Sunny day in Berlin-Kreuzberg, mid-September. Gibelin’s skilled guys, Valio and Tony, talk about the fruits of their labor and the new adventure “Kuker”. They have achieved a lot, but one thing remains: “We are still waiting for Popa (‘the priest’, TN), the singer of Oratnitza, to consecrate us.”
What motivated Gibelin to undertake the new project “Kuker” ?
Valentin: Dilyana did. She was the driving force behind the team. It was her idea and she pushed Tony and me to get the job done. We first talked about it in June when we argued way too publicly on a train about the logistics of selling embroidered T-shirts. We made a bit of a big scene.
Anton: “Kuker” was our reconciliation. It purified us spiritually. It led us through the nine circles of hell and through purgatory, and now we are ready for new challenges.
Valentin: We found the place very suddenly and unexpectedly. We were on vacation in Greece and we were about to climb a waterfall. On the way down from the waterfall, we were already sending documents and looking for reception in the Greek forests. We signed the lease without even having seen the premises personally.
Was it love at first sight? The place is such a cult. This is where the Gay Museum and, until recently, the Maze Club were located.
Valentin: We didn’t know about that at first. So it was a marriage out of convenience that turned into true love. We actually chose it because of its location in the Bergmannkiez and because of the rent. But we got surprised quickly after we moved in.
Anton: As soon as we unlocked, we saw the sign that said “Archive Schwules Museum”.
Valentin: And we got in touch with Maze very quickly. We had the idea to hold the after parties of “Kuker” there, but unfortunately the crisis ruined that plan too, as they had to close.
How did the two of you manage to completely renovate the place by yourself in about a month?
Valentin: We sacrificed some sleep and nerves and a few drops of blood, but in the end we succeeded. There was a lot to renovate. Unfortunately, in addition to the archive sign, we were also confronted with a lot of less great things when we first entered: from the window grille, which wasn’t particularly presentable, to a number of missing things. The process was easy though. Dilyana, as the head of the team, told us what we generally needed, and Tony and I bought supplies and got ourselves to work. Incidentally, we chose the color palette in harmony with four chairs that Dilyana had found on sale long before we’d rented the space. Tony and I adjusted everything else to fit them. Everything is now in the color “oak”. At this point I have to say that Tony was the main driver behind the renovation. He came up with both the bar counters and the lamp by the window.
Anton: I’m glad that all of my fingers are still in place. A lot of wood was sawn. Fortunately, we found a lot of material here on site, which saved us a lot of costs and searching. Apart from that, we bricked up a door and installed the lights, including some spotlights we bought from Maze. I’m also glad that I didn’t get an electric shock this time.
What’s new inside the space?
Anton: We painted the window frame which, as we said, was initially very unattractive, in this dark green that I really dig, it’s so German. And what I like most is the lamp next to the entrance. For me it is the eighth wonder of the world, because just hanging it up took us two hours. And it shines all right! We hung it up without testing it, and Valentin didn’t think it would work. Of course I was convinced all along that everything would be fine. We are just waiting for Popa of Oratnitza to consecrate us.
Has anything been kept from the original look?
Valentin: Apart from the floor, we kept the bathtub in the courtyard, from which we made an ensemble with the pallet furniture we made.
Anton: But we painted them pink. I emphasize pink, that is very important – our company color #ff0078 is something very special for us.
We call “Kuker” a multifunctional space. What does this mean and how did the redesign of the place make the concept a reality?
Valentin: Well, to save words, I’ll say it in German: It’s a Balkankulturaustauschausstellungsraum. (Laughs.)
Anton: It’s multifunctional because it’s suitable for exhibitions, shops and other events such as concerts, readings, screenings, etc. The interior design makes this possible thanks to these light, cute, easy-to-move hanging shelves. We can append or remove them as needed. There are also various pieces hanging at the reception that serve both as decoration and are for sale. And the most valuable element is of course the courtyard, where performances and installations take place.
Valentin: Even at this moment the space is multifunctional, without an event happening. On the right side is the shop where we’ve presented the goods, and on the left side is the exhibition “The Etudes of the Balkans”.
Tell us about the logo shelf. It’s multifunctional too.
Valentin: With great pleasure. Dilyana and I knew immediately who we were going to have make the logo. Fullmasters‘ Filip Boyadzhiev, who is also the creator of the Gibelin logo, gave us four options and we ended up going for the dynamic design. Apart from that, it was clear that we needed a shelf on which CDs, books and similar works of art could be displayed. We liked one in particular, but the custom furniture was a little out of our budget. So Tony and I decided that we should try to make a shelf that would be a central masterpiece in the room. After the third plan, based on a screenshot of the logo from a mobile phone, and two whole working days, this shelf was finally ready to present. The process was quite cathartic for us.
Anton: I’m also very satisfied by the result. Now we have a kuker in “Kuker”.
What’s coming up?
Anton: All kinds of new multi-genre events.
Valentin: As well as many new products. We’re trying not to get too packed so that the room can breathe. After all, we are aiming for the atmosphere of an exhibition room. So each piece is specially selected. We still have a lot more to show.
Anton: The online shop is coming soon, I’m working on it. It’s especially for the people from other cities who are interested in our products. Kuker.shop is the address.
Valentin: We’ll announce some events very soon. The next one will be the presentation of a bilingual book in German and Bulgarian. The cultural exchange that we love so much requires this multilingual format and we are delighted to be able to offer it. We are going for the bilingual experience, so to speak.