People who design malls aren’t very kind. They do a good job at making people who don’t normally think about claustrophobia, think about claustrophobia. It’s quite hard to concentrate on shopping when you literally can’t see an exit. Bikini Berlin is different, thankfully. It might sound cringeworthy to say, that “it is not your typical mall” – but really, it isn’t. The new self-proclaimed “concept shopping center” is located in the western area of downtown Berlin, and is an antidote to the fluorescent, noisy labyrinths everyone has come to loathe. Urban-organic and experiential in its conception, the space allows for breathing space and invites you to linger- from its roof terrace, you even see the monkeys from neighboring Berlin Zoo.
The building is calm and open. From the comfortable perch of a beanbag, the small and interesting details of the architecture become obvious - exposed pipes, crushed glass – very industrial, and very Berlin. The curiously named “Bikini” owes its name due to its two-tier architecture, which was nicknamed the “Bikinihaus” back in the 1950’s when it was first built.
And what's inside? The selection of shops and vendors is rather anti-highstreet, and the idea behind Bikini is to provide interesting and up-and-coming designers with a space to showcase and offer their wares, alongside some of the usual suspects, for example Acne or Stella McCartney for Adidas. The rails are hung with ruched cotton, chiffon, silk and sequins, in the quintessential Berlin palate: black, white and shades of gray, with spontaneous pops of color. The ground floor is a colony of wooden boxes- pop-up shops that can be rented out for one year, in which you’ll find beautiful, locally crafted leather handbags, homewares and cosmetics.
One of the most unique spaces at Bikini is the shop LNFA (Life Networking for Fashion and Art), showcasing a great selection of up-and-coming designers all under the one roof. Sevile Uguz, lawyer-turned-fashionista who manages the store, said she wanted to pull together usually remote and lesser-known designers and make them more accessible for the discerning fashion crowd. The plan is to bring in small collections from each designer on a rotating basis, and the diversity in her store is fantastic– everything from Berlin made Hänska backpacks, to silky lingerie, to eccentric knitwear by Jonny Milla.
Bikini is less shopping trip, more cultural excursion – it’s a hub of interesting activity. If you don’t have too much cash on hand, you can always check out the gallery and video installations, treat yourself to some of Berlin's best macaroons... or just chill out with the monkeys.