It is hard to believe that this wonderful trip is on the latter half of its time, but that doesn’t mean we have taken it easy. Today, I’ve clocked over 18,000 steps and 9 miles. But, when you are in a beautiful city meeting spectacular people, this is what is to be expected.
We stumbled into Martina Flor’s building after searching around for a moment. The entrance was inside of a Hof – which is like a center courtyard with buildings surrounding it found through a side street. We made our way up the stairs to press the illuminated doorbell. A large industrial door stood between us and this letter artist, it slid open slowly revealing a collection of hand drawn lettering products and the kitchen area in her creative space.
Martina greeted us with a smile from ear to ear, welcoming Claudia and the group like we had known each other for a lifetime. A small black brooch with silver metallic type, the word “shine” illustrated in her writing, acted as an element of contrast upon her cloudy gray blouse. This brooch was a reflection of Martina’s attitude towards design and just life in general – she had taken all of the people and situations she has encountered and turned them into something positive. “Sometimes it doesn’t matter where you are, but it’s the community that can help you a lot,” Martina said about headquartering in Berlin.
A big open area with large windows allowed the light to shine on the work she had laid upon the table for us to review. It seemed as if the sun was shining, just as Martina was, on the tracing paper and finished products that begged to be touched. She discussed her work with such humility and lightness, laughing as she told anecdotes about her work and process. It was obvious that she enjoyed the work she accomplished and sharing it with eager minds. As we left, not without purchasing some hand-lettered merch, she left us with a bit of advice.
“Not staying still is the best you can do. Move! If there is something not good here, you have to go change it.”
With inspiration filling our shoes, we made our way to We Make It, a Risograph studio. A risograph is like a scanner, printer, printing press, and screen print machine put together – now there are a little more nuances to how it works than that, but this is the simplest explanation. Andrea, who works in the Communication Design Fab Lab, picked our host’s brain about how the machine works and all the technical details that is really cool for designers.
Nowadays, the Riso is used typically for artist’s books and exclusive prints, since there are limited colors which have to be printed one at a time, but seem to be becoming more popular, especially within schools. Andrea even got to take a spin on the machine, showing us Riso Newbs how everything worked.
Afterwards, we headed toward the Buchstaben Museum, which focuses on the preservation and documentation of letters. They are the first museum in the world to collect letters from public places. It was located underneath the train tracks in a large warehouse looking space. Although the museum was in a quasi-state at the moment, it was still as fascinating as we had hoped.
Everywhere you turned letters sprawled the space, the glyphs were from old signage which had been used in public places. It was fascinating to browse this alphabet graveyard, especially as the signs became recognizable from the different logos and letterforms. The group quickly dispersed, with cameras in hand, twisting and turning in all angles just to create the perfect composition of the signs displayed before us. With memory cards full, it was time to say goodbye to the museum and head back to the hotel for the evening.