“Der Wedding” Magazine on Everyday Culture from the Berlin District of Wedding

 „Der Wedding“ (www.derwedding.de)
Photo (detail): © „Der Wedding“ (www.derwedding.de)

A young print magazine is emerging from the Berlin district of Wedding whose unconventional themes and contemporary layout are as exciting as the quarter itself.

Wedding is actually a Berlin district with a problematic social prognosis. The residents suffer from a high unemployment rate and associated consequences. But the fact is that Wedding is also a district near the city centre – and although things long did not look that way, the march of gentrification is not halting at the former workers’ quarter, either.

© “Der Wedding” (www.derwedding.de) © “Der Wedding” (www.derwedding.de) But Der Wedding is also the name of one of the most interesting magazine and editorial design projects in the German capital, which is not exactly known to be lacking in such projects. The subtitle describes the magazine as a “Magazine on Everyday Culture” – and life between little shops and discounters, U-Bahn intersections, thoroughfares and sparse green areas has a great deal of everydayness to offer.

Since 2007, journalist Julia Boek and designer Axel Völcker have been filtering out individual thematic areas from this lived everyday culture for their annual magazine. Although the lavishly designed and thoroughly and extensively researched magazine is always entitled Der Wedding, the two founders devote themselves to a different theme in each issue – which might be “Kinship,” or “The West,” or as in the 2013 issue, the theme of “Money.” This may be narrated in equal measure from the perspective of a woman collecting empty bottles for a little deposit money, or from that of an IT entrepreneur who is downsizing and for whom renunciation is the new wealth. The reader moreover learns from a German-Turkish couple why guests at taki – traditional ceremonies at a Turkish wedding – give away cash and jewelry for hours on end.

Themes from the street

© “Der Wedding” (www.derwedding.de) © “Der Wedding” (www.derwedding.de) “We discover our themes right on the street and not in the spotlights of major platforms,” as journalist Boek explains the approach of the now award-winning magazine, which most recently won the Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany in the category of communications design.

© “Der Wedding” (www.derwedding.de) © “Der Wedding” (www.derwedding.de) Whereby these streets can take one far beyond Wedding – since the two seek out their tales of everyday culture everywhere: on the one hand, the “West” edition has a reportage on the unbroken love of many West Berliners for the USA, which has been and is perceived as their protective big brother since the days of the Cold War.

But the editors also take the reader to the bundesdeutsche west, in this case to Dortmund. In a photo essay, “Goldener Westen,” a concept from the times before the fall of the Berlin Wall that inhabitants of the GDR used half-ironically, half-seriously to refer to the West German BDR, hangs like a taunt between the dreary facades of the Ruhr region.

And the way leads on to New Delhi, where people on the street were asked about their idea of the west – whereby in this case the culturally shaped gaze is on that other, western life.

Design follows content

© “Der Wedding” (www.derwedding.de) © “Der Wedding” (www.derwedding.de) To enable the reader to share in perspectives such as these, Axel Völcker, who studied communication design in Berlin and created an initial Wedding prototype for his thesis project at the Berlin University of Applied Sciences (Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin / HTW), always adapts the layout to fit the themes.

In the “Money” issue, for instance, Völcker exclusively used the Arial font as it is free of charge and therefore omnipresent in districts like Wedding: “Everything is lettered this way here, from kebab shops to nail studios,” says Völcker. “So it doesn’t make sense to choose an exotic font in an issue about money.” Moreover, to highlight the statements of the various reportages, he had them printed on different kinds of paper. Thus, a menacingly glittery photo gallery on a Munich trade fair for millionaires was accordingly printed on high-gloss paper, and by contrast a reportage on precarious work like scrap collecting was quietly and un-dramatically displayed on plain paper. With this dispassionate objectivity, Völcker offsets the garish optics of the millionaire’s trade fair – and along the way can show why print products still have a future: Design possibilities like these for expressing contrasts do not yet exist in the on-line area.” Together with the choice of themes, this playful approach to design is what lends the magazine its freshness and charm.

The magazine as stepping stone

Julia Boek and Axel Völcker Julia Boek and Axel Völcker | Photo and ©: Michael Kuchinke-Hofer Boek and Völcker have demonstrated that they are able to conceptualise and generate design coherence for a complex and comprehensive magazine – the two are now accordingly in demand: “For us, Wedding is a good stepping stone, we are now developing publications for other publishers and agencies,” says Julia Boek. But Wedding will continue to exist, the two will continue to deal with the theme of everyday culture in the future as well – whether in Wedding, in Berlin or elsewhere.

The fifth issue of the magazine Der Wedding on the theme “Money” is available throughout Berlin in book and magazine shops. For a selection of nationwide sales points and on-line orders, please visit the website of the magazine.