I’ve lived in Berlin over 5 years, and as The Antiques Diva®, when I moved here I thought: brats and beer, yes. Antiques? no! But I’m here to tell you: When it comes to antiques, Berlin is probably Europe’s best-kept secret. Though one of the hottest spots on the map for tourists, antique sellers forget Berlin exists when it comes to stocking their stores, and prefer instead to shop with the masses in France, England and Sweden. I’ve built my Germany little black book of secret antiques sources, and I can’t wait to share a few of them with you!
With a fast-growing number of antique and modern furniture shops and more flea markets than any other city in Europe, it’s time to put the artsy German capital on the map for international buyers seeking antiques and vintage!
- If you’re looking for pieces not found in every shop and around every corner – Germany is for you.
- Want mid-century modern – but don’t want to pay Danish or Italian prices? Double Check. Again Berlin is the answer.
Our Berlin, Germany, antiques tours focus on the plethora of antique and modern furniture shops and markets. The fact that Berlin offers the lowest cost of living in Western Europe means that bargains abound. You’ll discover hidden warehouses in unique locations where you might end up with filling up a container of your purchases.
To help you discover the best antiques and vintage in Germany – and at the best prices – I’ve recruited two local antiques experts as Germany Antiques Diva Guides. While living in Berlin I lost my 1st apartment due to a fire from an unwatched candle in a neighbor’s apartment. I had to scour Berlin for the best pieces – at the best prices – to furnish my apartment, I met and worked with Felix and Philip. With their expertise and connections, The Antiques Diva is excited to present our newest Berlin, Germany antiques tour!
One of my favorite recent purchases is from Felix’s Berlin shop, Felix Bachmann Antiquitäten. Instead of artwork, in my home office I have a pair of 1960’s gold ceiling tiles which were salvaged from the ballroom of the Russian Embassy in Berlin, that Felix also installed for me!
Felix Bachman has been working in furniture restoration and trade for 15 years. In 2011 he founded his own company in Berlin, Felix Bachman, specializing in antiques and mid-century modern furnishings, as well as pieces of his own design. His experience in dealing with forms, colors and textures benefits his furniture restoration and creating his own works of art. He attended West Dean College/Sussex University in Chichester, England; studying Conservation – Restoration of Furniture.
Philip Seiler loves, collects and sells beautiful furniture, lamps and objects of the 20th century. The name is part of the program. Many pieces are unique, hand selected and refurbished with passion. In May 2016 owner Philip Seiler opened his showroom in Berlin, Monsieur Unique. The focus lies on furniture from the timeless mid-century era and the rustic industrial design era. Monsieur Uniques warehouse is located in a former factory building in Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg.
Introducing: Where The Wild Things Are – Berlin Modern Furniture Tour
Available Saturday and Sunday
Full Day Tour 10am to 6pm
Berlin is known as the wild party capital of Europe. But there are a lot more wild things to discover when it comes to modern furniture, lamps and objects from the 20th century and earlier. With more than 50 warehouses and boutiques, the fast-growing artsy capital of Germany offers a huge variety and one of the lowest price points in Europe, especially for mid-century and industrial furniture. A lot of these warehouses and boutiques are not easy to find, hidden in the backyard of Berlins typical old buildings or outside the city borders. Our Where The Wild Things Are – Berlin Modern Furniture Tour will take you there. Shop in the former locations of a huge futuristic rock club, an old mill and buy where others don’t buy. This Antiques Diva & Co Germany Antiques Tour will be personalized by our Guides, who will choose the shops which suit your shopping desires and negotiate and translate on your behalf. We also liaise you with a shipper to get your purchases home. After a long day, you can complete this unique shopping experience with a dinner and one or two drinks in one of Berlins many restaurants and bars if you wish.
Are you ready to discover Europe’s best-kept secret and visit our Germany sources for antique, vintage and mid-century modern furniture and accessories?
Toma – The Antiques Diva
Antiques Meet Modern
When asked what I personally collect – my answer is always first and foremost “People.” In my line of work, I am constantly meeting fascinating people from all over the world. While in Venice last year at Saloniste’s , I fell in love with both the artwork and personality of Michaela Zimmer! She is a remarkable artist who lives and works in Berlin, Germany, and whose work is exhibited around the world. People are often shocked to discover that as The Antiques Diva I’m obsessed with contemporary art. But as in love as well as decorating… opposites attract. My personal decorating style is a juxtaposition of antiques meet modern.
I am over the moon to have contemporary paintings by artist Michaela Zimmer in our Antiques Diva headquarters (which happens to be in my personal home).
A friend of mine refers to me as “his whirlwind.” Anyone who knows me, knows I am always on the move. And perhaps that’s what attracted me to Michaela’s work. It moves. It flows. It dances with light and motion. Michaela Zimmer rethinks the idea of the abstract painting. She filters the fundaments of abstraction through the syntax of performance. With a background in dance and photography, it’s no wonder movement is such an important part of her process— incorporating the idea of physical movement (dance) and the concept of a still moment frozen in time (photography). When she paints, she surrounds herself with canvases and literally dances as she creates her art. Looking at a series of her work, you can see the movement as it dances from canvas to canvas.
Relationship Between Antiques and Contemporary Art
When discussing the relationship between antiques and contemporary art, Michaela sees it as revolving around time and space. One look at her canvases shows that she places a focus on movement. She explains, “What is specific about these canvases, characterized by a virtually incorporeal, floating chromatic space, is the fourth dimension inscribed within them; time manifested as traces of the performative between the multi-stratified, fragmented layers.” It’s this movement that enters into a dialogue with antiques.
Interior Photography: Susanne Ollmann http://www.ollmannfoto.com
all artwork courtesy of the artist and FOLD, London http://www.foldgallery.com/
Relative to movement, Michaela says, “It is interesting that the word ‘speed’ always evokes the notion of ‘fast speed’ first. Focusing on both, fast and slow motion, and situations where they blend into each other, has always been an aspect of my work. Mind you, even when a line appears to be ‘fast’, this might have resulted from a slow movement which accelerated from a certain intensity that wasn’t fast at all.”
Antiques often reveal traces of the human hand which played a part in creating them, and the sculptural element of Michaela Zimmer’s paintings reflect that as well. Details get blurred and stay hidden behind semi-transparent PE film. The dichotomy of abstraction and corporeality disappears in the merging of image and object – illusionary space and material. Combining contemporary paintings with an antique environment is combining both visual experiences.
Combining Contemporary Paintings with an Antique Environment
There are different approaches in Michaela Zimmer’s paintings. The lines that originate from a concentrated single movement are mostly applied to white canvas that is only primed. They take a long time in their (mainly physical) preparation, but are then executed quickly. Even with the best preparation, a lot of them end up unresolved and get destroyed, since they can’t be corrected.” The process of creating a work can take quite some time. The paintings are based on numerous layers of paint, which are applied and then often taken away, again and again. This process is time-consuming and very difficult to control since the aim is not a spectacular composition, but a rather quiet one that unfolds only slowly. As Michaela explains, “A similar ‘gradualness in the investigation process’ is also required from the viewer, if he or she is to be rewarded.”
In my own home, it’s time that forms the interaction with other objects around the paintings in the room. The present meets the past in my home in Berlin – the historic building is a brewery dating from the early 1800’s – that has been converted into modern loft space for working and living. Michaela’s contemporary art visually bring the space to the 21st century but the 19th C building is grounded with 18th Century antiques.
While I was delighted to share with you a glimpse into my own home office so you could see how art interacts in private spaces – I want also to tell you about an opportunity to visit a gallery in England for a special Exhibition of Michaela’s work.
exhibition 29 October 2016 till 26 February 2017
Curated by The Lowry in collaboration with Rambert, the exhibition will feature work by four international artists and explore the synergies between contemporary visual art and dance. Artists featuring in Perpetual Movement include Turner Prize nominee, Goshka Macuga, Leila Johnston and Michaela Zimmer, and the exhibition will feature specially commissioned works alongside key pieces from Rambert’s archive that inspired them.
Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 60px; line-height: 50px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>My love for antiques got me into this business and being surrounded by like-minded people and sharing this passion with clients, vendors and colleagues is part of what makes my job such a joy. When I first met Chiara Zanella and Orseola Barozzi Rizzo – who later became our Antiques Diva Venice Antiquing Guides – they confided, “We want to create a different concept of selling antiques and of antiquing in general; we’d like to bring antiques to a younger target of collectors. We believe people are beginning to reflect more on what they will buy for their home décor. We all need more personal spaces, reflecting our personalities and taste.”
These two ladies who not only lead our Venetian and Veneto antique buying tours also co-own O & C Antiques. They are filled with youth and vigor and the kind of energy that makes one think they could singlehandedly stop Venice from sinking. Explaining to me about their store, they said, “The world today is so connected on the internet. It sometimes feels people have stopped living real life in lieu of an online life. We think the future of antiques is in Salons – real life meetings of the minds.”
At the mention of the word “Salon” my mind immediately races to the salons hosted by Ayn Rand in New York in the 1950’s but I am quickly reminded the would-be Americans such as Rand weren’t the ones who invented the concept. Orseola explains, “The Salon is an Italian invention from 16th century Italy when circles formed in the smaller courts with patronesses such as Isabella d’Este or Elisabetta Gonzaga. Later the movement moved onto 18th century France with some of the last Salons hosted in the 20th century by Marie-Laure de Noailles with guests such as Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dali.”
Chiara continues, “Women were always the center of the life in the Salon and they carried a very important role as regulators. They could select their guests and decide about the subjects of their meetings. Those subjects could be social, literary, or political. They also had the role as mediator by directing the discussion. They were called Salonnières.”
Orseola cries…. “We’re bringing back the Salon. We host mobile events in our homes. While we’re in Venice this could be held in any city of the world – gatherings in private spaces with sellers, artists and designers combining discussion with antiques, contemporary art and vintage furniture.” During these events Salonieres educate their guests about cultural topics, all the while enjoying antiques, art, music and scintillating conversation meant to enhance the participants’ taste and increase their knowledge. These gatherings consciously followed Horace’s definition of the aims of poetry, “either to please or to educate” (“aug delectare aug prodesse set”).
And you, dear diva readers, are invited to the first of their salons….. Chiara and Orseola have teamed up with their friend Jens Soneryd to organize the first of their Salon style evenings on October 31 in Berlin, Germany.
The theme of this inaugural Salon is “DRAMA”— a word which relates to any aesthetic experience—that through visual art, poetry, music and literature translate intuitions into beauty. The goal is to have these Salon evenings in several different cities throughout the world, almost as an international movable Salon!
The evening will be more the launch of a different way to meet like minded people, giving the chance to make a network in several different cities, between interior designers, antique dealers, designers, artists and collectors. In the frame of a private space that for the occasion, will be used as the visual platform where people can have the experience of distinct elements combined together in the same “exhibition” concept. The meaning of this gathering is also to provide collectors with a different way to look at art, design and antiques, and to make an ideal background for discussion for all guests.
For that, the hostesses have selected artworks and photography (by artists based in Berlin, NYC and Warsaw), some objects from a contemporary design store in Berlin, some pieces of O&C Antiques inventory and guests will be delighted by an Opera singer and nice Italian wine.
The entrance to this exciting evening is free (although a donation is encouraged). If you’d like more information on the Salon concept, email us at to:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com. Whether you’re interested in attending the inaugural Salon or if you wish to come to or host a future Salon, we’d love to hear from you!
The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
Antiques Diva Client Stacey T is guest blogging today, telling about her favorite purchase on an Antiques Diva Tour!
“I love to wrap myself in the most luxurious vintage fur coat The Antiques Diva helped me buy during a recent shopping expedition to Berlin, Germany. I had so much enjoyed shopping with The Antiques Diva previously in Paris, The Netherlands and Belgium that I quickly booked an outing with her when a girlfriend and I had a recent trip to Europe.
The Antiques Diva recommended that I come to Berlin since I was in the market for a full length mink coat, so we arranged transportation and headed there. Talk about being worth the trip! The Antiques Diva took me and my friend shopping at an outdoor flea market Saturday morning. After she gave us a quick market once-over (amazing variety of antiques!), she suggested that we take a sausage and sauerkraut snack break (delicious sustenance) before diving into the fur. And dive we did! There must have been over a thousand different vintage coats available – full length mink, short wraps, Russian hats, fluffy jackets. The abundance was amazing (and overwhelming!)
The Antiques Diva helped me focus and pick out coats, held my things while I tried them on, offered comments on style, use and price, and was a goddess of patience since I wanted to try on everything I touched. Fifty coats later, I emerged with a gorgeous full length dark brown mink and a mink wrap. Due to her mad negotiation skills and connection with the shopkeeper, The Antiques Diva worked the price down to a stunningly low 500 euros for both pieces. I had planned to spend double that on one, so it was like I got a discount AND a gift with purchase!”
Stay warm this winter!
The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
Today we’ve got a Guest Blog from Antiques Diva Tour Guide Lucretia who typically leads tours in Holland and Belgium, but while I was away in the USA for a month this summer she was actually house sitting in my home in Berlin. Today she’s writing to you sharing with you some of her favorite places to tour in Berlin!
So ta ta from me, and Guten Tag from Guest Blogger Lucretia
“As an Antiques Diva tour guide, I am myself, of course, fond of antiques. Nowadays, it is considered a mark of good taste to fill your house with antique furniture and decorations. But that hasn’t always been the case. In fact, it is a fairly recent phenomenon, probably not much older than the 20th century.
This became very clear to me as I visited all the castles and palaces in Berlin and Potsdam over my summer vacation visiting Berlin. When you were very wealthy in the 17th and 18th century, you would build your own palace and decorate it following the latest fashion, dictated by Paris, or rather by the court at Versailles. And, as a result, these kings and princes of Prussia have left us a collection of amazing buildings, which is a showcase of all the consecutive styles .
For example, king Frederick the Great inherited a baroque palace in Berlin, called Charlottenburg, from his grandparents. It was barely 40 years old, but he thought it was old-fashioned. He simply added a new wing for himself and his guests, and decorated it in the very modern rococo, or Louis XV, style. All the furniture was made by hand by local ebenistes, who copied French pieces that were either a gift from France or smuggled in by diplomats. Costly silks from Lyon for the walls, and as upholstery for the chairs, were eventually also imitated by Berlin weavers. It was all very dashing and daring, never before seen. For decoration, Frederick used porcelain vases made in his own brand-new factory in Berlin, KPM, where all the extensive dinner services were also created for his lavish feasts.
Rococo ballroom in the New Wing of Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin (1740)
We tend not to think about it any more when we use the term “antiques”, which in fact means “relics of Antiquity”. That is exactly what those kings collected as antiques: busts of ancient Greeks and of Roman emperors, incised gems, and coins. For us, “antiques” means: objects of at least a hundred years old. Funny, isn’t it?
Detail of the Jasper Hall (1771) in the “New Chambers” in Sansouci Park, Potsdam, with ancient busts on consoles along the walls
How did this happen? It took a while, I suppose, in particular during the 19th century, and the growing wealth and self-confidence of the bourgeois society plays an important role in it. Around 1830, more or less, after the Napoleonic era, came Romanticism, which rediscovered the charm of the Middle Ages.
Clocks were created in the “troubadour style” in Paris, neo-gothic furniture was suddenly the “dernier cri”. A whole series of nostalgic styles followed: neo-Louis XIV and neo-rococo ( Napoleon III), then neo-empire at the end of the 19th century. In England we know this period as Victorian. For the first time, people wanted “old” furniture, of bygone centuries.
The first fakes actually began to appear on the market during this time period. As Judith Miller writes in her book Period Style : “Craftsmen sometimes complained that pieces had to be “stained to imitate old, and sold for old.” The profession of “antique dealer”, as we know it today, was born = and today when we buy these pieces from the turn of the 1800’s to 1900’s we call them in the STYLE of as opposed to PERIOD pieces.
In fact, today inquiring if a piece is a “period” vs “style” piece is one of the first questions clients want to know from vendors. Did the piece originate in the period it was originally famous or was it a reproduction from later times? Naturally period pieces are more valuable and have more pedigree however don’t necessarily knock a “in the style of” piece – these can still be true antiques – more than 100 years old. Many “in the style of” pieces are popular budget alternative for decorators wanting to buy abroad.
Lucretia, Your Belgian and Dutch Diva
Dear Diva Readers,
top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 60px; line-height: 50px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>Recently a blog reader emailed asking where I lived. With my job leading antique buying tours all over Europe I’m on the road 2 or 3 weeks a month. When I’m not traveling for work doing la diva loca I’m home sweet home in Berlin, Germany.
This past weekend Saturday was filled with errands as we worked on buying some essentials for our new home. While I have an antique shipment from Sweden, Belgium and England due in the coming month (having already picked up pieces in Italy and France) to decorate our new home post fire, here in Berlin this weekend I focused on some modern design. (By the bye, in the coming months you can read more about these antique purchases in my on going series on decorating post fire in The Daily Basics).
My first stop on Saturday for decorating at home in Berlin? Stilwerk on the Kantstrasse in what was West Berlin not far from the Zoo. This large concept store focuses on international design in interior décor and furniture. After buying a new coffee table at Kartell and oohing over a few pieces at Roche Bobois, my husband and I meandered down the road checking out additional decor stores in the area.
With our stomachs rumbling it was time for lunch – fortunately just a few doors away across the road from Stilwerk is Paris Bar. While the restaurant is known for its steady stream of celebrities who frequent it, I go there to admire their art collection whilst eating a darn good entrecôte with fries!
After lunch we did pop down the road to get take-away cupcakes for later in the weekend before continuing on to the Farrow and Ball shop at #34. We were buying paint for the bedroom – and wanting to do a dark moody room we knew we needed top quality paint as dark rooms are not easy to do well.
Discovering that F&B in this neighborhood was out of the exact color of paint we were after – off black #75 – we loaded up the GPS with another Farrow & Ball, located in Dahlem (former American Sector) on the Altensteinstraße. And driving across town, we discovered this paint shop was tucked away in the Königlichen Gartenakademie nearby the Botanical Gardens. Founded as the “Royal Garden educational institution” in 1823, the aim of this historical place is to promote horticulture in Germany. While I’m not sure how a Farrow & Ball shop found its way to be located in one of the greenhouses, it was a lovely place buy paint amidst the butterflies and bumble bees fitting from flower to flower for sale.
Loaded up on paint, it was back into the center of town to check out the home goods on sale this June at KaDeWe. Hugo Boss, Ralph Lauren, Armani, bedding, etc is all on sale at KaDeWe. And while I still didn’t find the bedding I was after, I did manage to score a gorgeous jacket and some summer frocks.
After a hard day’s shopping my husband and I headed home with our car practically bulging with purchases. But there was one last errand to be made – our handyman had just build us a new closet in our home and we needed to buy hangers. Where does one go for hangers in Berlin? If not Ikea then Hoffner, an all–purpose furniture and household store. Having spent 60 Euro in hangers, we were back in the car all shopped out!
While Saturday in Berlin was devoted to errands to decorate our home post fire, Sunday was a little more fun! Lunch on the terrace (making the most of asparagus season in Germany) before heading to the Sony Center to watch the Great Gatsby! And we had kicked off the weekend with cava on the terrace, taking advantage of the gorgeous sunny weather!
All in all it was a wonderful weekend at home in Berlin! When the reader emailed asking where I lived I realized while I often write about my travels you don’t often get a glimpse into my home life. So many readers emailed saying how they’d enjoyed my dinner party post a few weeks ago that I thought perhaps I should share a little more of life back home in Berlin.
The Antiques Diva
Dear Diva Readers,
In Berlin this weekend September 1, 2012? Join me at the Antiekmeile on the Suarezstrasse from 12 noon to 8pm for a full on day of flea fun!!!
And save the date – October 13 in Berlin marks the date for the famous Nachtmarkt at Fehrbelliner Platz from 3pm to 10pm!!
The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 80px; line-height: 70px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>”Fancy meeting you here!” I exclaimed as I kissed my husband hello last night as he walked out of Berlin Tegel airport and into my arms. At last, we were in the same place at the same time! He was returning home from a business trip to his company chateau in France while I’d just whizzed in from taking a “to the trade” buyer to Belgium on an antiques shopping tour. I’m home for exactly 6 days before leaving again for Italy – this time helping an interior designer shop for antiques to furnish a 200 year old 6000 square foot Tuscan villa – and I wanted to make the most of every minute with my darling husband! After all, between his crazy travel schedule and mine meeting at our home town in Berlin has become a rarity!
As he loosened his tie throwing his briefcase in the backseat, I put my Audi in drive and said, “Not yet – I’m kidnapping you! We’ve got a date at the Hotel de Rome!” In confusion he lifted his brows looking back at the airport. “Not Rome as in Italy, Silly Boy” I chidded, “Rocco Forte’s 5 star extravaganza in Berlin at the Babelplatz!”
I hadn’t taken a room, but rather thought a cocktail date to catch up on life, love and other mysteries was in order. I love the romance of yesteryear sitting in a moody lounge with a pianist tickling the ivories as I sip slowly at a drink in a dark corner. My husband ordered the Horse Neck, me the Talihito… An American expat lounge singer strolled onto the small stage and began to croon lyrics lost in love in the 80’s and as my husband and I held hands and whispered sweet nothings I sighed, “There’s nothing like being in the same place at the same time…”
Next time you’re in Berlin I’d recommend popping over to the Bebel Bar at the Hotel de Rome! For more ideas on where to go for drinks in Berlin see Paul Sullivan of Slow Travel Berlin guide in the Guardian to the top-10-cocktail-bars-berlin” target=”_blank”>Best Cocktails in Berlin.
Until next time, cheers!
The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 100px; line-height: 90px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>While taking my morning walk today, criss-crossing from my home near Brandenburg Gate over to the Reichstag en route to the Tiergarten, I passed by my favorite pretzel vendor! Though I couldn’t interupt my workout for a snack I did actually stop to take a picture! The only thing that could be more Berlin than this Bicycle & Brezel combo would be if they were also selling beer and brats! Days like these I love Berlin!
The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 100px; line-height: 90px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>Earlier this week I was delighted to spend some time on the Suarezstrasse – Berlin’s antique street clustered with over 30 great antique shops and vintage stores. While Di Venter, the South African born-Berlin based designer and founder of “MadeByDi” and I strolled the street window shopping we were thrilled to discover Tony was “in the house” at his great vintage shop located at number 62. Tony is an international jetsetter and has one of my favorite shops in London – located at Alfie’s Antique Mall at 13 – 25 Church Street – but he shares his time jetting back and forth between chic locales.
His shops sell excellent vintage fashion, gorgeous dresses as practical for wearing today as they were in their heyday as well as vintage purses and jewelry. And psssttt… make sure to ask Tony about his own designs. Though I visit his shop every chance I get, I didn’t know until last week that Tony not only sells vintage jewelry but also designs jewelry as well. A charmer of a man, a visit to Tony’s shops in Berlin and London should be on every diva’s MUST SHOP list!
Until next time, let all your days be filled with fun vintage fashion!
The Antiques Diva®
PS. If you’re looking for a Father’s Day gift – consider Tony’s affable collection of cuff links. My husband is like a kid in the candy store when he see’s Tony’s glass display on vintage finds!