The AMPELMANN company

The AMPELMANN company

A lot has happened between 1995 and today. Our history in a nutshell.

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Great freedom, grey on grey and bright colours today

The Tübingen designer Markus Heckhausen became an impassioned “new Berliner”, threw himself into the subculture art scene and watched what was going on. He took on the Ampelmännchen that had been thrown away, picking them up from the street with his own hands, and when necessary rescuing them from the yards of the road maintenance departments before they fell victim to the shredder. Together with Karl Peglau, the inventor of the Ampelmännchen, he succeeded in rescuing them.

Shop in the Hackesche Höfe at the time of opening
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Shop in the Hackesche Höfe today
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Shop in the Hackesche Höfe as it once was and today

Then everything happened really quickly: Heckhausen opened his first shop “in these beautiful courtyards” in the Hackescher Markt: a globally unique ensemble of buildings containing apartments and craft businesses in eight intercommunicating courtyards. For a long time AMPELMANN ran all its business in the Hackesche Höfe, with its head office, shop, office and warehouse in one. The first and original AMPELMANN shop is still there today. But let’s do things in the right order …

Facts and figures about AMPELMANN

1996

The first AMPELMANN products

Markus Heckhausen constructed the first AMPELMANN products, the red and green traffic light lamps, out of original traffic light glass. He had no sooner presented them to the public – in other words his friends and neighbours in Berlin-Mitte – before there was great interest. Including in the press.
1999

Success for the AMPELMANN products

The new distribution structures and the positioning of the brand made it necessary to select a new legal form: Markus Heckhausen founded AMPELMANN GmbH.
2001

Opening of the first shop

On the Ampelmännchen’s 40th birthday, AMPELMANN held a party and set up a display of the first 20 products featuring the Ampelmännchen. For this purpose, Markus Heckhausen rented the converted transformer building in the Hackesche Höfe, where he opened his first shop shortly afterwards.
2005

The 2000s

By presenting products in its own shop, AMPELMANN was perceived for the first time as a brand with an independent product range. Further locations soon followed: on Potsdamer Platz, near the Berlin Cathedral and on Gendarmenmarkt.
2007

AMPELMANN Restaurant

The AMPELMANN Restaurant opened its doors in Monbijou-Park. Since then, we have welcomed guests from Berlin and from all over the world, whom we spoil with both regional and international specialities.
2009

Karl Peglau still on board

Up to 2009: Even as the company grew, Karl Peglau still visited the office on a weekly basis, shaking hands with every employee and bringing in cakes, fruit and a good mood. He often brought his wife Hildegard with him too. He is greatly missed by all of those who knew him.
2016

20 years of AMPELMANN

Berlin Mitte has always been a trend-setting place. The AMPELMANN office is located in the heart of the district, and it has developed into a flourishing family company. Today there are around 150 staff members looking after the Ampelmännchen brand. 2016 we opened two new AMPELMANN shops (at the central train station in Berlin and in the ALEXA Shopping Mall) and we also celebrated our 20th anniversary.

Events in Germany, which like so many things were more concentrated in Berlin, shaped the future. In 2006, for example, the World Cup brought Germans from the East and West just as close together as they had been in the days after the Wall fell.

At AMPELMANN, we were naturally right in the first row of fans celebrating here in Berlin. We even developed our own special product range dedicated to the World Cup. Everywhere in Germany, in front of screens and televisions too, many people began to show a new sense of community and national pride, possibly for the first time ever. We were in tune with the times, and we still draw inspiration from this today. We felt the changes, and AMPELMANN was and still is a part of them.

Continuous development, innovative concepts and good ideas make AMPELMANN fans happy and lead the way to the future. As well as our in-house Design Team (today around 10 creative people from all over the world), our Marketing and the experience associated with the AMPELMANN Shops are becoming increasingly important.

AMPELMANN is still owner-managed today. Markus Heckhausen, the founder of the company and its CEO, sees the Ampelmännchen as historical figures, cultural assets which should be preserved and shared in their authentic form. So as a designer, he considers that aesthetics, sustainable manufacture and of course usefulness are important in all AMPELMANN products. “I pay great attention to quality”, Heckhausen emphasises, “and we try to work with producers from East Germany as often as possible. We owe it to the brand.”

Our philosophy

Our philosophy

Read more about the AMPELMANN team: Around 150 people from all over the world lovingly care for the Ampelmännchen, which nowadays stand for the whole of Berlin. Our team creates original, practical products and enjoyable experiences of Berlin for everyone.

Our philosophy