Over the weekend in Berlin, anyone young, creative, and interested in immersing themselves in contemporary culture headed to an abandoned car park in Neukölln for Reference Berlin – the debut event from PR agency Reference Studios that merged the worlds of art, fashion, and technology.
Despite it not being what you’d typically expect from an agency, founder and CEO Mumi Haiati has never been about following tradition. “I always thought of myself as more of a fashion curator than a PR person,” he tells us. “For Reference Berlin, I had the idea in mind to create something that would reflect the status quo of contemporary culture in all its facets.”
Working closely with 032c with the theme of ‘Working Out Loud’, the event was all about collaboration and bringing together names both big and small all under one roof. “I'm naturally curious about collaboration, there's great potential when different people and fields are brought together,” the founder explains. These creative partnerships saw Dazed 100 photographer and filmmaker Jordan Hemingway and Jan Heinrich explore drug culture for a new book on ecstasy, while Matt Lambert created a trio of visceral films for the launch of three new Comme des Garçons fragrances.
In the upper level, upcoming LA-based label Perfect Number created an interactive sculpture that invited guests to touch and mould it as they pleased, next to an Ikebana workshop space hosted by Alyx and an installation by Gentle Monster. Elsewhere, Isamaya Ffrench appeared in conversation with visual artists Fecal Matter (hosted by Cala) to discuss the future of technology. “Each participant showed something unique, surprising and absolutely different from the other,” Haiati adds.
“We built a platform on which they can collaborate with established fashion brands in an organic way, by bringing their unique talents to the table; Berlin feels like the place for that” – Mumi Haiati
While the event debuted in Berlin, the blueprint is one that can be applied in cities all over the world, providing a creative space for young communities to gather and immerse themselves in. “The festival is important for the creative community here as it functions not only as a networking event, but we actively brought local creatives to become part of it,” the founder muses. “We built a platform on which they can collaborate with established fashion brands in an organic way, by bringing their unique talents to the table; Berlin feels like the place for that.”
While Reference Berlin looked to the future, Haiati wants to remain firmly in the present for now and celebrate the success of the debut event. “Of course we have great ambitions – but for now, we're happy we smashed the first round, and are looking forward to the next one.”