xXx The avant guardians of black

Loath as we are to get into the hornets nest of hipsterdom, there appears to be two factions (among many) at opposing ends of the Berlin style spectrum. In the decidedly multicolour corner, you’ve got the vintage pixies and their joyous hand-me-down garbs. While at the other end, there are the avant guardians of the colour black. From a seemingly dystopian future, their Matrix reboot involves rags atop of rags, so much so, that you can no longer tell where one piece of clothing ends and the other begins.

To cut to the chase: xXx belongs to the latter, post-apocalyptic hipster camp. Though androgyny is positively encouraged in this brave new world, there are nominative menswear and womenswear sections sprinkled throughout this stunning loft space. Created with love by a small crew of Dutch implants, it’s a masterclass in stripped-back interior design, with artworks offsetting the stark black-and-white colour palette.

For lovers of all things black or those searching for some off-the-rack cool, xXx could be your new be-all-and-end-all boutique – granted the word ‘luxury’ doesn’t make you nor your bank manager wince. For the remaining hoi polloi, though well and truly hidden in a courtyard off Skalitzer Straße, the interior itself is still worth your most determined through-the-rabbit-hole efforts.

Row NYC Making you feel brand new featured
Art und Weise Moonshiners

Quirky, softly-lit bars are to Neukölln what kid-friendly Bio-Cafes are to Prenzlauer Berg. They’re everywhere. In fact, if you fell over within a 1km radius of the Schillerpromenade, you’d probably land on an upcycled armchair with a Moscow Mule in your hand. Such is their abundance, that picking one to park up in can prove problematic (first world problems eh?). Art und Weise, though, is a great place to hedge your bets.

It ticks many boxes of the modern Kneipe: There’s foosball out back, giant art on the wall, and the vibe is more ‘kick back’ than ‘kick off’. Decor-wise, it treads the line between beaten up and slick, with its bare concrete floor, tattered two-seaters, and kitschy crystal-glass ashtrays on the one hand and its polished pinewood bar, velvet-topped stools, and hanging lights on the other. Behind the bar there’s a decent selection of hard liquors (including a fruity and fiery house-made brew called H.E.R.B) that get mixed up into both classic cocktails and funkier, off-the-menu concoctions. If you’re being less adventurous and sticking to the beers, rock up between 6pm and 8pm and you can get a Groß for the price of a Klein.

Friends of the place spin crackly, old gramophone tunes on quieter nights, and let loose with meatier sets of a higher BPM come the weekend. Also, despite the relative lack of space, they host a heap of live art installations, film nights and impromptu jam sessions on an ad-hoc basis. What’s more, to further endear themselves to the Kiez, they go into ice cream production mode come the summer — so you can substitute that post-session Döner for two scoops instead.

Voo Store Conceptually yours

While every retail PR dummy in the world has been spewing the ‘concept store’ tag for nearly a decade now, credit where it’s due, Voo Store is a bona fide bricks-and-mortar concept. And what that means for the layman, one unversed in buzzwords and the correct angle to wear a snapback this season? Well…

This former locksmiths has been converted into an expansively cool space where fashion, art and design mingle effortlessly, as if free prosecco were on tap. Rather than just presenting trendy clothes and accessories from both established and leftfield names, the offering is more all-encompassing than that. Displays and furniture double-up as a showcase for contemporary design whereas the products for sale stretch out from the fashion world to include unique trinkets, gift ideas, and coffee table books. The concept store T’s being crossed by the occasional popup exhibition or fashion week schmoozer, naturally.

Through this breadth and ambience, Voo represents a young, creative and style-conscious scene unlike any other store in the city. Or put more succinctly: Hipster HQ. As evidenced further by the miniature third-wave coffee bar lurking in the corner. At Companion Coffee, a delicately whiskered barista will sort you out with a stonkingly fine brew as you soak up the vibes, getting high on the tailpipe of modern Berlin. Just be careful, in this state, not to spill your jet-black drink over that €1000+ concrete doozy of a table from local design wunderkind, Sigurd Larsen.

Echo Bücher When is a bookstore not a bookstore?

Dedicated to Berlin’s favorite post-Wende pastime – the rave – this is not your regular type of book shop. Reverberating between all the lines of these books is the unz unz of electronic music. In English and German, you will find definitive analyses of club culture from Berlin and further afield. And if you want to turn those K-raddled Monday morning musings from Panorama Bar into your breakthrough novel, here might be the place to pitch it, as there’s a range of “techno novels” on the shelves too. But don’t let that put you off.

Spanish owner David Armengou has created a real paradise for the chin-scratching club kids of Berlin. So if you’re interested in the past, present and future of a scene that has come to define this city over the past 20+ years, then it’s more than worth the BVG boot up to Wedding. Rewards are not just book-based either. Records, posters and t-shirts are also for sale, as well as drinks in the espresso-sized Echo Bücher cafe. There is usually a club-themed exhibition of sorts on the white-plastered walls and then come the weekend, as you might imagine, they’re partial to a party or two. Think: Local label showcases and audio-visual performances.

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