Bread and Butter Berlin 2015
Founded in 2001, Bread and Butter Berlin (BBB) soon advanced to become one of the world’s most important fairs for the urban streetwear segment. After Cologne, Berlin-Spandau and Barcelona, it finally fixed the former airport Berlin-Tempelhof as venue twice a year in 2009 and decided to stay there for good – until insolvency forced it to cancel the January 2015 event. Recently relaunched, BBB will be back at Tempelhof this coming July with a much smaller team, a large enough budget and a somewhat modified concept.
Also new at BBB is its creative director, Haman Alimardani, founder of the fashion label Hamansutra (↗ form 254, p. 44), who during a two-month stint as part of the BBB team completely revamped its visual identity. We talked to him about the fair, his work and the new concept.
What did your work as the BBB’s creative director actually entail?
First, it was about a new campaign and the marketing needed to get the company back on its feet and restore its self-confidence. Because the BBB suffered such serious setbacks last year, it was good to be able to work with a new team whose members were all highly motivated. There was no room for the sceptics and waverers who used to be there. The creative director is the one with the most responsibility after the owner, so I could have a hand in a lot of other things as well. The most important thing was to win other people’s confidence so that they let you get on with your job.
Have you ever been an exhibitor at BBB yourself?
I had a definite acceptance for my first Hamansutra stand in January 2015 but then BBB became insolvent. I and many others had invested a deal of energy and funds but if you work on timeless products, the cancellation was not so bad. The new BBB is taking place as a start-up from 7 to 9 July 2015 and I am planning on being there with a stand, come what may. Although as an emotional designer and artist, one is often knocked by the large fairs – be it positively or negatively – it is important to be there. Because if you are not at the fair as a visitor or a brand, then you simply don’t exist.
How did the collaboration come about?
After BBB dismissed the previous creative director, a good old friend of mine, Alexander Kernlinger, phoned me. He has been working in the fashion business and for BBB for over 10 years. His call sounded like one you make when a criminal has broken into the house and you immediately call the police: “Can you come to Berlin quickly and design a campaign? It’s got to be crazy and futuristic!” I would have hung up but I wanted to know more immediately and wanted to discuss my fee.
What is different to previous fairs?
The forthcoming BBB is certain to be more personal than previous fairs and none of the brands can decide who their stand will be next to. It will be a playground where new and old generations will meet and get to know one another in a different way. There are lots of talented designers, however, many are going under because the fashion industry is so tough. This has to be changed. Hardworking people also deserve to have a stand. You mustn’t forget that the new BBB is still growing like a living organism and only works if all the brands pull together and purchase stands. This time, entry is free. Before, it cost a legendary 500 euros and the first million was soon made. The prices per square metre are also much better value in July 2015.
What concept did you follow?
That’s easy, because actually there is none – except a very distinctive corporate identity that we hope will inspire others. I insist on my creative licence as an artist in every project. My personal goal has always been to combine tolerance with rigorous organisation and serious action. Only then can new works come about. It is up to the brands to invent the kind of concept they would like the fair to have. In April we had a workshop at Tempelhof in Berlin with all our existing and new customers. The brands realised that they were going to be intellectually challenged. There are always some who are so blinkered that they simply cannot handle the freedom that the absence of a concept offers. They want someone else to jump first and only then will they follow. It really is priceless.
What is the BBB’s new identity intended to communicate?
Bread and Butter Berlin is back! Before the new identity was fi nished, I ran it through the “classic cleaning lady test”. I pasted a sketch of the campaign alongside lots of other campaigns on the street and discovered that the only thing that sticks when you walk past is a big fat “B” – a big fat “B” that is much stronger in terms of attention than any word starting on the letter “B”. There are lots of self-pitying tales of how its insolvency tore the company apart. What I did was to rationalise all those emotive stories and turn them into a poster – an extravagant A0 screen print made with love in Berlin.
You come from both worlds, graphic design and fashion design. What influence does this have on your work?
I have always worked eclectically and have taught myself a lot of things. This influence was perfect for this job: graphics for fashion design. I have created a fresh look for a fair at which the most renowned fashion brands are presented, above all, in the area of denim. Because graphic realisation is so very important for products, I have been able to get even more involved. Making a slight exaggeration: the product does 10 per cent of the work and the marketing 90 per cent. And the same is true for my Hamansutra label.