Thinking about Berlin, you inevitably have to consider its constant flux: the fluctuation of people in the short-term, living (night) life to the fullest; cafés and bars popping up today only to disappear the day after tomorrow. However, there is one constant in the ever-changing capital. Fashion designer Hien Le, a figure who can be placed under the category of that rare breed, the ‘real Berliner’.
Kreuzberg-born and raised, he has witnessed the transformation of the formerly rough area into a hip neighborhood packed with health food restaurants, trendy boutiques, and hidden record stores. In contrast to many original local residents, the creative doesn’t complain about the area’s evolution: he appreciates it and still calls Kreuzberg his home, his workplace. Hien Le, a passionate cyclist who has collaborated with neubau eyewear for his Autumn/Winter ’18 collection, couldn’t imagine living anywhere else, too many past and future memories strewn on the streets around the Kottbusser Tor. In the midst of his preparations for his upcoming Spring/Summer collection we met up with the talented designer to follow his traces, discovering his favorite Kreuzberg places.
My kindergarten was just around the corner here, and I remember when my mum would come to pick me up, we’d come here and eat a fish-sandwich. It used to be a very modest, simple market. Then they closed it for a while, only to reopen it once this area became more attractive in terms of shopping. Now it’s more of a hip kind of place, with various food stands and lots of different events. What I love is that everything here’s made out of regional products. My favorite stand is the ice cream parlor, or the pasta place. Also, Saroni: They make the best bread. I don’t eat bread very often, but if I choose to treat myself I always come here.
I used to play here as a child. Coming here after school was like arriving in paradise, feeding the animals and such. That pond over there: I remember, when it froze during winter, we used to stand and slide on it. One time the ice broke and I fell into the cold water. Luckily, it wasn’t that deep. It’s heartwarming to see that, even though so much has changed around here, some places have stayed the same.
So, this is the Engelbecken. It’s lovely here in the summer, to read, hang out and have a picknick with friends. Not quite like being at the beach, but it’s the closest thing comparable.
This is one my favorite cafés in Kreuzberg. It’s only been here for about three years I think. Back in the day, this place used to be the pharmacy I’d go to pick up my meds. I did find it kind of sad in the beginning, because I knew the owners and would talk to them regularly. When a friend of mine called me and asked whether or not I know this place, and that he’s turning it into a café I was somewhat relieved. I was glad to hear that it would be in good hands. Good food, nice atmosphere – always worth a visit.
Modulor used to have their store in Gneisenaustraße. It was this tiny place, and I remember coming here for the first time when it reopened at Moritzplatz. It’s huge, and basically THE place to be for creatives. They have EVERYTHING. Every time I go there just to look for one specific thing I end up spending hours here, losing myself in their huge range of products. No matter if for work stuff, or for at-home-projects: I love this place.
This is a great place to come after work, for a drink or snack. Despite it still being in the heart of the city, it still bares a certain serenity, a place you can go to flee from everyday-struggles.
Photography by Paul Aiden Perry