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  • Writer's pictureRachel Cockburn

9 emerging graphic trends from Berlin

As a graphic designer coming up with new concepts and searching for emerging trends for retail, I am used to looking out for exciting graphics. Here are some of the stand out pieces I saw in Berlin, November 2022 - there might be a few surprises here.

Photograph of a portrait format poster, with the title Cosmic Awakening, a list of artists, and date 10-13 Nov. The main image is a one-colour illustration of a globe rising into the sky from the sea, and mountains in the background.

This poster from an information board in the subway is lovely. The finish is what grabbed me - it’s a blue-grey metallic ink on white stock - but also the way the illustration is combining with the lettering, the interesting font, and the playful positioning of the letters across the space. Find out more about Cosmic Awakening here.

Photograph of 6 large promotional stickers on a washroom mirror, with the photographer partly visible in the reflection

I saw self-promo stickers everywhere in Berlin, and this washroom mirror is a lovely example of the mix of styles / purposes. I take inspiration from these in London too (usually on lamposts and street signs) - I like seeing what designers create without formal art direction, and it often fortells design trends too. Top left seems like a nod to ‘Funnybones’ - a 90s kids cartoon. Bottom left there’s gradient going on (coming back? Or left over from the last trend?) and super-simple MS word style text overlaid. Bottom middle there’s the tattoo punk baby angel - worth a closer look at the tattoos. Bottom right is really interesting, graphically - the placement of the titles, the digital water print, the black and white photography in the centre. There’s a collage of hands over face which feels fashion-y, and the sleek minimal icon on the top right sticker. Loads of inspiration here.

Photograph of three lines of shelves with 9 different copies of König magazine stacked up in rows. The covers are colourful and each show different scenes.

König Galerie is a really interesting space - a former church in a Brutalist style (like the Southbank / Hayward Gallery in London) converted into a free public art space. Their magazine is beautiful - and this array of covers from an illustrated nun to an ATM give the feel that anything goes.

Photograph of a small bottle of liquor 15% vol with the name Saure Pflaume Likor. The bottle contains orange liquid and has photos of plums on the label.

Everything feels different in another country, and it’s the small details like this that I find super interesting. This tiny bottle of liquor was by the checkouts in the supermarket, a less-than-one-euro last minute buy. The outlines around everything are a bit much (there is so much design going on in this tiny label) but I really like the little smiley with the bow tie!

Menu in gothic style lettering reads: Knödelduo, Käseknödel, Speckknödel, Cranberry-Ziegenkäseknödel, Grünkohlknödel, Leberknödel, Pilz-Toguknödel, Pilzsauce.

Blackletter / gothic script is something I saw all over the place in Berlin. It’s so rarely used in the UK, but I found it really interesting how it was kind of edgy there. There is a bit of history - according to Wikipedia, Hitler didn’t like it and so it went out of use in the 40s - so the use of it now feels rebellious and liberating. Here’s a menu from a pretty cool little restaurant I went to. It would be nice to see gothic fonts making a comeback in new design here in the UK.

Photograph of museum display showing two menus from Mitropa, a plate, fork, cup and jug with the Mitropa branding, and a small bill pad.

The mix of traumatic history and beautiful design everywhere is intoxicating. Here, I’ve photographed some of the graphic design and crockery from a station restaurant where spies identified people trying to move from East to West Berlin so they could detain them. The graphics are stunning. Circles, flat blocks of colour, stencil lettering, and a minimal colour palette.

Photograph of museum display of poster reading: Protest - Trommeln! GEGEN DAS BRUTALE VORGEHEN DER STAATSORGANE IN CHINA! In der KvU Mo-Sa 15-18 Uhr.

This photo is also from the Tränenpalast museum - a protest poster. What I love about it is the font and the print quality - it’s like a giant shop receipt. It feels really fresh and I can definitely see this style coming into use on music festival graphics in the next few years.

Photograph of approximately 150 second hand German books stacked and displayed on a wooden table.

A table of books from a second hand store is a bit of a treasure trove for me. One one level, it’s interesting to see what the shop owner has prioritised in the display - what they think will draw people in. And on another level, each of these book covers was painstakingly designed - they are all individually pieces of art. My favourites here are the 3 rows of hardback books at the back of the display. Every one has a different pattern on the cover and a neat little label with matching borders and the same colour palettes.

Photograph of a large poster displayed on a street board in a cobbled square. The board reads DEUTSCHE STAATSOPER and the poster has a white background, large black lettering, and a portrait of a white person with short curly hair in a circular frame in the centre.

Last but not least I want to share this classical music concert poster with you. The narrow landscape format is really striking, the placement of the lettering is beautiful, the font is exquisite, and heaps of white space and dramatic contrast in scale of the lettering made this poster demand my attention.

So to finish this post, here's a little recap on inspiration and things to try:
  • Revisit playful lettering positions - letters aren’t rotated, just the baseline is shifted (also lends itself nicely to motion designs)

  • Metallic ink on white stock

  • One colour print posters

  • Digital / surreal water print (try using in place of marble / gradient / terrazzo)

  • Black and white photography

  • Consistent branding with surprising feature images (see König covers)

  • Emoji art. There’s more and more work coming through that sees emojis as a central part of the work. We had the smiley in the 90s. I think this will continue to grow as a trend.

  • Blackletter / gothic script

  • Stencil-style lettering

  • Pixelated font (like shopping receipts)

  • Dramatic contrast in scale within one design piece

What do you think? Have you seen these styles out there and what did you make of them? Let me know at


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