One year ago, I was having a coffee at one of the posh hotels around Ku'damm and noticed the bad looking ambiance of a workshop, with the dust and garbage associated. Not exactly the kind of view you love to enjoy for your breakfast at a very expensive hotel. As I asked what is going on, I was told that a shopping area will be built soon, without too many information about what kind of shops and the audience expected.
But now, the construction is finally ready and in one of the first days after the opening, I joined the big masses of curious tourists and retired persons, but also some local youngsters. exploring the new life within the concrete walls of Bikini.
The complex is situated in a very tourist area, in the immediate neighbourhood of the Zoo - whose jumping monkey can be admired from various vantage points inside the shop or from the garden terrace - and of the holy monster of shopping in West Berlin - KaDeWe. With many of the shops still closed at the time, the visitors preferred to simply take a seat near the window and watch the animals when they were not wandering around curious to see what is going on.
Berliners and Germans in general it seems, are very much not sympathetic to the idea of shopping malls. Bikini is different: it is a concept mall, which reunites various boutiques - hosted in simple concrete ugly boxes - offering limited editions of clothes or shoes or design furniture.
Besides the shopping as such, that covers various styles - my biggest happy news is that I can find Nara Camicie from where I haven't shop for years - there are also ice parlours, hair stylists, a Kusmir Tea, a Cyber Port shop and an Audi showroom. And there is a Kaiser supermarket too.
As for the style and design, I haven't been impressed at all by this proletarian looking version of the KaDeWe. Sorry for thinking over and over again about this shop, but for me, this is as much the standard of high-class shopping in Berlin as it is Harrods for the Brits. Regardless how poor or sophisticated you would like to be, the standard will always remind how far - or close - you are from the perfect shopping success.
Besides the little Army container-like boxes, Bikini also has big spaces used as exhibition spaces. One of them will display till June a photography exhibition Artists for Revival. Among the exhibitors are Marc Brandenburg and Sarah Morris, the idea being to outline hidden realities of the overall normal life snapshots. Another space, not yet assigned a clear destination, was used to display short movies about the building process of the shopping mall and the history of the area where it is situated.
I went to the next floor having a perspective look over the space. It seems that I am in a kind of factory of modern times.
One of the ideas that I love the most was the pop-up stores, where various designers are presenting their limited editions. This concept makes a difference with the usual big malls, where you will always find what is supposed to find: regular collections and common products, sometimes at high prices, all of them unique creations. As there are many Berliners with enough money and sophisticated enough to prefer being dressed in their personal style, I bet there will be enough customers for such collections.
Among many design and small bookstores, I found a little corner with travel books and the latest editions of my favourite ever publication: Monocle. Most probably I will come back soon to explore more books and for travel inspiration.
When you have enough of indoors, the roof terrace is the solution to take some fresh air. Unless it rains, as it happened when I went there. For the sunnier days, there are colourful tables and chairs and another view of the monkeys from the Zoo. One of the things that I always dislike about many usual malls I visited in Europe and in the Middle East was the idea practised by many teenagers and 20s of spending full days around hanging and networking or even dating. Bikini has a slight potential to go in the same direction one day, but the difference will be that it can bring together people sharing the same fantastic and outstanding ideas.
After all, everything it's a matter of perspective.