// text and photography by Marjolein den Hartog



One of my favourite shots that I took while living in Berlin is still that of the ‘Zierfische’ light ad. This pet shop ('Zierfische' is German for 'ornamental fish'.) was located at the corner of Frankfurter Tor and Karl-Marx-Allee, and it had already closed its doors for good by the time I took this photo. I love the old GDR-era style of typography (The sign dates back to 1957.), which really comes to the forefront well against the greyish stone façade that was typical for the socialist-style Karl-Marx-Allee. And the guy in the blue sweater running past (No, I didn’t ask him to run through the frame!) was a welcome present, although in hindsight I wish I didn’t have to ‘cut off’ part of his foot…

How delighted I was to see that the Berliner Buchstabenmuseum—dedicated to salvaging old signs and urban typography throughout the city—had been able to save the sign (complete with accompanying fishes). Now it's on display in their museum, along with the original sketches and a video interview with the sign’s designer. Although the Zierfische shop is now long gone—after over 50 years in business—a part of it that every former East Berliner must surely recognise is now at least in safe hands.

Marjolein den HartogComment