BERLIN — Just a few weeks after pulling the plug on the Berlin edition of Bread & Butter, Karl Heinz Müller, founder and managing director, is charging ahead on his newest Berlin venture: BBB Kraftwerk.
“This is not a trade show. It’s a monster,” declared Müller, who has been drumming up manufacturer support for the event scheduled for Jan. 26 to 27.
Nobody quite knows what BBB Kraftwerk is going to turn out to be, given its open game plan as giant business lounge, exclusive club, playground and stage where anything goes. And with so little time before its launch, BBB Kraftwerk is going to have a small debut. Müller expects 20 to 30 brands, including Levi’s, Adidas, Edwin, Nudie Jeans, Aem’kei, Drykorn, Redwing and Frau Becker, to “be creative” in about 235,000 square feet of unrenovated space in an abandoned power station — or kraftwerk, in German — in central Berlin.
“Especially with Christmas, a lot of companies said the time was just too damned short,” acknowledged Müller. “I’m sure July will be fantastic. Still, Kraftwerk will definitely happen in January, as an introduction.”
Müller anticipates a whirlwind of activity, including concerts, fashion shows, installations, art projects, an exhibit documenting five and a half years of Bread & Butter, restaurants, bars and lounges run by Berlin club and bar master Cookie and even an acrobat working a vertical rope from the heights of the power station as part of one T-shirt label’s presentation.
“Some say, ‘Wow, finally we can do something.’ Others want to do business, and business does happen when retailers get closer to the brand, the product, the image,” said Müller. “We want to show something new, a creative platform.” Given the space at hand, he said Kraftwerk will always be limited to about 100 to 150 participants.
Although B&B will rent the space, it will be responsible for bringing the building up to code. Müller has enlisted legendary Berlin club maker Dimitri Hegemann to develop the space. Next spring, Hegemann plans to reopen his famous Tresor nightclub, which closed years ago, at the Kraftwerk, along with an exhibition space for light installations by artists such as James Turrell and Olafur Eliasson.
This story first appeared in the December 21, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
To underline Bread & Butter’s commitment to Berlin, Müller took journalists on a tour of the company’s now five floors of office space in Mitte.
“Bread & Butter has become a label, and it’s not restricted to a place. But our home is Berlin, and we need to do something here. However, a weak show wouldn’t help,” said Müller. “Our intention is to do something good, and sometimes you have to knock something down in order to create something new.”