Fascinating Photos of Berlin in the 1980s

Between 1961 and 1989, the Berlin Wall divided East and West Germany and prevented the mass defection that took place after World War II. It also acted as a symbolic partition between democracy and Communism during the Cold War period. The wall was erected in the middle of the night, but it was torn down just as quickly 28 years later, leading to Germany’s reunification. Chris John Dewitt captured the dark period in the country’s history when the wall stood like an eyesore. The photographer snapped images of both sides, but during a trip to the East, he quickly learned how restrictive even taking a picture would be: … Read More

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Flirting With Fascism: The Design World’s Bizarre Romance With Totalitarian Imagery

Earlier this week, complaints regarding a J.C. Penney billboard in Culver City resulted in the removal of an expensive piece of signage. Apparently, it looked too much like an evil dictator; viewed from a certain angle, the ad for a Michael Graves-designed Bells and Whistles Stainless Steel Tea Kettle featured a handle that looked like a neatly parted mop of hair, a spout that resembled a saluting arm, and a lid knob that looked like Oliver Hardy’s adorable toothbrush mustache. … Read More

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A WWII Concrete Relic Turned Superhero Hideout

What remains of the Nazi Europe? Mostly reinforced concrete towers and bunkers, whose immense size and incredibly thick walls proved difficult, even impractical, to destroy. In the 70 years or so since their construction, the structures, usually scattered along the beach or stranded in fields, have cultivated an aesthetic aura that continues to intensify as the generational gap and cultural gulf between the war and contemporary life widens. In France, for example, families in coastal towns near the Atlantic Wall have integrated some of the local bunkers into opulent single family homes. Similarly, in Belgium, architects Bham Design Studio have rehabilitated another Nazi infrastructural relic for domestic life, in what we think is a much more successful, if spurious, effort.

Built between 1938 and 1941 near the village of Steenokkerzeel, the 30-meter tall structure functioned as a water tower – briefly used by the Nazis – up until the ’90s, when it was decommissioned and preserved as a war monument. The exterior was completely restored to its original condition, while the interior was completely gutted, save for the concrete ceilings, stairs, and other elements which were left intact, repainted, and repaired where needed. The windows on the top floor were widened to accommodate a “sculptural” kitchen, library, cat house, and general living space. A steel bridge connects this floor to a rooftop panoramic terrace that offers expansive views of the region. The house was designed for two permanent residents, while a guest room on the second level may be rented throughout the month. Click through to check out some images. … Read More

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The Morning After: Desolate Photos of German Night Clubs

Two students from Hamburg photographed famous local nightlife hotspots early in the morning, after everyone has gone. You can almost smell the alcohol fumes lingering in the air, see the dust settling among scuff marks and spills. There are bits of trash strewn aside mid-activity, collecting like streams at the edges of the dance floor, along the abandoned DJ booths. There’s a stillness. There are no people. They’ve all retreated to darker corners, away from the harsh lights. Spotted by Visual News, these photos by Giesermann André and Daniel Schulz let you see these clubs as they really are. … Read More

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Very Public Display of Emotion: Lindau, Germany’s ‘Feel-o-meter’

Dreamed up by Julius von Bismarck, Benjamin Maus, and Richard Wilhelmer, the Fühlometer (aka “Feel-o-meter”) is an interactive public art installation located on top of a lighthouse in Lindau, Germany, that monitors the moods of passersby via a digital camera, and then adjusts its own illuminated expression accordingly to happy, sad, or indifferent. Click through to see a clip of the device in action, as well as some additional photos. … Read More

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Photo Gallery: The Wild and Crazy Barflies of 1960s Germany

We may read about the French cabarets of the Belle Époque or the acid tests of ’60s San Francisco, but how often do we get to see photos of how regular people partied in the past? That (along with the beautiful, black-and-white composition and mid-century, Central European fashion) is what’s so fascinating about Anders Petersen’s Café Lehmitz series, which we discovered via How to Be a Retronaut. Taken in a Hamburg bar between 1967 and 1970, the photographs show regulars behaving naughtily — lovebirds making out in public, drunkards passing out at their tables, middle-aged gals flashing bra, elderly gentlemen removing their shirts to either fight or dance (we can’t tell). Witness the debauchery after the jump. … Read More

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Daily Dose Pick: Rebel Youth

Offering a photographic view of an urban Swiss subculture, Karlheinz Weinberger’s Rebel Youth takes book lovers for a walk on Zurich’s wild side in the 1960s.

A warehouse worker by day, Weinberger led a double life documenting the unconventional street styles of juvenile delinquents, biker gangs, and gay youths. Influenced by the defiant personas of Elvis Presley and James Dean, the young subjects flaunt homegrown fashions and hipster hairdos to convey individualist attitudes, while still running with a pack. … Read More

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Video of the Day: Octopus Oracle Says Spain Beats Germany

Paul is a psychic octopus from Germany who makes World Cup predictions, and he says that Spain will win today’s semi-final match against his home country. Before you roll your eyes, Paul has an 80% success rate when it comes to predicting the outcome of Germany’s World Cup matches. It kind of makes Punxsutawney Phil’s weather predictions sound like amateur hour, right? Click through to watch Paul do his thing, and then find some sucker to place your bets with — the score is currently tied at zero. … Read More

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Architecture Drama: Dresden Military History Museum

Identity politics, architectural decorum, Neo-Nazis, and a bleak recent history: building a military history museum in Germany is just as complicated as you might expect. American architect Daniel Libeskind — most well-known for his Jewish Museum in Berlin — has designed a modified shell for an old arsenal building overlooking the city of Dresden, a town almost entirely decimated by Allied forces in 1945 at the end of World War II. George Packer covered the brouhaha in a recent issue of the New Yorker, and Libeskind has been defending his design to press in days surrounding the 65th anniversary of the Dresden bombing on February 13. Examine the issue and check out the project’s design after the… Read More

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