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Two days in Leipzig: a design guide

in My Leipzig/Places to see by

THE TASK

Last week we were at the Designers’ Open (DO), showing the event and Leipzig to a Danish blogger – Allan Torp, from Bungalow5.dk.

As we told you previously, we were taking part in a “blogger tandem project”, which also brought outside bloggers to the city, who were respectively received by local ones. It was organised by Kiss&Tell Communication, on behalf of Simply Saxony (the promotion initiative of the state) and the fair itself.

As you can imagine that meant a mixture of a lot of work and fun. It was a unique task: to tailor a Leipzig experience for a guy who writes about (and coherently lives) a very aesthetic Scandinavian lifestyle.

The LeipGlo team gave this challenge to me, Marina. And I decided to rediscover the city with Allan.

Having lived here for about eight years now, it was high time to feel like a tourist in town again.

I love Leipzig and also know that its beauty and coolness are sometimes not as evident and mainstream as in other European cities. For me, the most amazing thing in Leipzig is to be able to observe how the city is changing and being transformed by its dwellers.

Industrial ruin in Plagwitz
Industrial ruin in Plagwitz

One doesn’t need to live here to notice it. Since it isn’t a finished endeavour, there are a lot of marks of this transformation, things going on, and places that are still untouched (for good or bad).

It is Leipzig’s hybrid, in-progress character, and the contrast between the historical buildings from many epochs and the empty or abandoned spaces, that make the city so unique. I didn’t want Allan to miss this.

Considering the fact that we should check some external spots of the Designers’ Open, as well as the fair itself, and that Allan previously told me that he would like to have a look at shops and cafés in the city, I created a kind of compact Leipzig design guide for him. I did some research in advance, talked to many different friends, read about the city from many different sources and also picked my favourite sights.

The weather wasn’t great that weekend, but it could have been worse. We got wet sometimes; it was very grey, but at some points, we enjoyed a bit of a timid sun.

So actually we could have seen more, but especially when we arrived downtown. All we wanted to do was to get warmed up and have something to eat. On the other hand, I didn’t have the ambition to show him the whole city in less than two days.

Still, we managed to see a lot.

THE TOUR

Day One: Friday

On Friday afternoon, I picked Allan up at his hotel in Südvorstadt. The Karli was almost at his doorstep, and we went southwards.

I started talking about the city and the street. We went to the Feinkost. No, there is nothing minimal or white there, but this fantastic lively space is the home of a Leipziger jewel of industrial interior design: namely the workshop/designer studio Goldstein. Unfortunately, it was closed for lunch, and we did not come back.

Alte Fleischrei, FlamingoCat | Leipzig: a design guide
Alte Fleischerei

We kept walking and taking in the sights – die naTo, the Südplatz, the surroundings. We grabbed a coffee-to-go at Café Maître Patisserie and walked to the Alte Fleischerei.

This sweet atelier in an old butcher shop is unobtrusive from outside. But once you get inside, you have these beautiful walls with decorative tiles and an amazing thematic ceiling. You also have the wonderful geometric jewellery of FlamingoCat – you can see Alexandra Pauly, the designer of the label, working on her pieces – and the pictures of her atelier mate, photographer Robert Strehler.

We finished our coffee, had a nice small chat with Alexandra, and left for the city centre.

Allan and I got off the tram at Augustusplatz. I explained its unusual architectural composition to him: the communist buildings in different styles (Opera, Post and Gewandhaus), the university’s new building, the ensemble of the Goethestraße. We briefly went inside the Gewandhaus to discover more about its history and architecture.

When we left, it was raining harder. We took advantage of the Leipziger passages to see the centre.

The rain soon stopped, so we went to the Nikolaistraße. There, we saw two of the DO/Spots: the clean-designed Swiss eyewear shop VIU and Handbrotzeit, a lovely bluish and white Pinterest-like bakery (which was completely packed in a gold foil – hence, not as sweet as usual, but not to be overlooked).

We also checked St!l, a Scandinavian-inspired home design store. Allan liked it. Maybe it was a mere-exposure effect; perhaps it was just because the place is indeed very charming. But most probably it was a mixture of both.

Stil concept store home design | Leipzig: a design guide
St!l

At that point, we were wet, hungry and tired. So we went to Imperii. I knew it was open.

Honestly, I hadn’t been there before. But I’d checked everything: photos of the ambient, evaluations, the menu, and also if they would have something for “in between”, like a snack. On the web, I had seen different options of “bar food” and no restrictions about the ordering time during the day.

We went inside, chose a nice place to sit. The bar/restaurant is elegant and stylish. But I was very disappointed when the waiter said we could only choose between a mix of salami and cheese or currywurst.

We gave it a try. I think neither Allan nor I had the intention to go to a new place. Sitting and warming up were our priority at that moment.

Allan had the mix and I took the currywurst with sweet potato fries because I cannot eat dairy products. He was not impressed by his mix, but probably happier than I was. I’ve eaten better currywurst in my life. Of course, no one should measure the bar by this experience: Its specialities are allegedly the drinks and cocktails. But for these, it was still too early.

We left Imperii and went to the East. Since we’d mostly spend the next day in the West, I wanted to show him at least the Vary – Record Store & Café in the Eisenbahnstraße. It has a cool ambience and music, and it’s indicative of the next developments of the city.

From there we went home to rest and get refreshed, because we’d meet again in the evening for the vernissage of the Designers’ Open. (About the fair itself, I will write a second, separate post.)

Day two: Saturday

Allan had to work a bit in the morning, so the early program did not happen. I would have taken him to Pilot or the Fleischerei (the café) to have breakfast, and from there we could have checked the DO/spot MZIN. I would define MZIN as a store for print design, since it sells magazines and design/art publications, but also posters and even vinyl records. And for lovers of fine publications and graphic design, it is definitely the best address in Leipzig.

But since it did not happen, we met first at the Designers’ Open, then left towards the West. We came to Karl Heine Straße already in the afternoon.

And it was different, not the way it is in the summer. It was empty and sad.

We went to grab something to eat. Fortunately, Dipasquale was open. We ate, had coffee and gianduia, and left happy.

rotor leipzig bikes | Leipzig: a design guide
Rotor

We went to search for Rotor – the already renowned workshop for tailor-made bikes in Leipzig. For bike fans, it is a must-go.

On the way, Allan could see and understand Plagwitz and the city better (its economic relevance in the past, the process of deindustrialisation, etc.).

We left for the very creative collective workshop and design project Die Fabrik. It’s a pity that they did not have their furniture on exhibit (though you can see it in their online catalogue). But we could still discover much of their work, and their sound boxes (“tomboxes”) are indeed enthralling.

We walked further to the Spinnerei. There, we went to the Archiv Massiv. I always think it offers an excellent introduction to what it was before and what it is now.

After roaming around a bit and having another coffee, we left for the Kunstkraftwerk to see an upcycling exhibition, specially curated for the Designers’ Open. (You can check out a LeipGlo article about it here.)

This exhibition was our last DO/spot, and it was already part of the joint evening we had with all bloggers. After that, we went to have a pizza together at the brand new White Monkey | Pizza Lab and Bar.

Die Fabrik Tombox | Leipzig: a design guide
Die Fabrik

The evening was pleasant, and I said goodbye to Allan there because he would leave early on Sunday.

______

Featured Image: Thomas Riese; 2008 (Spinnerei Press Kit).

Someone always in transit and dialogue between Brazil and Germany, market and academia, dream and reality. A freelance designer, marketing and branding expert, who came to Leipzig to do her PhD. in Global Studies and hasn't left.

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