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Despite Berlin's continued rise as a leader in design, Hamburg remains number one.
With the completion of the Elbphilharmonie and the revitalization of the Harbour Area (especially in the HafenCity district) it is safe to say that Hamburg is the epicentre of contemporary architecture.
Hamburg’s long history of design and culture is best witnessed in the city’s favourite unknown museum: Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe (Arts & Crafts museum). Although located in a less favourable area near the main train station, the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG) is one of Europe’s most influential arts and crafts museums, showcasing the remarkable story of human creativity with its 500,000 objects spanning 4,000 years of history. Ranging from ancient to contemporary art, the museum’s collections include graphic art, photography, new media, design, ceramics and fashion. Highlights include the famous Art Nouveau rooms and the orange canteen of Der Spiegel magazine by the Danish designer Verner Panton. If you’re a firm believer that animated films, comics, works of fashion icons like Coco Chanel and Alexander McQueen or the design works of Dieter Rams belong in a museum, then this is a place for you.
It is time to the cozy neighborhood of Ottensen for an eccentric (in a good way) furniture designer and collector. PLY is the embassy for unestablished interior designs. They present a lot of pre-war industrial originals along with modern classics. You will find works from Jean Prouvé, Alvar Aaalto, Egon Eiermann and Friso Kramer as well as their own designs like the PLY Stool and the K 831 PLY. For their own objects, which you will find all across the more interesting offices and bars in Hamburg, Ply cooperates with the most profound manufacturers such as Vitra, Artek or Wilde+Spieth. All PLY products are produced in Hamburg! Head to their central showroom to be intrigued – it is located in a nice quarter of Hamburg-Altona: Hohenesch 68.
After touring the architectural sights, reward yourself with a drink at the unusual yet best designed bar in town. The Central Congress, located right in the city centre, boasts a unique take on 1980s West-German design. The interior feels as though you are entering a cabinet meeting with Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (who remains beloved in Hamburg). The conference-style table arrangement, stylish black leather stools and dark wood panelled walls make quite a statement. It also happens to be one of Hamburg’s best bars, so you’re sure to enjoy a proper drink against this dapper setting.
It all starts with the Elbphilharmonie. This once controversial Herzog & de Meuron concert hall has evolved into a triumphant landmark in Hamburg. The new glass construction built atop an old warehouse building (Kaispeicher A) resembles a hoisted sail, or ocean waves. The windows reflect the colour of the sky and shine different lights depending on the angle you view them. The interior of the structure is just as intriguing, with its long escalator rides, irregular staircases up to the concert hall, and its balustrade of the plaza. The sights and sounds of this concert hall are awe-inspiring for both the musicians and audience alike.
Welcome to Stilwerk. Located near the Elbe river, this huge old building is like a trendy mall for fans of design. Its eight floors house flagship stores and showrooms for prestigious furniture brands like COR, Tobias Grau, or Bulthaupt, as well as small design shops, an expresso bar and exhibition space dedicated to design. The building alone is worth the visit: the brick building served as a malt house in the 19th century and sits in an architecturally exciting corne of the Elbe near the legendary Fischmarkt.