What We Loved at Berlin Bike Week

10 of our favorite bike design innovations, from a seatless BMX to coconut handle bars.

BMX race image by Katrin Greiling.

Every day in Berlin, an estimated 500,000 bicyclists take to the streets on their preferred mode of transportation. In fact, the German capital is increasingly becoming one of Europe's most bike-friendly cities. It's only fitting then that Berlin is host to one of the most creative and vibrant bike shows on the continent—the Berliner Fahrradschau (Berlin Bike Show)—now in its sixth year.

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Microchips Could Replace Animal Testing Around the World

How a smartphone-sized gadget could free over 100 million animals

Illustration by Tyler Hoehne

According to German biologist Uwe Marx, microscopic artificial organs may soon eliminate the need for animal testing. Marx led a keynote speech and presented his company’s newest “human-on-a-chip” prototypes at last week’s ninth World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences. His company, TissUse, develops microchips made up of circulatory networks, living human cells, and tiny pumps that simulate the architecture and activity of human organs. The technology can be used to test medical treatments and substances without using animals.

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“The Word ‘Creative’ Actually Means Something.”

The artist behind "New York City Waterfalls" and "The weather project" takes us inside his Berlin studio to discuss how he turns art into action.

When I enter Olafur Eliasson’s studio, I feel like I’m entering a batcave of creativity—a repurposed brewery in the heart of Berlin, it defies its austere brick exterior. In every corner of the Danish-Icelandic artist’s four-floor compound, architects huddle around blueprints, craftsmen tinker with color prisms, technicians challenge light and sound, and a suite of mirrored orbs awaits its public debut. This immersive studio environment calls to mind the full sensory experience felt in Eliasson’s large-scale works, such as “New York City Waterfalls” and “The weather project.” On the top floor is the classroom of Eliasson’s temporary university, Institut für Raumexperimente, which is scheduled to end its five-year run this spring. It offers the only stillness among this buzzing laboratory of 70 plus employees, conducive to growing more quiet ventures such as Little Sun, a solar-powered LED lamp and social business, which has already sold 126,402 lights with a goal of reaching 1.6 billion people without electricity, globally. After my all-access pass through this creative command center, I spoke with Eliasson about this new era of art-making, where collaboration is key to developing projects that enrich our public spaces, bend our notion of space and time, and beg for us to engage.

When work goes out into the public, does it take on different meanings than expected?

I don’t have a solidified idea or dogma under which a work of art is manifesting itself. To create a work of art is like having a great dialogue with somebody. And once the piece of artwork is integrated into a public space, it has to facilitate the same quality of dialogue. And the dialogue might drift in certain directions.

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Barbie Gets Crucified in Germany

Would you want to visit the Barbie Dreamhouse or are you glad people are out protesting?

In Berlin, it's hard to miss the massive pink structure that has sprouted up seemingly over night in the middle of town. Emblazoned with the words Barbie, The Dreamhouse Experience, it is a 50,000 square foot replica of the plastic doll's Malibu mansion. Inside, visitors can see over 350 Barbies, try on the petite doll's outfits using a "digital mirror,"and virtually bake cupcakes in a the Dreamhouse kitchen. Fans of the toy can live out this slice of domesticity through August 25.

But some people, namely the "sexstremists" in FEMEN, are not happy about the pink playhouse, arguing that Barbie is a symbol of repression and sends the wrong message to young girls about what their role in society should be. During the opening of the "experience" yesterday, topless women and men in drag took over the entryway carrying signs that read, "I will free you from the horror house" and "Stop Sexism." One woman, with "Life in plastic is not fantastic" scrawled across her stomach, stood in the massive high heel water fountain and burned a Barbie tied to a crucifix. According to the feminist group:

Ritual Barbie'cue with fried meat of the plastic idol was made to demonstrate the true meaning of the history of commercial monster Mattel. They have turned a piece of plastic into a god for millions of girls from all over the world who now seek only to imitate plastic shapes and stupidity and absurdity of conduct. The nazi ideology of Mattel purposefully creates the image of a female doll dictating not only the appearance of new generations, and that the worst social role of reckless beauty finding a reason to exist in the continuous care of their appearance and the house. FEMEN urges mercilessly burn the idols! A woman is not a Barbie! A woman is a revolution!

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