Bar at the Palais am Funkturm © Messe Berlin
29. September 2021, by Peter Eichhorn
BCB Bauhaus pop-up bar with Rémy Savage and his team
Known as the ‘bar with no name’, it is famous for its minimalist Bauhaus style. Now the BCB is working with Russian Standard Vodka to bring this popular London bar run by Rémy Savage of France to Berlin.
It was a new era in which innovation followed revolution, and there was a yearning for a return to new beginnings. Bauhaus in Berlin is shaped by these times, epochs and awakenings. Artisans and artists are placed on equal footing. And in a way that is almost magical, bartenders continue to find inspiration in the era and in the philosophy that shaped it. The era’s magnificent shakers, bar tools, and furniture ranging from armchairs to lighting fixtures have become examples of timelessly classic design.
In 2017, the ‘Hotel Beaux Arts’ in Miami dedicated an unusual ceremony in its ‘L’Atelier’ bar to that school of art. Every Wednesday, hotel guests were given personal invitations to enjoy the ‘Bauhaus Bomber’ cocktail, a fascinating indigo-blue cocktail that was inspired by the ‘Aviation’ cocktail. Uniting craftsmanship and art with unadorned elegance and beauty, the Bauhaus concept was carried on in the menu.
Mixologist or bartender?
The key concepts underlying the Bauhaus movement can be seen in the famous manifesto composed in April 1919 by the movement's founder, Walter Gropius: “Architects, sculptors, painters—we all must return to craftsmanship! For there is no such thing as ‘art by profession’. There is no essential difference between the artist and the artisan. The artist is an exalted artisan. Merciful heaven, in rare moments of illumination beyond man’s will, may allow art to blossom from the work of his hand, but the foundations of proficiency are indispensable to every artist. This is the original source of creative design.”
So a mixologist is no better than a bartender. And a sommelier is a type of restaurateur. That’s all well and good.
But we cannot forget the epoch in which the Bauhaus movement existed. World War One had just come to an end, and the German Kaiser had abdicated his throne. A new democracy was struggling to come into existence, and it was a time of new beginnings based on a new conception of humankind. Then the National Socialists seized power and proceeded to demonise the Bauhaus and other contemporary art movements, labelling them ‘degenerate’. They referred to the Bauhaus as the ‘church of Marxism’ and drove its artists into exile. When rebuilding began in western Germany after 1945, people modelled their efforts to reconstruct their shattered country on the Bauhaus. That is how the Bauhaus ended up influencing not only the 1920s, but also the 1950s.
The online design gallery ZEITLOS - BERLIN sells, restores and rents original Bauhaus, Art Deco, Streamline and Mid-Century Modern furniture.
Bauhaus meets Paris and London
And now we are also encountering these turning points at the Bar Convent Berlin. Starting from Hammarskjöldplatz and the historical home of the Berlin ExpoCenter City – structures that still exude the aura of Nazi architecture – we head in the direction of the gardens surrounding the Palais am Funkturm from the 1950s, an architectural response to the older structure that initiated an architectural dialogue that gives people something to think about.
This 1950s Palais is home to an exquisite bar that was created in the Bauhaus style. And this bar and its captivating drinks will be one of the highlights of the BCB. Rémy Savage, freshly arrived from London, awaits us behind the bar. The European bar scene knows this bartender well as a lively figure with a passion for philosophy. In London’s ‘Artesian Hotel’, he accepted the challenge of following in the giant footsteps of Alex Kratena and managed to impress with his menu of two-component drinks. Before this he had caused a stir in Paris, making famous its ‘Little Red Door’ establishment whose bar menus enchanted patrons with the interplay of each drink with design, architecture and art. It is an idea that he has taken a step further in a bar of his own that he has recently opened. In his latest undertaking, Savage has been influenced in particular by the functionality and minimalism of Wassily Kandinsky. Minimalist drinks for the people, served quickly – that is Savage’s vision for his new bar, and he emphasises the dash of humour that he strives to add to this endeavour. So don't be put off by the overarching intellectual framework. As to his selection, he followed the ideas of Mies van der Rohe, who famously said “Less is more!” The bar will only use 20 bottles. In addition, all recipes will be made public, and he is offering a three-month ‘exchange programme’ for any colleagues who would like to learn more about the concept.
© Rémy Savage and Team
Bar with no name
Savage has resolutely refused to give his bar a name. Instead, the logo of his drinking establishment in Dalston comprises three classic design symbols: a yellow triangle, a red square and a blue circle. The likeable Frenchman is most annoyed by the fact that there is no yellow triangle emoji, as this leads to some humorous difficulties in communications. The Instagram account has been christened a_bar_with_shapes-for_a_name, while the terms ‘Savage Bar’ and ‘Bauhaus Bar’ also appear from time to time.
Now Savage is bringing his bar concept to the BCB, where he will be mixing for us at the perfect bar with the support of Russian Standard Vodka.
The true heart of the concept lies in ‘Zeitlos Berlin’ (literally ‘timeless Berlin’), and we are not talking about the eponymous bar chain in Germany's capital, but rather an ambitious design studio that is heavily influenced by the Bauhaus style, as well as by the Art Deco, streamline and the mid-century modern movements. The team sells, restores and rents furniture and design objects. Film productions frequently make use of their magnificent originals.
And that is how this special BCB bar project has managed to acquire its incomparable furniture and furnishings, allowing it to enchant visitors not only with its drinks, but also its aesthetics.
As the designer David Carson once said: “Design will save the world right after rock and roll does.”