Berlin’s Flower Shops

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.

Blumen-10a

The Platonic Ideal.

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.

Blumen-16

While the cursive green and yellow neon sign is common in Berlin, there are enough small differences in the script to suggest that these signs were not mass produced.

Blumen-2

Variations on a theme: green on green.

Blumen-9

A classic from the former east Berlin. For more information about the history of this sign and its designer Manfred Gensicke, visit this page (our gratitude to @hardwig for the tip).

Blumen-6

Possibly the most extravagant capital ‘B’ in all the city’s flower shop signs.

Blumen-4

The white with aqua border sign was also not uncommon, and there are still a handful of surviving examples around the city.

Blumen-15

Of course, not all of them had to be cursive. This sign applies the green/yellow colour scheme to a sturdy sans serif.

Blumen-14

Not everyone showed up to the meeting where they decided how Berlin flower shop signs should look. Also: nul points for kerning.

Blumen-5

A stunning script … such a great shame that the neon tubes are starting to break and fall away.

NewBlumen

This typeface, with its nod to the cursive tradition, seems to be common among newer flower shop signs. Here are two examples from different parts of town, one illuminated and one painted.

Blumen-12

One of the most elegant flower shop signs in Berlin. Alas the shop closed late in 2016, and there is no way of knowing how long the sign will remain.

If you don’t already, you should follow us at @Berlin_Type on Twitter, for your daily dose of typographic goodness from Berlin.

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10 thoughts on “Berlin’s Flower Shops

  1. Love this post. The signs are so unflowery if that is a word. They reflect a kind of seriousness of purpose that giving flowers often implies. A ceremonious ritual rather than a “sorry I forgot to buy you something” gesture. But maybe there is a bit of flower power there too. Excellent work!

    Liked by 1 person

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