Shiny new look for Berlin’s legendary Monkey Bar
Urban, wild and inherently mercurial – the Monkey Bar at the 25h Hotel Berlin is just like the city it inhabits. Since opening, it has been the premium location for first-class drinks in a chilled atmosphere with a breathtaking view of Berlin. The legendary Rooftop Venue has now been redesigned by its creator, Bernd Aisslinger. The architect speaks with COMPANION about the process.
The bar of the 25h Hotel in Berlin is no longer just an absolute must for every tourist, but also the venue of choice for Berlin’s party people to strut their stuff. The Monkey Bar is perched high above the bustling Ku’damm as a small urban jungle to gaze down on the city and observe the wildlife populating Berlin Zoo. So as the apes swing from tree to tree down below, guests can sample one of the exquisitely mixed cocktails in the Monkey Bar after a stressful day at work, mingle with amiable guests or watch the bartenders, masters of their trade, at work.
Like the city it overlooks, the bar itself is always lively – especially since its stunning recent revamp. Werner Aisslinger, who created the Monkey Bar in 2016, also took charge of redesigning the premises. He is firmly convinced that the bar needs to reflect Berlin’s nature and remain constantly in motion. “The Monkey Bar is where you come to absorb the spirit of Berlin, this unique blend of laissez faire, openness and creativity”, the designer says. He perceives the redesign as a process of “embracing the specific location, exploring what sets it apart and discovering its character”. The artist and his team use this insight to develop leitmotifs for the redesign and to rearrange the space in a surprising way that brings its character to life.
The Monkey Bar is where you come to absorb the spirit of Berlin, this unique blend of laissez faire, openness and creativity.Werner Aisslinger
Naturally, the Monkey Bar’s unique location is among these leitmotifs and is reflected by Aisslinger and his team in the playful colour scheme. For the 55-year-old, the steps in the bar for people to sit in front of the sweeping windows are the most important structural element. They imbue the location with a unique vibe and create an ideal space to remain constantly in motion. “The inspiration did not come from outside, so from moods or associations with other places, but entirely from the extraordinary location between the zoo and City West, the architectural history, the geometry of the building and the determination to create something new and hitherto unseen. We want it to be unique, created entirely from scratch.” For Aisslinger, it is particularly important to take existing structures into account and to incorporate sustainable cycles into the interior design. Installed in the 25h Hotel, for instance, are original tiles from the Alexanderplatz underground station, and seemingly old objects are repurposed as lamps or decorative elements in the bar as well. Aisslinger’s work is continuously inspired by functionality and futuristic ideas, and his unusual furniture has already been exhibited in the museums of New York.
The redesign was also shaped by a series of artworks combining traditional and urban styles that act as additional eye-catchers. They now give the eponymous monkeys a very exclusive perch in the bar and aptly epitomise the decidedly wild side to its character. Although there is just as much to discover in the Monkey Bar as there is in the urban vista behind the window, the designer has not created a single work of art. “You might say that designers are ‘spatial DJs’ that remix elements into a holistic composition – the perfect collage is our goal!”, says Aisslinger to summarise his job. Anyone keen to convince themselves of his atmospheric flair can do so while sipping brand-new drink creations. After all, in the same way that Berlin’s permanent revolution flows into the design, the Monkey Bar menu is also reworked on a regular basis.