Category Archives: History



In January 1969 the Spiegel Publishing Company and Spiegel Editorial Staff entered in a new Hamburg Company Headquarters (the 3rd in its history). Located in the old town of Hamburg Spiegel Publishing House  was one of Verner Panton’s most unique interior creations and one of the few that continue to exist today. Panton is considered one of Denmark’s most influential 20th-century furniture and interior designers. All the designs of this interior were his own; the colour scheme, lamps, textiles, wall claddings – only the furniture had to be imported from Knoll International. At that time Spiegel manager Hans Detlev Becker gave the order to fill the cold cover inside with warmth.

Unfortunately, the swimming pool for the employees in the basement (above) was completely destroyed in a fire and redesigned in the 1990’s. Swimming here would have been a psychedelic experience.

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Exterior. The “decorative extravaganzas” as an amalgamation of geometry, color, murals, glass and glimmering light.

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Above the hallway. The specially designed mirror lighting used on walls and ceilings was of major importance.

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Above the work area.

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Above the conference room – chairs by Eero Saarinen.

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Above the waiting room.

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Above and below the Spiegel canteen – wire chairs by Harry Bertoia.


The space resembled more like an avant-garde restaurant than a company canteen.

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Before their renovation in summer, 1998 canteen and snack bar were put under conservation of monuments and historic buildings.

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Above and below the snack bar.



Verner Panton (13 Feb 1926 – 5 Sept 1998) was a modest man who was crazy about design and has influenced many of today’s designers. Panton himself once said: “The main purpose of my work is to provoke people into using their imagination and make their surroundings more exciting.” He  spent little time in Denmark and many most of his celebrated works were realised abroad. He broke from the craft-based traditions of Scandinavian furniture-making and experimented with new materials and concept.




When I found this wonderful German typewriter on a dusty and messy shelf of a Bargain Corner shop in Swakopmund, I was excited. I thought it could be a perfect happy birthday present for my husband.

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This smart, deeply black metal office mechanical typewriter is an “Ideal C” model, manufactured by Seidel & Neumann in Dresen – Germany, 1917 circa. The typewriter has a universal keyboard with four rows. A lever on the left of the keyboard operated the carriage return and line spacing. The serial number 661786 is located under the carriage. My Ideal is still writing perfectly with its black ink tape.

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Karl Robert Bruno Naumann (below) was born 10 October 1844 in Dresden. He was a skilled and highly trained engineer travelling around Germany as a young 16yr old repair journeyman. He has improved his engineering skills along the way, even with clockmakers. Bruno founded his own company around 1868 in Dresden, Germany on a shoestring. At first, Bruno was concentrated like many small engineering firms on mechanical repairs and small manufacturing but later, he saw the huge potential in sewing machines and bicycles. By the turn of the century, the company decided to invest in the production of motorcycles and typewriters.

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After the phenomenal success of their “Ideal” model, which had four upgrades and their folding “Erika” typewriter, they also invented “Erika Picht” typewriter by Oscar Picht for blind people.

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The Seidel & Naumann Ideal typewriter had four model changes. Their folding Erika typewriter, named after Bruno Naumann’s granddaughter, was still a best seller. The Erika No1 was the first folding typewriter in the world. Other typewriters followed like the Bijou in 1925, the Electric and the Gloria.

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The Seidel & Naumann machines were used by the German Military in the 1930’s including the dreaded SS with a custom – made key which featured the “SS” symbol on the key number three. They say Hitler used a Seidel & Neumann typewriter. In addition to that, for many years Nazis hiding from justice used the number 18 in their clandestine communications. It was a code for Adolph Hitler. In the alphabet A=1 and H=8.


This is a picture of the factory before its destruction in the Dresden bombings and firestorm.


Above: this is the only copy of the giant Hamburg – Seidel & Neumann factory, that I have found. The chimneys burned black day and night producing thousands of machines 24 hours a day.


Above: the Erika portable typewriter. Here you can see just how portable the small machine was even aboard ship. Circa 1910 – 1930.


A vintage French advertising poster for Ideal typewriters.

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Above: “Bargain Corner” shop in Swakopmund that is where I bought the “Ideal C” typewriter. This place had a very particular atmosphere. It was a sort of a local Flea Market selling cheap African junk and memorabilia.



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The Namib Desert. A four wheel drive, long dusty roads and our mobile home for the following fifteen days.

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The Duwisib Castle is a historical monument situated in the heart of our 6,000-hectare farmland built in 1909, by Baron Captain Heinrich Von Wolf. With scenic views and camel thorn trees, it is no wonder the Baron decided to build his fortress at this special location.


Much of the raw materials used in the construction of the fort were imported from Germany. After landing at Lüderitz, the materials were transported by ox-wagon for over 600 mms through the Namib Desert. The castle consisting in 22 rooms.

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A frugal breakfast, early in the morning. Me and my husband were heading off on a self-drive camping adventure. We drove 4500 kilometers in two weeks. Our pop-up tent and the small camping table with the cotton checkered tablecloth, camp stove, plastic plates and cups. The caveat: just make sure you always stop and fill up whenever you can for fuel and drinking water because, once you leave the city, you leave the tarmac and you end up in the middle of a beautiful nowhere.

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Sossusvlei, Namibia’s famous highlight in the heart of the Namib Desert, is a huge clay pan, enclosed by giant sand dunes. Some of the most spectacular hills of sand are, at a height of 300 m, the highest and largest sand dunes in the world.


Wind continuously reshapes the patterns of the huge dunes of the Namib Desert. It timelessly forces the grains of sand on the flat windward slope upwards to the crest of the dune. Here they fall down in the wind shade. The leeward slope is therefore always considerably steeper than the windward side.  Below: it is me on the top of the “Dune 45” like a tightrope walker 300 meters high.

Below: at the top of the “Dune 45”, like a tightrope walker 300 meters high.

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Below: Sossusvlei Lodge. We just spent a night here. A real bed has been our reward after so much effort.

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Below: Welwitschia Mirabilis. Welwitschia was discovered by the Austrian botanist, explorer and medical doctor, Friedrich Welwitsch, in 1859 in the Namib Desert of southern Angola. This species is called “mirabilis”, which means marvellous in Latin. This plant can live up to 2,000 years.


Below: a local market.


After driving for three hours in the cocent sun, a short break was necessary with a good cold beer. A Tafel Beer of course. It is a fine quality, smooth tasting natural lager with a wholesome flavor and aroma, which makes it perfect for any occasion. This beer has its origins at Hansa Brewery in Swakopmund. Cheers then!!!!!

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In the vast arid space of Northern Namibia lies one of Southern Africa’s best loved wildlife sanctuaries: “Etosha National Park”. It is a unique place in Africa.


Zebras and springboks are scattered across the endless horizon, while the few waterholes attract endangered black rhinoceros, lions, elephants, giraffes and a large number of antelopes.

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Etosha, meaning “place of dry water”, is enclosing a huge, flat calcrete depression (or pan) of about 5 000 km². The pan itself contains water only after very good rains and sometimes for only a few days each year, but it is enough to stimulate the growth of a blue-green algae which lures thousands of flamingos.

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A hippie family from Netherland we met in Etosha Park. They told us that they had gone through the whole African continent on this battered Peugeot. They had two small children with them. Crazy people!

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Below: my African kitchen. I’m preparing lunch with avocados and a fruit salad. Light and juicy, and simply fantastic. We had lots of boxes full of food. The ice box made up for my cutting table.

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Like two temporary nomads we celebrated the same ceremony every night:  we pop up our military tent. We used an iron ladder to reach the jeep’s roof. Our tent was like a tiny dot in the luxuriant nature. The green mosquito net was not enough to protect us from African biting insects. The bed inside was made of a thin mattress with two pillows and a light duvet. The floor was hard on my back and the space was quite small for two adults, but sleeping under a star canopy was making you forget all discomforts.


On the way to Damaraland to find Namibia’s wildlife.

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Damaraland is the old apartheid name given to the region south of Kaokoland and north of the main road to Swakopmund.

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Above: Twyfelfontein Lodge.


In front of a roaring fire with our local friend and guide, Silvio, who is now running a very cozy restaurant at the lighthouse in Swakopmund with his wife Esbi.

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Above: on our way to Skeleton Coast we had to cross a dry river bed. My husband had to lower the tyres’ pressure in order to float over the deep sand. Our reliable Toyota never let us down.

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The Sunday picnic with Silvio and Esbi on the coast.

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The Skeleton Coast is named after the beached whales and seal bones which covered the shore area when the whaling industry was still active. It generates its fair share of “human bones” too…

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Skeletal shipwrecks caused by rocks offshore in the fog. More than a thousand vessels can be found along the coast!

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Good morning Africa! Sand’s everywhere and, under the scorching sun, water becomes the most precious element. It seems you have never enough. Are we too spoiled by our so called civilization?


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So you build a small town in the desert and bring in 300 Germans. Of course you need a bar.

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Kolmanskop had its own ice factory so in the bar you could get cold drinks like soda water and lemonade.


Already in those days a Dry Martini was a classic drink……like a Manhattan or a Tom Collins.

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But most probably the poor bartender just kept on handing over a beer. Even the Jägermeister wasn’t introduced until 1935…

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Kolmanskop ice factory just next to the shop owners house. Imagine this. A desert a hundred years ago with an ice factory…

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Electrical panel.

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In this room here below Hr Zirkler, the butcher, was hanging his meat.

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The butchery was one of the shops in the “Shopping Street”

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and it was neighbor to…

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…the bakery, Hr Brechlin was the baker. Once upon a time this house smelled of German baked bread…

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Here below the Kolmanskop Hospital. When you enter the hospital the feeling is strange and unmistakable.


It was a very modern hospital for those times, in fact it had the first x-ray machine of the southern hemisphere. The acquisition of an x-ray machine was not only motivated by concern of the people living in Kolmanskop but was also used to detect the smuggling of diamonds.

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When Kolmanskop finally was abandoned the machine was sent as a gift to Ovamboland who did all the hard work mining diamonds.


The Casino today is in a good shape and the visit to Kolmanskop starts here. The entrance hall is beautiful and from it you can go left into a tourist shop where even diamonds are sold. This is the only place where you can buy diamonds direct from Namdeb.

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The bowling alley looks almost the same and it is occasionally used even today.


The Namdeb management sometimes comes here for a game and then the bar opens up as well.

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In April 1908, August Stauch (here above), the railway station master at Grasplatz registered a 6 month prospecting claim of 10 km wide along a 24 km stretch of the Lüderitzbucht-Keetmanshoop railway line.


In May 1908, Zacharia Lewala, who had formerly worked as a coachman in Cape Town and/or on the Kimberley mines picked up a diamond on a stretch of the railway line on which he was working.  He reported it to his supervisor and the news was conveyed to Stauch –  (Here below Zacharia Lewala).


In September 1908 the German Colonial Government proclaimed the “Sperrgebiet” making a large territory along the coastline from the Oranje River all the way to 26 S and 1oo km from the coastline “Forbidden Land”.

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Rough diamonds.

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A diamond rush followed. In 1909 Stauch found the Idatal (named after Stauchs wife Ida), a valley where the desert winds made the diamonds visible. In the moonlight men were on their knees and hands picking diamonds from the surface. (Above local miners).


In 1909 mining also started at Kolmannskuppe. The place was named after a British transport driver, called Colman.


During a desert storm he managed to survive but had to abandon his ox wagon. His wagon, standing on a hill (kuppe) became a landmark, named Colmans Hill (Kolmannskuppe) and when a town was built next to the mine the old name was kept although it is actually built on another hill opposite the original Colmans Hill.

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Kolmanskop was built in this gem-rich land, in German colonial style, complete with all modern facilities, including a hospital, ballroom, casino, ice factory and sports center. Its tram and x-ray machine were the first in Africa, funded by the diamond wealth.


The Kasino. It was built in 1927 as the last building in the centre of Kolmanskop. It was used for many things. It was a big restaurant, it was a church, a theatre, a sports hall and many other activities took place hear.


The main hall was a sports hall and a theatre among other activities.

“The theatre sponsored visits of shows and operettas from overseas and a 8 – piece orchestra that played for all the formal dances as well as tea dances on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. All the ladies turned up in the latest fashions. The club served tea, coffee, beer and spirits while the orchestra played sweet music. Some couples did the tango or one step. The brave ones tried the Charleston”.  (Marianne Coleman, daughter of Ou Kat Coleman foreman at Kolmanskop)


This was the residence of the mining engineer Leonhard Kolle who stayed here with his family until 1935 when they moved to Oranjemund. A beautiful house with a huge veranda along the whole building. On the right hand side you see trees. This was not common in a desert town.


Of course there had to be a hospital in a wealthy and organised town such as Kolmanskop. The picture above shows the first hospital in Kolmanskop.


Some of the equipment used is shown in a small room in the ”Old Shop”.


Later on the hospital was enlarged to what it is today.


There were some 40 children in Kolmanskop. Of those 25-30 attended a school in Kolmanskop with classes up to grade 4. The picture above is from 1926. The teacher was Mrs Hussmann. She lived in a nice little house between the architect and the quarter master.


The shopping street – ”Kolmanskuppe Ladenstrasse”.

The town declined after World War I when the diamond-field slowly exhausted and was ultimately abandoned in 1954. The geological forces of the desert mean that tourists now walk through houses knee-deep in sand. Kolmanskop is popular with photographers and filmmakers for its settings of the desert sands’ reclaiming this once-thriving town.


Dust Devil is a 1993 horror film written and directed by Richard Stanley. The film was described as being like “Tarkovsky on acid” by Steve Beard of The Face.

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The King Is Alive (2000) is the fourth film to be done according to the Dogme95 rules. It is directed by Kristian Levring. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival.

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Samsara is a 2011 non-narrative documentary film, directed by Ron Fricke and produced by Mark Magidson. Samsara was filmed over four years in 25 countries around the world. It was shot in 70 mm format and output to digital format. The film premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival and received a limited release in August 2012.


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In 1919 the French painter Jacques Majorelle (1886-1962) took up residence in the Medina in Marrakech (then a French protectorate) with which he fell in love. Majorelle was the son of the Art Nouveau ébéniste of Nancy, Louis Majorelle. Though Majorelle’s gentlemanly orientalist watercolors are largely forgotten today (many are preserved in the villa’s collection), the gardens he created is his creative masterpiece.

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In 1922 he purchased a palm grove just outside Marrakech and in 1931 he commissioned architect Paul Sinoir to build him an Art-deco style workshop of astonishing modernity. He set out his primary living space on the first floor and made a vast artist’s studio on the ground floor to paint his huge decorative works.

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Fond of botany, he created a botanical garden around his villa structured around a long central pool, with a variety of over 1800 types of cacti, 400 species of palms and other rare varieties of the time. Different environments, planted with lush vegetation in which hundreds of birds nested.
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The garden is a living and evolving work of art made up of exotic plants and rare species that he brought back from his travels around the world: cactus, yuccas, water lilies, white water lilies, jasmines, bougainvilleas, palms, coconut trees, banana trees, bamboos…
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Embellished with fountains, ponds, water features, ceramic jars, avenues, and pergolas… This bold action revolutionized the way in which gardens were to be viewed.
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In 1937 the artist created an ultramarine blue that was both bright and intense: known as blue Majorelle, he used it to paint the walls of his workshop, and then the entire garden transforming it into a living tableau which he opened to the public in 1947.
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The power of the blue Majorelle is long lived and permeates the essence of what it means to live and see color in Marrakech.
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Following a car accident, Majorelle was repatriated to Paris where he died in 1962. The garden then fell into neglect. In 1980, Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent acquired the garden to save it from property developers and to bring it back to life.
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Following the death of Yves Saint Laurent in 2008, Pierre Bergé decided to donate the Jardin Majorelle to the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent.
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The Garden welcomes over 600,000 visitors each year, tourists and locals alike.
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Mr. Frédéric Mitterrand, in the presence of Mr. Pierre Bergé, placed a plaque engraved, “Maison des Illustres” (‘House of Honor’), at the gate of the Villa Oasis, where Mr. Yves Saint Laurent came and worked throughout his life.
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Yves Saint Laurent said “A visit to Marrakech was a great shock to me. This city taught me color”.



It took James and Karla Murray over eight years to make a photo series about little shops in New York. By now one third of these shops are closed. Their book is filled with photos of these bankrupt stores that represent nothing more than a vague memory. (Above VESUVIO BAKERY – Soho, 2004).


KATY’S CANDY STORE – In business from 1969 to 2007  – Brooklyn, 2004.         “I speak three languages: English, Spanish, and Motherfucker.” Katy Keyzer, the owner.


RALPH’S DISCOUNT CITY – In business from 1963 to 2007 – Manhattan, 2004.


ZIG ZAG RECORDS – Brooklyn, 2004.


M&G SOUL FOOD DINER – Harlem, 2006.


CLAREMONT LIQUORS  – The Bronx, 2004.


LENOX LOUNGE – Manhattan, 2004.


FILM CENTER CAFE – Manhattan 2001.


EMEY’S BICYCLES – Manhattan, 2003.


SMITH’S BAR – In business since 1954 – Manhattan, 2004.


IDEAL DINETTES – In business from 1953 to 2008 – Brooklyn, 2004.


IDEAL HOSIERY – Manhattan, 2004.




R & R SELF SERVICE – Brooklyn, 2006.


CLOVER DELICATESSEN – In business since 1948 – Manhattan, 2004.


STAR DECORATORS – Brooklyn, 2005.


OTTOMANELLI & SONS – In business since 1935 – Manhattan, 2005.


CHEYENNE DINER – In business from 1940 to 2008 – Manhattan, 2004.




YONAH SHIMMEL KNISH BAKERY – In business since 1910 – Manhattan, 2004.