In the mornings, Krumulus hosts a program where they read stories from books surrounded by its original illustrations in the gallery space
Krumulus Berlin: the history
«Growing up, my father read to me every night. He had taste, when I look back on the books, I can remember them, it was thirty to thirty-five years ago. When I had my first child, I read my picture books to him and was stunned by the memories and intensity that they brought to light. I found that others resonated with the sensation. Due to its nostalgic value, I became obsessed with finding picture books for my children. It turned into a passion for curation». Anna Morlinghaus’s introduction to books started in her early years. She went on to study Graphic Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts, Krakow where she spent her time learning old-printing techniques and brushing up on her photography skills. After graduating in 2006, Morlinghaus founded an Eastern European art gallery in Berlin but found the lifestyle incompatible once she conceived her first born. She left the commercial gallery scene and as her second child was on the way, her interest in opening a children’s bookstore grew. Once she conceived her third child, Krumulus was born. «I loved books, illustration, art and printing. I have an educational background in it and it made sense to put them together».
Krumulus, a family bookshop
Founded in 2014, Krumulus is a bookshop, exhibition space and printing workshop situated in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district. Founder Anna Morlinghaus says it was an act abiding by the philosophy behind their name. ‘Liebe Kleine Krummelus, lass mich niemals werden gruß’ (Oh my dearest little squiggle. Don’t let me grow any bigger) is the spell Pippi Longstocking and her friends recited at the end of their adventures. Taking the name from Pippi’s miracle-pill, Anna explains, «In the Longstocking book, the kids take a dried-up pea and make it fairylike. They believe in their game and imagination. There are qualities of being a kid that should not be lost like the curiosity and capacity for enthusiasm». Krumulus has been marked a children’s bookstore but Morlinghaus says a fitting term would be ‘family bookshop’ as the store caters to anyone who has an interest in literature. The space needed to offer an experience to their adult companions. The store harmonizes its workshops, exhibitions, and book curations to create an experience. When it comes to adults, they offer new-arrivals, books that have been published in the press or are translated. In the mornings, Krumulus hosts a program where they read stories from books surrounded by its original illustrations in the gallery space. The bookstore’s programs are designed with children in mind but they have seen adults attend workshops like their silk-screen printing classes. «Adults will come because they are interested in art or because they are illustrators». When displaying the books in-store, Morlinghaus shares that they have sections for genres like non-fiction, fiction and adult books. They do not categorize their books by age or gender because children can feel discouraged reading a book marked for someone younger or for the opposite sex, «those two methods are outdated». Krumulus offers books in English and German, but due to space restrictions, more English books are catered to adults. Their events are in German, but they have had French and Spanish events in the past and English reading class. The language is dependent on the person conducting it. «We used to have a multilingual member who did English reading classes but since she moved away, we have stopped». They take into account the pot of culture living in Berlin and tourists who visit.
Events hosted at Krumulus
In 2019, Krumulus hosted over three-hundred events in their space. The events include printing workshops, readings, concerts, book release parties, book presentations, courses for children where they can invent, illustrate, print, and bind books and stories. They host exhibitions on the history of writing, story reenactments and calligraphy classes. This is where the adult book selections come in handy, if they are not taking part in the events, they have time to flip through the books available in the store. Amongst their events, Krumulus is concerned with issues related to body diversity and climate change. «There are arrivals on climate books, but years ago there were none. It comes in waves as topics become imminent, publishers will release books about it. We do a table and window on this topic». Morlinghaus explains selecting books of this nature can be like walking on fire. Regarding climate books, they can be pessimistic and that is not the way to teach kids about our world. «It can be a challenge to write children’s books because you have to make topics palatable for children to understand». When it comes to sustainability in-store, Krumulus are weary but do not have the choice to be eco-friendly, «I create a selection of books but I cannot choose how books are produced. I cannot sell organically or fairly produced books as books are produced in China and exported. Books are wrapped in a plastic casing. The industry has not evolved. That being said, adult books have started to discontinue the use of plastic wrapping».
Due to the pandemic, events have had to slow down. Krumulus has built a community with their bookstore where their customers call in or write emails to ask for advice on recommendations on topics like diversity. Morlinghaus remains a traditionalist and does not see herself or the store opting for a digital platform. Instead of taking the virtual event route, the Krumulus team has refigured their newsletters to be informative. The newsletter’s latest topic covers anger, anger management, and the power of anger. «We realize having families at home with their kids has driven people to the brink of crisis. It is difficult to be pleasant with your children in stressful-situations. I have been reading on this topic and wanted to share my findings». When lockdowns eased and restrictions allowed for events, Krumulus experimented with structures before deciding to host events during an unpredictable time. As their events are aimed at kids, it became evident that keeping them socially-distanced was not possible. Krumulus had exhibitions for individual families. «We organized a campaign of events for families. You could reserve the space for your family for 1 or 2 hours where you could carry out our program on your accord». Krumulus has hosted four events this year. Looking to the future, the Morlinghaus is hopeful with plans for a post-pandemic world. Before opening Krumulus, Morlinghaus purchased an antique-children’s collection which she has not displayed yet. She is looking to place it in a room in the corridor of their store where there will be a reading room to accompany it.IMAGE GALLERY