Print Fetish: soda Berlin Shares Their 10 Favourite Publications You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

We asked soda Berlin curator Isabell Hummel about the history of the store, the future of print and what sorts of wonders lay amongst the shelves of Berlin's beloved book store.

Anyone who claims print is dead clearly has not spent time at soda, a store dedicated to selling “curious publications to curious people”. The store was launched in Munich in 2004 by Sebastian Steinacker, who was inspired by London’s bookstores and libraries during his studies at Central St. Martin’s. His love for printed matter evolved into an impeccably designed storefront celebrated by those seeking a refuge for inspiration. The original soda’s Berlin counterpart — which was recently included in LVMH’s coveted city guide — was opened 11 years later, in 2015.

The Berlin store draws in hundreds of passers-by with its dazzling window displays and irresistible visual appeal. The bustle of Rosenthaler Platz is mollified upon entry, as visitors enter a space which is equal parts gallery and library, all mediated by effervescent store manager and soda Berlin poster woman, Isabell Hummel. The Munich native also comes from a fashion background. When asked about her initial career aspirations as a fashion journalist, Hummel responded, “I didnt really want to work for a magazine. It felt too static for me, too much sitting and not enough writing”. It wasn’t until after school that she realized retail was her passion. Hummel and Steinacker met when Hummel was managing a concept store called Sunday in Bed, located just across the street from the original soda. Hummel was present from day one, scouting locations, drilling into bare walls, and amending the atmosphere of the original architectural design, which she deemed too sterile. “In the beginning, I felt like it was too clean, there were no tables, no rugs. It was like a cathedral, but not the kind you want to go into.” She combatted the “white cube” effect by adding cosy rugs and lively plants, which transform the space into one which is both inviting and engaging.

When asked about the future of print, Hummel responded with a hopeful smile and a single word: “Niche. That’s what makes print work.” The other mechanic is the success of print according to Hummel is our need for escape from the incessant barrage of information that defines the digital age. “I think creative people don’t want to constantly be looking at screens, seeing stuff that then just disappears immediately. If you’re working creatively, I think you often prefer to have something in your hands, so maybe you can rip it, or cut it, hang on it your wall, or whatever else!” That kind of tactility is irreplaceable, and according to Hummel, will ensure that print is here to stay. She does, however, acknowledge that in today’s world, she’s in the business of a new kind of luxury item. As the buyer, Hummel has the challenge of balancing Berliner’s “advanced taste” with their often incongruent budget. With this in mind, Hummel has an open door browsing policy, meaning soda is the kind of place you can easily spend an hour in— even if you have no intention of fronting 25 Euro for your favorite mag.

That being said, soda is a still a business, one whose success relies on curating stock which will actually sell. Therefore, it’s Hummel’s job to know what Berliners want before they know it themselves. As a result, she’s curated one of the most interesting collections of publications available in stores; soda is a treasure trove of rare finds, limited editions and never-before-seen publications. In an effort to indulge in our own print fetish, we asked the magazine queen herself to compile a selection of the most unique items in stock.

A still from Useful Photography #013 by KesselsKramer, Hummel’s favourite book in the shop.

SEASON

Season is a hybrid between a fashion magazine and sports zine, dedicated to creatively showcasing female football culture. The biannual publication was founded in London in 2016 and prides itself on providing a platform for women in modern football culture to share their stories, opinions and style.

AGAPORNIS

Agapornis is a biannual magazine born in Spain exploring the interplay between visual culture, fashion and love for our furry friends. Beyond creating an aesthetically and textually engaging mag, they also dedicate a portion of each edition to showcasing an organization that promotes animal welfare.

BADLAND

Badland is a super fresh independent mag based out of Berlin, dedicated to Balkan art, fashion and photography. With the first edition launched in September 2017, Badland’s director (with Balkan roots) Rafaela Kacunic is picking up immediate acclaim.

PUSS PUSS

Puss Puss is exactly what it sounds like: a lifestyle publication focusing on culture, fashion, music and art— “with a feline twist”. Puss Puss has featured heaps of high profile artists, musicians, actors with cats, most notably Chloe Sevigny, Ai Wei Wei, Juergen Teller and Tyler the Creator.

AMBROSIA

Ambrosia is an American magazine that “eats its way” through a city per issue; their most recent locale was Mexico City. A hodgepodge of photo essays, recipes, and interviews, Ambrosia captures the spirit of its designated locations by exploring culinary traditions.

OPENHOUSE

Openhouse is a biannual magazine about creative people who open their private spaces to the public, in the name of hosting events related to art, design and gastronomy. The mag also serves as a guide to unique cultural experiences and secret hotspots around the globe. It was launched by a Barcelona-based couple who open their home four times a year for photo exhibitions.

FATHERS

This aptly titled Polish magazine is dedicated to all matters paternal. The beautifully designed quarterly mag explores the concept of fathers and fatherhood through photo essays, interviews, reports and travel journals.

PLEASURE GARDEN

This large-format, London-based mag takes inspiration from the pleasure gardens of 18th century London. The magazine explores the garden as means of escape— in art, music, fashion, society and sex.

ROMANCE JOURNAL

Romance Journal is the latest creative venture of design studio RoAndCo. The large format publication explores a state of feeling through the eyes of 10 creative women. The latest edition, “The Resistance Issue”, centers on the intersection of art, activism, empathy and community. 

DOG

Dog is an incredibly stylish lifestyle magazine about — you guessed it — dogs and their owners. This flawlessly curated mag focuses on a different breed in each issue. The latest, Dalmatian, features a series of essays inspired by the cover boy’s coat, which explore the idea of “markings”.

You can find all of these publications and countless more on the shelves of soda Berlin.

 

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