I was recently asked by TOAST to document my thoughts on Berlin during winter. I have lived in the German capital for just over two years now and being a native Scotsman I am used to inclement weather, nevertheless, little prepares one for that first icy gust that shrieks down Kotbusser Tor on a late autumn morning. That wind is the stark herald of the frozen months ahead.
I started scribbling notes on this piece while on an early trip to Porto and it reminded me that there are in fact alternatives to living in a city that spends half the year swathed in perennial gloom. Sipping a black coffee in the afternoon sun, listening to Atlantic waves smash against the Foz coastline I thought of my friends back in Berlin, no doubt shuffling towards the nearest U-Bahn station with little degree of envy.
There is undoubtedly a certain charm to Berlin during this period, it reminds me of Arthur Conan Doyle's description of late 19th century London, where a blanket of pea green fog permanently hovers over the city. Indeed, I take a certain relish in setting off with my camera along the wide boulevards of Prenzlauer Berg or the nooks and crannies of Neuklln, capturing the outline of a lonely figure or an S-Bahn train cutting a swathe through the fading light.
One thing that my friends often comment on when visiting is how quiet the streets are, and while I miss the bustle of London or New York, I am drawn to moments where the place seems hauntingly empty. On my return from Porto I was greeted by a frigid fog that from above transformed the metropolis into a glowing umber smear against the inky sky. I went to bed with the plan to rise early and shoot the photos that accompany this piece, thinking that I would walk along the dark walkways of the Landwehr Canal, capturing layers of cracked ice and the ethereal ripples caused by swans gliding beneath its bridges. Instead of being greeted by a typical murky sunrise, however, I was woken by light jutting through my bedroom window. Stepping out on to the street I squinted as it bounced off cobblestones and car bonnets. Every street corner and edge of wall seemed burnished and crystalized. Crunching my way through a light dusting of snow I spent the morning wandering around Neuklln, marveling at how different it appeared when briefly shone upon.
Words by Robbie Lawrence
Model wears theSoft Wool Lavinia Coat.