In terms of ubiquity, flower shops are second only to Apothekes and Spätis on the streets of Berlin. If you happen to be on your way to a dinner with old friends – or on the kind of old-school date that requires flowers – ‘I couldn’t find a flower shop’ simply isn’t going to cut it as an excuse in Berlin.
With ubiquity comes diversity, and there are countless flower-shop signs in all corners of the city ranging in style from elegant to utilitarian to straight-up boring. However there are also a number of signs – and presumably there were once many more – which present variations on a very specific theme.
These signs tend to be green, or yellow, or in certain wonderful cases a combination of the two: yellow neon on a green background. Many present the word ‘Blumen’ in an elegant cursive script, sometimes with a rakish swoosh above the letter ‘u’. And almost all of them are fashioned from the finest neon available in Berlin, which is to say, the finest in all of Europe.
These glorious expressions of vernacular typography would have once been so common as to attract almost no notice—the cursive green and yellow neon sign was simply how you knew it was a flower shop. Now that so many of them have been replaced with newer and, for the most part, less attractive versions, the older signs appear to us in their full magnificence as rare artefacts from an era in danger of being forgotten.
As the neon tubes burn out and the green paint flakes from the underlying letters, the old flower shop signs will continue to vanish, replaced with a series of interchangeable branches of Blumen 2000. Perhaps there will even come a day when no one remembers how the signs accompanying Berlin’s flower shops were once as bold, as exquisite and as enticing as the flowers themselves. Until that time, the following collection is a reminder of the glories that may still be found in this ever-changing city.
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