I 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 immaculate.
Berlin is such a complex and edgy place to be. I never felt remotely unsafe, but I never felt like I was strolling through District One of the Hunger Games. Ben and I took our time getting to know the place. We looked at maps, interrogated the founders about the different areas, historical landmarks, the neighborhood stereotypes, and so on. The point is we didn't make any assumptions of the city.
Through this process, we felt we understood Berlin a bit more than a run-of-the-mill tourist (granted we had local guides). Having this mindset while traveling allowed us to appreciate the entire picture, not just tunnel vision details. This inspired us to go even further...
The second night abroad, while 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 'weird' moments of history, years that most don't talk about or remember all too well.
Thanks to some brave soul uploading 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. Even in the span of human history, 117 years isn't long at all.
We were standing at that exact place, Alexanderplatz, just a few hours before seeing this. It put society, technology, and overall progress into perspective...even if it were just for a few minutes during a YouTube video.
At one point, with eyes glued to the screen, Ben said: "Look how weird people look." And it's so true...but everyone then thought they looked presentable and at their best, not knowing what the H+M/Coachella fashion trends might be 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 Macbook Pro, how can we capture the same feeling and repurpose it towards something creative or 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."
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. The war ended and although the week prior was filled with bombings and bullets, everyone goes back to their normal life on a sunny day.
That's when we found this guy...
LOOK AT THAT STYLE. He has to be coolest guy I've ever seen. Casually riding a bike in a suit, smoking a cig.
Ben immediately paused the video and said, "we have to design that." We took the screenshot and came up with a few ideas. I thought this could be a poster in every dorm room across America.
We'll see where it goes, but this hour of time watching odd moments in history made a clear point that design and style already exist throughout history, and some of the most interesting and untouched nuggets of gold can be uncovered in the places no one else bothers to look.