In July 2019, Singapore-born Brandon Schroder-Seah (@brandonjseah) – currently the global sales director of cult fashion label Kiko Kostadinov – moved to Germany after having lived in New York City for 10 years where he worked in a similar role at Thom Browne.
New York was all about working hard to be able to afford to play hard, says Schroder-Seah, but for majority of people in Berlin, it’s about working just enough to be able to truly enjoy all aspects of life. In the German city, he and his husband live in Samariterviertel in the Friedrichshain neighbourhood (which draws both young families and art/creative types), which is a quiet, almost suburban district just a 10 minutes walk away from the lively and youth-centric Boxhagenerplatz.
“My favorite thing about this city is all the basic comforts and necessities are readily available and affordable (especially having come from New York) while also offering a certain grittiness and edge. The circles we operate within are also very much concerned with living sustainability and intentionally in truly meaningful ways rather than for aesthetic or trend-driven purposes,” says Schroder-Seah. “Berlin ticks all my boxes. There is almost nothing I would change about it.”
Here, he shares his must-visit spots for fashion, food and culture lovers in the German capital.
“(Co-founder of the space) David Ramirez does the most excellent job curating vintage designer pieces and designing an environment (@pineapple_factory_gallery) that is worthy of these archival garments. You’re sure to find something to tickle your fancy – whether it be Comme des Garçons from the ’90s, Balenciaga (by Nicolas Ghesquiere), old Helmut Lang, or a rare pair of Vivienne Westwood McLaren Seditionaries bondage pants.”
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“I’ve become less of a clothes horse in the past few years and more of a… nester. International Wardrobe (@international_wardrobe), with its fairly deceiving name, stocks ethnic ceramics, textiles, and other home goods from Unesco protected sites in Romania, Bulgaria, India, Bangladesh and Laos with the purpose of giving these underappreciated cultures and artforms a platform. Since moving here, we’ve started hosting more dinners at home rather than eating out so I’ve amassed quite a collection of traditional serving ware that are a constant reminder of my place in the world and the importance of being cognizant of the constantly evolving global landscape.”
“This French bistro (@parisbar.berlin) is a West Berlin institution. Artwork by the likes of Martin Kippenberger, Daniel Richter dot the wall alongside a signed portrait of Yves Saint Laurent. Rolling Stone magazine interviewed David Bowie at the restaurant where he was known to hang out when he lived in the city. The food is mediocre at best but reserve a seat inside and sit back with a glass of Merlot and plate of escargots and fries for the ultimate in West Berlin people-watching.”
“Hidden behind a mirrored façade and accessible through a doorbell, Canadian chef and wunderkid Dylan Watson has created an eight-seat experience (@ernst.berlin) influenced by his time at the three-Michelin-starred kaiseki restaurant Ryugin in Tokyo. Subtle flavors let the almost naked seasonal produce sing over the 35- to 40-course dinner.
Definitely opt for the wine pairing if you drink and want some excellent natural wines to lubricate the conversation with the great team. Julius (Ernst’s more casual sister restaurant @julius.ernst.berlin) is just across the street and is open all day serving great coffee and pastries in the morning, French omelette and toast for brunch, and small plates and delicious wines in the evening.”
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“Roughly a two hour drive from central Berlin, this guest house (@forsthaus_strelitz) consists of eight rooms in a barn with a central restaurant; it perfectly captures the essence of farm living. Multiple cats, dogs, fowl, sheep and other animals roam the grounds which you can explore by day. At night the guests gather in the restaurant to enjoy a seasonal meal prepared by a team of expert chefs who source from the farm itself or from neighboring producers. Don’t expect a full roster of activities. This is a city escape and not a guided tour!”
“An intimate wood-paneled bar with art by Sarah Lucas, Marcel Dzama and Martin Kippenberger adorning the walls. Serious cocktails by the best bartenders in the city make for both a pre-dinner drink (happy hour from 6pm to 9pm and all day Sunday!) and/or night cap. Great restaurants like Joseph-Roth-Diele and Kin Dee are just a stone’s throw away.”
“After much negotiation, the German authorities have finally given their approval for Thai Park (@thaipark) to continue after more than 20 years of operating under the radar. Thai Park was originally a place of congregation for the Thai diaspora in Berlin, and it has become a food paradise every Friday to Sunday between April and October.
Despite much of its grittiness having been scrubbed away in the last two years (vendors now have to cook on tables and there are no longer alcohol retailers so make sure to BYOB!), the food is still as authentic as ever. There are a wealth of Thai restaurants in the city but this is probably where you’ll get the most authentic experience in the city outside of Thailand.”
“A real treat for classical music fans, this intimate piano salon (@pianosalon_christophori) is based in an old tram depot where instruments are both serviced and played on several times a week. The roster changes constantly and tickets go quickly so do ensure to check the website and book in advance. Drinks are included in the price of the ticket too!”
“Hidden behind heavy wooden doors to a former Jewish girls school, Mogg (@mogg) specialises in Jewish deli food that reminds me of drunken late night post-club meals when I lived in New York. Staples like Matzah ball soup, New York-style cheesecake, and a towering hunk of home cured and smoked pastrami on rye are a must-try.”
“Most non-Germans are unfamiliar with what the local cuisine consists of with the exception of maybe Wurst, Sauerkraut, Schnitzel and potatoes so (German bistro) Knodelwirtschaft (@Knodelwirtschaft) is sure to be an revelatory experience in the diversity of German fare. A potato dumpling stuffed with various fillings topped with a creamy mushroom sauce and goulash with sides of various pickled vegetables is sure to hit the spot especially on a cold dark winter evening.”
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“We do all our produce shopping at the outdoor markets and often make an event of it by sampling the wealth of gastronomic diversity at the cooked food stands. Whether it’s Turkish Gozleme, Ukranian Varenyky, German Fischbrotchen, or Italian arancini, the various food markets through the city are a good place to sate your appetite and drink a great and inexpensive glass of wine, while having a taste of local living in Berlin.
Our favorites are the Saturday food markets at Boxhangenerplatz and Kollwitzplatz, as well as the vintage markets on Maybachufer and at Boxhangenerplatz on Sundays.”
This article was first published on FEMALE.