BERLIN INSIDER: Ricarda Messner
Ricarda Messner is a Berlin native and the Founder and Publisher of Flaneur— a new magazine that focuses on one street in a selected city in each issue. Delving deep into the quirks and complexities of a microcosm such as one street creates many opportunities for discovery. Issue #3, which focuses on Rue Bernard in Montreal is in stores now.
What inspires you most about Berlin?
I was born in Berlin and grew up there — so for me when I think of Berlin, I look back on an interesting love-hate relationship. It took me a while to realize how great it is to have your roots in a town. This falling-in-love process has been the greatest enrichment for me. It’s also inspiring for to me to observe the latest dynamic as the city becomes more and more international. I welcome the change as I believe it is necessary. Otherwise a city stagnates and dies.
What are you currently working on?
We just finished up our third issue which focuses on Rue Bernard in Montreal which was published mid-June.
Tell us about Flaneur — why did you launch it?
Early 2012 I had the first basic idea. One issue, one street. I had just come back to Berlin after living for a while in New York. Being disoriented in terms of where to go, what to do, I watched a lot of movies and walked around in my own neighborhood which I thought I knew so well before and which had always seemed to me very uninspiring when I had lived there before. After closer examination, this whole idea for the magazine started. Based on the street-theme, it also lets us push the boundaries of print. Contributors from various disciplines — musicians, architects, movie makers, photographers, writers, performance artists, etc can be brought together in one issue.
Why did you decide to do print versus digital?
This print versus digital discussion has been on repeat for a while. Doing a print publication doesn‘t mean consequently you are against the digital world. If you look at our magazine or at others, the content, the design, the haptic aspect can be presented at its best in print. In these days there is probably no way around using the digital support, as we also rely on it for our online communication to keep on spreading the word.
Everyone seems to be so globally focused these days, with access to everything available online ... Why did you decide to go hyper local and focus on just one street? And how do you choose which street to focus on?
At first sight a magazine dealing with one street concentrates on a very concrete frame. Once you start diving into it, you soon realize all the different layers, the almost never-ending variety a street can offer. The editorial concept behind it lets us tell universal stories while staying based on a hyper local point of view.
There is no real strategy behind the choice of the street. It’s more of a natural feeling that invites you to take a closer look. And it can be even an unpleasant mood or atmosphere, which was the case with our last issue in Leipzig. Even though it is a very dead and empty route, we were able to create 170 pages of content.
Where do you live in Berlin and what do you like most about the neighborhood?
I‘ve spent my youth years growing up in Charlottenburg and still live there. Berlin has this special characteristic to me where each neighborhood really stands out on its own. One can find many different cities within Berlin. Each time I leave Charlottenburg, I am happy to return. It feels simply like home and is more residential to me than all of the other emerging, cool areas to live in right now.
What do you do when you're not working on Flaneur?
The last year has been all about Flaneur. It took and still takes some time to forumlate a structure and figure things out when you start them from scratch. And I especially didn‘t have any clue what it takes to run a magazine. But things came together pretty quickly, especially with the great response after our launch.
I will be starting to work on some other ideas soon. Nothing concrete yet but it revolves around more publications and book projects.
Can you recommend one great street in Berlin that’s a must-see for visitors to the city?
While this may not seem like a very creative recommendation, to me, one of the greatest streets in Berlin is the Kurfürstendamm. Known as the old "flaneur" route in the western part of town, it is full of diversity and changes its look and atmosphere constantly. I truly recommend starting from the very beginning where it's rather residential turning into an ultra touristy side, ending with the famous department store KaDeWe.