NO NEWS NEWS #3
EX LIBRIS
June 21, 2020
 

Welcome to EX LIBRIS No News News #3! With this issue we’ll venture into new territory by devoting it to Berlin’s unique architect, Hinrich Baller. The houses he and his partners built are among the most recognizable in the German capital: mint green metal ornaments + biomorphic concrete structures = fantasy-Futurism. At a time when positive narratives for the future are elusive, looking at utopian ideas in architecture conceived in the ’60s and ’70s offers a way forward. Who cares that Hinrich Baller is the architect all the purists love to hate?

No News News #3 featuring Alexa Karolinski, Ewa Effiom, Felix Burrichter, Gunnar Klack, Magnus Pettersson, Ricarda Messner, Tom Blesch & Tim Heyduck

 
 

EDITORIALHANS BUSSERT

ORNAMENT IS
NOT A CRIME

I’ll tell you a secret: Hinrich Baller has been on my mind for some time now. Not only because here in Berlin there’s really no way to escape his weirdly expressive, ornament-strewn houses. No, ever since I commissioned a story on him as the editor-in-chief of a glossy fashion title, I’ve been wanting to do something bigger: an exhibition, a book, anything really.

Cut to me emailing back and forth with Baller’s wife, Doris, which is when it became apparent that the duo were flattered but not particularly interested. This may have more to do with time considerations, since the architect is about to turn 84 in July; involving himself with a layman, however enthusiastic, is probably not his top priority.

Luckily there are quite a few other Baller fans out there: a young publisher who’s been living in his apartments for almost all her life, the editor of an architecture magazine interested in these buildings’ solarpunk aesthetic, the director of a Netflix series in which the Baller house on Winterfeldtplatz plays a major role and an architecture critic who isn’t scared to praise the architect’s antithetical appeal.

Many of his fellow architects loathe this kind of free-form thinking.

Because that’s the thing – the Ballers’ utopian approach is mostly admired by non-architects. For example, their willingness to stretch the limits of public housing regulations in order to maximize living space made them the perfect co-conspirators for squatters, whom the Baller office assisted in both Berlin and Hamburg. At the same time, many of his fellow architects loathe this kind of free-form thinking that shows a disregard for conventions.

This disregard didn’t originate from Hinrich Baller alone. His first wife, Inken, and his second, Doris, were co-authors on every project he did during their marriages, which is why you’ll find us referring to “the Ballers”. Hinrich may be the most famous of them, but he was certainly not the only one doing the work.

This issue of No News News is not a final verdict on Berlin’s most singular surname in architecture but a review of their impact through the eyes of creatives from different fields. Not the definitive tome for your coffee table (although we’d love to see one), but a conversation starter to share (please forward!) and talk about.

I promise, this is not the last you’ll ever hear of Hinrich Baller – either from us or our contributors…

 
 

OPEN HOUSERICARDA MESSNER

HOW TO LIVE
LIKE A BALLER
© Magnus Pettersson

I love my apartment, especially in the summertime. When I’m hanging out on my balcony, I frequently see passersby pausing in front of my building, taking a closer look at it – sometimes confused, sometimes amused. Its facade, which includes a series of squiggly metal balconies, definitely grabs attention amidst the other older building complexes in Berlin.

This same apartment was my mom’s first, which she moved into in the late ‘80s after coming to Berlin. It’s the apartment where I was born, and now it’s mine (to rent, at least). For 22 years, the place wasn’t ours; we moved out when I was a baby. And now I live here again, in this 50-square-meter apartment, located on Schloßstraße in Charlottenburg in a social housing complex. 

It was about time to meet the man for a conversation in person – the architect of my eternal home.

Eight years ago, when I was looking for a place on my own, my grandmother called me to say that she believed my mother’s old apartment was vacant again. My grandparents have lived in the building next door, which belongs to the same Hinrich Baller complex, for over 30 years. And that’s why, even when we moved away, I was never actually gone, since I visited my grandparents in their apartment all the time. The tip was correct: I’d like to believe that showing the property managers photos of my first birthday party in my mom’s old apartment was a crucial part of me getting that rental contract. 

In the end, I thought it was about time to meet the man for a conversation in person – the architect of my eternal home. Hinrich Baller doesn’t live too far away from me, next to the Lietzensee lake. Funnily enough, you actually have to search for his apartment, it’s hidden away as an extension on the roof of a typical Berliner Altbau, one that doesn’t make you stop and stare. 

© Magnus Pettersson

When I arrived at the Altbau, the architect picked me up at the entrance and we took the elevator to the seventh floor. Upon entering, I found myself in roughly 300 square meters divided over two floors; without a fixed layout of defined rooms, the living area morphs into the working space. Architectural plans were scattered over multiple tables and there were plants everywhere. I was introduced to his wife, Doris Baller, who sat at a table with a ruler and a pen. The two of them had been living here since 1990. 

For our conversation, Baller asked me to follow him up a flight of steps, painted mint green, one of his signature colors. They led to an open gallery space with a beautiful view across the lake. I asked him who plays the grand piano in the living room. Baller grew up in a musical household, he told me; his mother was a pianist. He started to study at the music school in Berlin himself but then switched to the Technische Universität. The discipline it required to practice the piano daily came in handy for his architecture degree. He took his time – 20 semesters – to feel properly ready: “If you’ve got the dream and the imagination, but not the proper knowledge over your craft, you won’t get very far.”

We need brightness in order to be able to feel serenity,” he said. I knew exactly what he was talking about.

His first house, built when he was just 30, was developed in Hinwil, close to Zurich. His client offered him carte blanche over a property on a mountain pass that came with a dreamlike panorama. He proudly remembers an article published in a Swiss newspaper describing the outcome of his work as “a house you can breathe in.” “We need brightness in order to be able to feel serenity,” he said. I knew exactly what he was talking about – his wide, bright windows bring me utter architectural happiness. In the summertime, I frequently open my balcony doors, put a towel on the floor, and wait for the afternoon sun, in case I prefer some privacy instead of tanning outside.

Once you start paying attention to Baller in Berlin’s cityscape, you start seeing him all over. Winterfeldtplatz, Hackesche Höfe, Preußenpark, Halensee, Potsdamer Straße – the architecture studio of Baller and his ex- and current wife has more than 100 realized projects to its name. He did construct some more in the rest of Germany and abroad, but Baller made the capital his main site. Baller is Berlin – complex and multilayered, with a unique sense of humor. 

At the end of our conversation, I told him about the tourists on my street who stop and stare at the building’s architecture on their way to the Charlottenburg Palace nearby. He grinned: “Well that’s the intended reaction. A facade needs to create some attention. The person living there wants to be admired. It’s the same effect you want when you put on an outfit.” 

Born and bred in Berlin, Ricarda Messner is the publisher of Flaneur and Sofa magazines (and a self-confessed Britney fan on top). Magnus Pettersson, who took these photos of the Ballers’ apartment, was as equally charmed by the inhabitants as he was by their BMW S 1000 RR.

 

Speculative ArchitectureFELIX BURRICHTER

MAKING ART NOUVEAU PUNK AGAIN

Eventually, even the Internet will run out of sibilant adjectives to create neologisms with the suffix “-punk”. But that day is not here yet. We’ve seen cyberpunk (probably the mother of all punky conjunctions), steampunk, seapunk, splatterpunk and most recently: solarpunk.

Regarded as a successor to its cyber- and steam- relatives, solarpunk picks up some of their themes – nostalgia and a focus on tech – to weave a new narrative. Instead of just glorifying “simpler” times or lending itself to dystopian viewpoints, the movement has a rosier outlook. As such it’s as much a vision for the future as it is an aesthetic. This is how tumblr user Miss Olivia Louise described her idea of Solarpunk in a post from 2014:

Natural colors! Art Nouveau! Handcrafted wares! Airships! Stained glass window solar panels!!! Less corporate capitalism, and more small businesses! Communal greenhouses on top of apartments! Renewable energy-powered Art Nouveau-styled tech life!

Despite physical and temporal distance, the shared qualities with Hinrich Baller’s style are striking. In particular, the buildings’ ornamental and kitschy art nouveau elements that make themes reminiscent of the aesthetic of solarpunk. Here, PIN-UP magazine’s Felix Burrichter takes this link even further by blending iconic Baller buildings into a collage that we hope will make Solarpunk fans weep and Baller naysayers rethink the architect’s utopian appeal.

Felix Burrichter is the editor of PIN-UP, the “only biannual magazine for architectural entertainment.” When asked to contribute to this issue, he agreed immediately (“I love Baller,” he said). He completed this image in between attending anti-racism protests outside his office in Manhattan.

 
 

ESSAYGUNNAR KLACK

THE NON-ARCHITECTS' ARCHITECT

It’s hard to be a rebel and an architect at the same time – the identities contradict each other substantially. A rebel wants to shatter norms and traditions, and can’t be constrained by rules. Sometimes, rebels are even destructive. Architects, however, often yearn to provide something stable and useful. There are the rules for joining and assembling elements, for structuring space, for what is a “proper” construction, proportion and of course: good taste.

The architecture of Hinrich, Inken and later Doris Baller undermines conventions on a fundamental level by breaking the long-standing and unwritten architectural rules of taste, usefulness and durability. It challenges the general assumption of what is considered good and proper architecture. You don’t have to study art history to recognize a Baller design. Their buildings are decidedly less subtle, tasteful, restrained or sensible than other architecture. Among architects, they are considered the antithesis of proper architecture: this is how one should not do it. Berlin’s highbrow architects react to Baller buildings with almost universal disdain, yet they are popular with those outside the profession. This dynamic alone is a huge and meaningful achievement.

ORGANIC BRUTALISM

Even though there are some Baller buildings outside of Berlin, it’s something that’s specific to the Hauptstadt. Baller style has become a piece of Berlin’s architectural vernacular. In particular, the prominent buildings at Winterfeldtplatz are widely known. The early works, from the 1970s and most of the 1980s, were designed by the husband and wife duo of Inken and Hinrich Baller. But the pair separated, and in 1989 he married Doris Piroth – now Doris Baller – who became his new work partner. Their combined œuvre spans three distinct phases of architectural creation: the “organic Brutalism” of the 1970s, the “era of the dancing houses” in the 1980s and the “full-on ornamental” style from the 1990s onwards.

The Ballers’ architectural practice began in the late 1960s, when Modernism began to diverge and a new generation of architects began to criticize functionalism. At that time, Baller was a teaching assistant to the architect Bernhard Hermkes, whose students and assistants often ended up becoming important planners in Berlin. Yet they all developed very different architectural expressions. Just take the famous “Bierpinsel” in the Steglitz neighborhood and the Congress Centrum ICC, which were both designed by Ralf Schüler and Ursulina Schüler-Witte – also students of Hermkes’ – and protagonists of a style that was much more pop- and tech-inspired than the Ballers’.

Throughout the 1970s, Hinrich and Inken Baller combined Brutalism with rather typical elements of postwar organic architecture. They arranged floor plans along curvy flowing lines and shaped cantilevered balconies with dynamic angles and rounded edges. A handful of residential blocks like this in Berlin’s West were realized. The styling is dynamic and organic, but fits well inside the architectural mainstream of that time. For example, the apartment block on Lietzenburger Straße in Charlottenburg (1977/78) is a highlight of Berlin’s 1970s residential architecture. The building bends back from the street, taking organic references to the next level. Rounded balconies made from fair-faced concrete curve upwards like leaves on a plant. Inken and Hinrich Baller went from chunky Brutalism to a lightweight and biomorphic concrete fantasy-Futurism. Besides realizing new construction projects, the Baller architects were also tasked with remodelling some prominent existing structures, like Bruno Taut’s residential block on Kottbusser Damm in Kreuzberg.

ANTITHETICAL ARCHITECTURE

Over the course of the 1980s, the Ballers’ designs became more and more eclectic and eccentric – Inken and Hinrich Baller developed a very distinctive and unique style of decorative and flamboyant shapes. Prime examples for this era are the mixed-use building on the corner of Hauptstraße and Pohlstraße in Schöneberg and the large project on Kreuzberg’s Fraenkelufer. Both structures were built between 1982 and 1985. Putting the houses at Fraenkelufer on tilted and sculpted columns evoked a sense of movement and dance, referencing Gaudí’s art nouveau architecture from Barcelona. The Ballers’ dancing houses of the 1980s feature modernized versions of classical architectural elements like turrets, pilasters, arched dormers and bay windows. Balconies and floor plans resemble patterns of tree leaves and the buildings’ facades exhibit a multitude of different curves and angles.

It would be a stretch to call their architecture historicist, but their buildings appeal to a nostalgia for an unspecified time when architecture was less rational and geometric, but more exuberant and decorative. The Ballers were beginning to abandon architecture’s fundamental paradigms – not only aesthetically, but also in regard to usefulness and durability. They found joy in the playful perversion of construction principles. Despite their fanciful Retrofuturism, Inken and Hinrich Baller stuck to some traditionally modern ideals like structural lightness and exposed concrete surfaces.

Hinrich Baller’s style changed as his partnership did. He married Doris in 1989, and together they began a new chapter of architecture (Inken went on to design and teach architecture separately). Since then, Baller buildings have doubled down on ornamentation. The houses themselves have become less dynamic, but their facades have grown ever more intricate in their metalwork. This is clearly apparent at the Baller buildings on Winterfeldtplatz (editor’s note: see our Q&A with Alexa Karolinski for more) and the residential block in Wilmersdorf. Built between 1998 and 2004, this large Preußenpark project is as flamboyant as most other Baller constructions. But the flamboyance is strongest in the facade and other surface details. Hinrich and Doris Baller used ornamental organic patterns crafted from undulating thin metal rods to create railings, balustrades and fences – each of them painted in a light teal colour. This was the new trademark of the Baller brand.

Looking back with a few years’ perspective, it seems that the greatest achievement of Baller architecture is how antithetical it is towards so many facets of the architectural value system. And even more so as we look forward: It’s clear that future architecture historians will swoon over the Ballers’ designs – a true Berlin idiosyncrasy.

Architect Gunnar Klack is a regular contributor to Arch+ and one of the organizers behind the petition to save Berlin’s Mäusebunker. When not writing or protecting Berlin’s Postmodern landmarks, Klack zig-zags across town to photograph all the architectural gems the untrained eyes might miss.

 
 

Full DisClothesureTom Blesch & Tim Heyduck

FIRST DAY OF ICONOCLASS

The Spreewald-Grundschule sits at the intersection of two neighborhoods with the Modernist Pallasseum estate on one side and the historic St. Matthias church on the other. This location encapsulates the inequality in Berlin’s postwar housing situation, where lower-income families are crammed into public housing blocks while those who can afford to live comfortably breeze around their Altbau apartments. The school is smack in the middle: a place for the two groups to meet, and the Baller-designed gym with its green terraces, steel bridge and an all-out joyful vibe is the perfect backdrop for this. In our exclusive shoot in and around the gym, photographer Tom Blesch and stylist Tim Heyduck put the Ballers’ free-form architecture to the test.

Look #1 dress: Vivienne Westwood (via Zalando), pants: MCM, gloves: Roeckl; Look #2 dress: Tatjana Haupt, glasses: Ace & Tate, stockings and shoes: stylist’s own; Look #3 top: Lou de Betoly, sleeves: Lottosch; LOOK #4 dress: Mia Alvizuri-Sommerfeld & Tim Süssbauer, pants: Lou de Betoly; Look #5 top: Soup Archive, skirt: Lou de Betoly, stockings: Falke, bag: Telfar; Look #6 turtleneck: American Vintage, top: Lottosch, skirt: Lou de Betoly, gloves: Roeckl, boots and necklace: stylist’s own

Photographer: Tom Blesch; Fashion: Tim Heyduck; Makeup: Janina Zais; Hair: Susanna Jonas; Styling assistant: Manfred Elias Knorr; Model: Yenni Schwan via SMC Model Management; Special thanks: Nana Salzmann

 

REVIEWDIAGNOSE

THE 1968 EXHIBITION THAT RETHOUGHT PUBLIC HOUSING

While 1968 was a year of student protests in West Berlin as much as elsewhere in the Western world, the vibe at the architecture department of Berlin’s Technische Universität wasn’t as tumultuous. Stick-in-the-mud Nazi leftovers might have been holding on at many other faculties, at TU the department was led by Bernhard Hermkes, a liberal who believed in dialogue and not demagogy. He was equally generous with directing funding to student initiatives, such as the landmark exhibition Diagnose, the organizers of which called themselves Aktion 507, the three digits designating the TU architects’ meeting room.

Hinrich Baller, who had already graduated from the TU, was still at the department as Hermkes’ assistant and became one of the prominent figures of Diagnose, which examined the rebuilding of the city in the 1960s. In this period, Berlin, still heavily scarred from the bombings and the Battle of Berlin in World War II, had needed to accommodate its once-again growing population. In the process, it sometimes allowed modernist architects’ grand visions to flatten more historic buildings than the Allied bombs had previously. The main impetus of Diagnose was to question the underlying ideas and policies that informed those public housing initiatives.

GRASSROOTS VS CONCRETE

The newly-built Märkisches Viertel on the northwestern edge of Berlin was a case in point – a typical social housing project of the time, it had 17,000 units for 50,000 inhabitants and no community or social amenities. In considering the project, TU activists focused on the architects’ obliviousness to the actual needs and desires of the quarter’s residents: “We were eager to find out how they wanted live instead of telling them how they should live,” Baller said in 2015, when interviewed about the exhibition that fast-tracked his ideas. “The residents’ critique was devastating. We made it a point to have their voices pop up at different stages of the event – whether they were live or recorded.”

This grassroots approach was completely new at the time – even masters of Modernist architecture like Le Corbusier had never bothered to actually learn about the common resident’s experience. But it was received well, with Bauhaus legends like Walter Gropius attending and engaging in audience discussions. Unsurprisingly, Diagnose generated substantial response from the mainstream media as well.

The show’s legacy can be traced through the careers of TU’s architecture graduates from that time. Many went on to leave their mark on the city much like Baller, yet Diagnose also did its part to shock the old guard at West Berlin’s building authority and the state-owned building cooperatives. For years, the activists of Aktion 507 weren’t welcome in their offices. But these ideas eventually helped to reinstate a much more human-focused architecture for which the early 20th-century architects had laid the groundwork. The Diagnose approach reinvigorated the “leftist” concept of designing homes for the people by simply making them work for people’s lives – as opposed to maximizing an investor’s profit.

 

QUOTE UNQUOTEJOSIE THADDEUS-JOHNS

"THERE IS LIGHT
IN EVERY SINGLE ROOM"

In the recent Netflix limited TV series Unorthodox, the young Esty Shapiro flees the closeted world of an Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg, and arrives in a free, open Berlin where, it seems to her, so much more is possible. The first scene in her adoptive city depicts the diminutive escapee turning up at her estranged mother’s house. The block’s curved, jutting balconies and rising metal spears seem to encapsulate the light simplicity of her new life. The building is Hinrich and Doris Baller’s Winterfeldtplatz complex, built in 1999, and it plays a pivotal role in the plot.

Filmmaker Alexa Karolinski, who is a long-time collaborator with fashion brand Eckhaus Latta and showed her first documentary at the Berlin Film Festival, created the critically-acclaimed series along with Anna Winger. No News News contributing editor Josie Thaddeus-Johns spoke to the native Berliner about what the Ballers’ style represents for Unorthodox, and what Hinrich Baller means to her personally.

What were the elements of Berlin as a city you wanted to capture in Unorthodox?

It started with what we didn’t want. We wanted to move away from the typical heavy Gründerzeit architecture and the Plattenbau high rises, that we’ve seen so much in film and TV in the last 20 years. I’m from former West Berlin, so I grew up around Baller architecture. I really love the aesthetic of the West: Wilmersdorf, Charlottenburg and Schöneberg.

How does that architecture translate into the series?

The idea is to show Berlin in Esty’s romanticized view – we tried to think of the architecture to encapsulate that feeling of Berlin in the summer: the lakes and the rivers and the drinking outside. The West Berlin architecture with its pastels and that feeling of light, air and breath was perfect for that. I actually got to meet Baller a couple of years ago. I was interested in making a video artist portrait of him, when I was still doing a lot of online videos. I got to go to his apartment on Lietzensee, further west, which he built himself – this kind of crazy penthouse duplex. He’s a nice guy!

How did this fit in with the other half of the plot, which was shot in New York?

We wanted to think of a stark contrast to the heavy interiors and furniture in those Williamsburg apartments. That’s kind of the aesthetic at least among some of the older Satmar Jews – it’s bringing the idea of an older Europe to Williamsburg.

What is it about the Ballers’ architecture and these flats in particular that speaks to you?

It’s just completely stunning, the way he thought of maximizing use of space. I was really astonished by the stairwells and looking down the eye of the staircase. That experience in a Baller building is like no other. I’m really happy we got to shoot a scene where Yanky walks up the stairs and you get to see that.

Which other parts of the series highlight the Ballers’ architecture?

There’s the bit in episode four where she wakes up before her audition, and is on that balcony, where she can look into her mom’s bedroom. And there’s that one scene in episode three where Moishe breaks into the apartment and goes from room to room. I feel like it’s in that kind of sequence that you can see how well the different rooms really flow into each other and how there’s light in every single room.

 
 

FURTHER READINGEWA EFFIOM

FRACTURED VITALISM IN BRICKS AND MORTAR
© Bettina Komenda

Until the modern era, architectural styles obtained their rhetorical power from the interplay between the natural and the fabricated. But what happens when the building becomes nature before our very eyes, the metaphors metamorphic?

This hypothetical becomes reality in Vitalism, which believes that the origin of life is dependent on forces that don’t necessarily adhere to logic. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this philosophy is now discredited in every scientific discipline – apart from architecture, that is. In her essay ‘The Modern Subject, a Dead Form Living: Notes on the Aesthetics of (a Fractured) Vitalism’ theorist Jenny Nachtigall offers her notes on this spiritual philosophy and discusses what she sees as a “fractured” Vitalism. She focuses on its particular relevance in Germany, where a delayed industrialization failed to reshuffle the Prussian social hierarchy and led to the persistence of beliefs in mysticism, the occult and conspiracy. By her account, this allowed Vitalism to gain a foothold through the likes of Henri Bergson, Carl Einstein and, perhaps most notably, Ernst Bloch, whose monumental book Principle of Hope changed the direction of utopian thought.

The Ballers’ work is Fractured Vitalism in bricks and mortar. They craft an alternative rhetoric by yielding to the genius of nature and hence the Vitalists within us all.

Bloch’s theory called for Vitalism to be represented in reality, rather than just thought. For him, the theory was the crucial convergence of the individual and the collective, the organic and constructed, with the ornament as its medium. Similarly, Einstein saw ornamentation as detached from the organic, since it never represents recognizable species, creating a rupture. Hence the break in Nachtigall’s “Fractured Vitalism”.

Nachtigall shows the importance of Vitalism beyond the visual. After all, Vitalism implies creative agency: a combination of the ability and desire to rebel against preconceived norms. And the Ballers thrive on this. The Ballers’ work is Fractured Vitalism in bricks and mortar. They craft an alternative rhetoric by yielding to the genius of nature and hence the Vitalists within us all. Out of sync with the discipline of capitalism, they propose a concrete utopia that would make Bloch proud, while informing our imaginations even today.

Jenny Nachtigall’s essay is published as part of "Postapocalyptic Self-Reflection" (Westphalie), an anthology for the post-apocalyptic world. Ewa Effiom is a Belgo-Nigerian architect and writer based in London who during lockdown has become “a living meme that shamelessly alternates between Keith Floyd and Wim Hof.”

 

ProcurementBALLER STYLE

DECODING THE MASTER OF ORNAMENTATION

BMW S 1000 RR

While usually rather humble, Baller once quipped: “In my day, every taxi driver in Berlin used to know me.” This was surely true but they didn’t recognize him for his reputation as an “architect for the people” alone, since Hinrich Baller never learned how to drive a car. Instead, he owns a BMW S 1000 RR which he uses to get around the city when he doesn’t need a set of chauffeured wheels. We also have it on good authority that he takes his motorbike with him on vacation – with his wife right behind him on the pillion, plus a custom-fitted rack, so that he can bring extra wine bottles from his trips.

Knotted Shirt

Much like his architecture, Baller’s sartorial choices go against the grain of all those purists in their black turtlenecks. Sure, the vibe is pretty much hippie playboy, but then again, there aren’t that many octogenarians who can show off a tanned chest like that. For all those architecture students aiming to piss off their formalist professors, we suggest this knotted shirt from Helmut Lang’s SS20 collection. The more we think about it, the more it makes sense: A knot, tangled and careless, really sums up Baller’s freewheeling approach to architecture.

Loop Chair

Various dispatches from the Baller residence and close screenings of all the available footage have brought to light an impressive array of different chairs by the greats of 20th-century design: there are various Eames models, a Butterfly chair as well as Harry Bertoia and Eero Aarnio numbers. Our favorite, though, is the Loop chair – it just resonates so well with the concrete aspects of the Ballers’ biomorphic fantasy-Futurism. Created by Willy Guhl, the Loop chair was designed for the beach but does an equally good job in lofty maisonette apartments.

Functional Art

Mint metal, doormat-like carpeting and a generous helping of mid-’90s West Berlin vibes – it takes a lot to get Doris and Hinrich Baller’s interior style right. Those looking to hack their way to Baller-sphere will love the Functional Art Gallery in the German capital’s Tiergarten district. Head there to snap up this book shelf by design duo OrtaMiklos or Théophile Blandet’s aluminum chandelier and you’ll instantly have all the off-kilter craziness that was sadly missing from your mid-century teak overload.

Eccentric Glasses

At almost two meters tall, Hinrich Baller cuts a dashing figure. Add to that his white mane, open shirt and Louis Vuitton shoes and – voilà – you’ll have what one might call “a look.” But what makes Baller really stand out are his glasses. Our guess (we weren’t able to confirm) is late 1980s Alpina or Carrera, possibly even custom made. Just so damn real. If you’re feeling equally inspired to level up your eccentricity, consider the “Danchu” glasses from Korean brand Gentle Monster. They’re brutal, fussy but also weirdly straightforward.

 

Every issue of No News News features a dedicated book plate. These ex libris, as they are also called, are commissioned works of art traditionally used to indicate ownership of one’s books. Hinrich Baller doesn’t use an ex libris himself, instead we chose this beautiful specimen to illustrate the architect’s love for fractured facades:

 

EXLIBRIS.BERLIN

Editor: Hans Bussert (V.i.S.d.P.)
Art Director: Enver Hadzijaj
Contributing Editor: Josie Thaddeus-Johns
Proofreader: Redfern Jon Barrett
Web Development: Bruno Meilick

Image credits: Magnus Pettersson, Felix Burrichter,
Tom Blesch, Bettina Komenda

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