centre: The ‘Alter Hof’ (Old Court) with its medieval buildings, cobbled street, leafy trees and dabbling fountain. Charming! (Alter Hof)
And for those of you who are convinced and already planning your trip to Munich, here are my ‘Top 5’ hotel addresses in the Bavarian capital:
1. Hotel Mandarin Oriental: I have to add this for its spectacular roof top terrace and bar, its deluxe rooms and swell doormen! (Neuturmstr. 1)
2. Hotel Cortiina: A fine design hotel in the city centre with a cute little inner court garden and stylish designer furniture to please your eye! (Ledererstr. 8)
3. Hotel Louis: A brand new hotel opposite of the food market with great views and fine amenities. (Viktualienmarkt 6)
4. Hotel La Maison: A boutique hotel with an eclectic mix of styles and designs and a very limited number of rooms for a great stay in Munich. (Occamstr. 24)
5. Boutique Hotel Leonardo: Is it a lounge, is it a club, is it a hotel? For design-savvy guests who love flashy interiors, this is a great address in Munich. (Amalienstr. 25)
I hope I’ve managed to give you a little peek into the lifestyle of Munich as a design destination. What I love most about the local lifestyle and design scene is its constant tension between traditional and modern, conservative and cosmopolitan, north and south. This is reflected by an ever-changing design scene and great creativity in the city.
When it comes to local designers, I must outline my favorite Munich-based designer: the industrial designer Konstantin Grcic. He is one of the most renowned contemporary industrial designers in Germany and has enthralled the design scene with his remarkable ‘Chair One’. Definitely a designer to watch! Plus, he is of Serbian origin just like me! [The image above is of his PROgona Vitticeps installation at IMM Cologne.]
So my dear readers, this pretty much rounds up my little tour of Munich for you. Oh, just a last thing: I was asked what I will be doing this weekend. Well, I will travel to my family in Austria, a two hour train ride. Because I love the feeling of returning to Munich, to the city I live in, after a quiet weekend in the Austrian mountains. I hope to see you soon again, maybe over on Happy Interior Blog. Have a great day, friends!
Photography by Igor Josifovic, except Hotel La Maison via La Maison and Boutique Hotel Leonardo via Hotel Leonardo.