How To Spend It

Destinations | Perfect Weekend

Mateo Kries’ Berlin

The director of the Vitra Design Museum has curated exhibitions on Mies van der Rohe, Issey Miyake and Le Corbusier, and is also a lecturer, critic and writer

December 28 2012
Nicole Swengley

I’m usually woken around 7am on Saturday by my children, Lou, five, and Olivia, one, and then we all go out for breakfast with my wife, Nadine, to Café Meierei, which has a relaxed atmosphere. I have a croissant and a cappuccino, read the newspapers and often bump into people I know.

I live on a beautiful street in the centre of Berlin, and on Saturday mornings it’s nice to wander around the farmers’ market at Kollwitzplatz, where you can buy fruit and vegetables, flowers, deli food and arts and crafts. I’m a newspaper and magazine junkie so I go to a wonderful bookshop called Do You Read Me?!, which is run by a friend. It sells hundreds of different titles and I buy design magazines and periodicals here. I also pop into Andreas Murkudis, a shop selling clothing for men and women, home accessories, jewellery and toys in a huge gallery-like space. It’s a great place to look for gifts.

Another place I often visit is Arndt, a contemporary art gallery, where I sometimes buy small pieces, such as the charcoal drawing by Croatian artist Julije Knifer that I have at home. I’m passionate about works on paper because they remind me of books, and also perhaps because my wife is a graphic designer and illustrator. I like artists who draw or print their work themselves. I’m also interested in Japanese culture, and paper is a big part of that heritage, with paper screens creating lightness and transparency.  

For lunch we often go to Poulette, a small, family-run French restaurant that serves very good fish and isn’t at all touristy. Or we go to Borchardt for delicious wiener schnitzel and fries. I usually attempt to get some time to myself when Nadine takes the children home in the afternoon, and once a month I have a massage at Hotel Mandala, a well-designed hotel with a good spa. Otherwise I go for a run in the Tiergarten, as it really clears out my mind after a crazy week.

My personal and professional life mixes in an easy-going way in Berlin. I often pop in for a chat with the owners of Galerie Ulrich Fiedler, which specialises in 20th-century modernism, or look in Galerie Hans-Peter Jochum, for postwar designers such as Ettore Sottsass and the Memphis Group. Sometimes, however, I feel my whole life is a cultural programme, so I like to invite friends from outside the design world round for supper. I love cooking – fish soup is one of my specialities – and I make pasta with asparagus in summer; in winter it’s stuffed pumpkin or coq au vin. After supper we chat, talk about projects and listen to jazz, so I don’t get to bed till 2am.

On Sunday morning, after a lie-in, we might go to Hamburger Bahnhof or the New National Gallery, before heading to Grunewald, south-west of the city, for a walk by the river. We also like to go to Werbellinsee Lake, set in a national park to the north, where there’s a nice hotel and restaurant, Café Wildau. We have lunch here and enjoy a sauna in the spa; in summer you can swim in the lake, too.

The most important thing to me about weekends is spending time with my family and getting into the countryside. I get in a very bad mood if I don’t see nature for more than a week – even in winter. You just have to dress up warm and know the right place for a glühwein, such as at Fischerhütte, a biergarten on Lake Schlachtensee.

We have dinner at home on Sunday evenings and I go to bed about 10.30pm because I often need to catch a flight to Basel at 7.30am on Monday morning. I used to fly to Basel more often, but now I have whole weeks in Basel and whole weeks in Berlin; I’ve got into a rhythm. I still need time to decompress at weekends, though.