Recycling History through Design

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Berlin, Germany with my good friend Ben Gallagher to work on a marketing campaign with an up-and-coming startup called Hackerbay.

This city was awing.

Berlin is such a complex and edgy place to be. It was beyond any expectation I created in my mind on the flight over. I never felt unsafe, but I never felt like I was strolling through District One of the Hunger Games. It was a perfect balance.

Ben and I took our time getting to know the place. We looked at maps, endlessly questioned the founders of Hackerbay about the different areas, historical landmarks, the neighborhood stereotypes, and so on. My point is we didn’t make any assumptions of the city and let it tell its own story.

Through this process, we felt we understood Berlin after returning home more so than a run-of-the-mill tourist (granted we had local guides). Having this open mindset while being there allowed us to appreciate the entire picture of Berlin, and not just the tunnel-vision details most get mindlessly caught up in. This inspired us to go even further…

The second night there, whilst (always wanted to use that word in writing) sitting comfortably in our architect’s loft high above Kreuzberg and the Mercedes-Benz HQ, I started to imagine what the city looked like in all of its ‘odd’ moments of history, the years that most don’t talk about or remember all together.

Thanks to some brave soul uploading old and forgotten film to YouTube, I stumbled across a remastered and colored film of Berlin in the year 1900.

The year. 1900. This is the image that was burned into my mind.

 

This looks like a movie set.

There is no way this isn’t a movie set.

Ben and I were speechless seeing these shots, how different things were only 117 years ago. In the span of human history, 117 years is not that long. We’ve been through two world wars, a moon landing,

We were standing at that exact place, Alexanderplatz, just a few hours before seeing these scenes. It put society, technology, and overall progress into perspective…even if it were just for a few minutes during a 360p YouTube video.

At one point, with his eyes glued to the screen, Ben said, “Look how weird people look.”

And it’s so true…but everyone at that moment in time thought they looked presentable and at their absolute best, not knowing what the H+M/Coachella fashion trends may bring a century down the road.

My point about all of this is if these videos had such profound impact on the two of us staring at a retina screen, how could we capture the same feeling and repurpose it towards something creative or even something marketable? If decades of creative work has already come and gone, how can we recycle past design, fashion, ideas, etc and put our own spin on it?

“Good artists copy, great artists steal.”
-Picaso

We found another video the day after Berlin was liberated in 1945, again, stunned by this weird moment in history I’ve never even considered to think about. The war ended and although the week prior was filled with bombings and bullets, everyone had to go back to their normal, everyday life overnight.

That’s when we found this guy from 1945…

 

LOOK AT THAT STYLE. He has to be coolest guy I’ve ever seen. Casually riding a bike in a suit with the biggest collar I’ve seen, smoking a cig.

Ben immediately paused the video and said, “Let’s design that.” We took the screenshot and came up with a few ideas. I know with a little work and a catchy phrase, this could be a poster in every dorm room across America.

We’ll see where it goes, but this watching odd moments in history made a clear point that design and style will always exist throughout world history, and some of the most interesting and untouched nuggets can be uncovered in the places no one else bothers to look.

 

Anyways, something to think about.

Cheers,

Eric W

Check out my website for more content!

ps. here’s a new perspective you’re not used to