Another plan Bury wound up changing was the Think Tank itself, which was originally conceived together with her husband Bernd Kolb. “It seemed a pity that it was empty when the thinkers weren’t there,” she says. “So we thought, ‘Why not use it as a hotel?’ We opened in 2008.”
But perhaps the biggest sea change Bury experienced involved her life itself. Back when she was a student studying economics in Stuttgart, she was working at a major German company and realized that all the divisions there were fighting. Which lead to her long-term plan: “I wanted to be a communications diplomat. But to do that I had to learn the many disciplines of corporate life. So I moved to Hamburg to work in advertising, then London to work in corporate identity, then Monaco for organizing and events, and then Munich for PR. “ The result? “After all this I thought the last thing I ever want to do in my life is to work at a big corporation!”
But by 2005 it was Bury herself who needed inspiration. “I moved to Berlin,” she says. “It’s the most creative place in Germany. For what I love it’s the best place to be.” At the time that “love” still needed a fine point. Bury looked around and saw that money was buying superficial experiences, “like paying to shake a celebrity's hand,” she says. “I thought how could I create experiences that touch people? Marrakesh would be perfect because it’s very intense, it’s challenging for the outsider, inspiring, and provocative.”
Indeed, one of the people most inspired was Bury herself. “For the construction and renovation of AnaYela, we did everything with the local craftsman. I learned about their skills, but also their stories. They can’t send their kids to higher schools, their women can’t read or write. So I started bringing their goods back to Germany and people asked me for more of ‘these beautiful things with stories behind them.’ It sounds like an answer for the Moroccans, but they don’t know what the international market wants. I am not a designer but I can create a platform that brings young avant garde designers from all over the world and these local artisans together.”
And that’s exactly what Bury did in 2011, giving birth to the Abury Foundation (abury.net), which today brings international designers to local artisans in Morocco and Ecuador so they can both learn from each other, create a collection together, and then bring it to market, with 50 percent of the profits going into education projects in the local communities. “That’s what we do!” Bury says proudly, almost as if it’s all come out exactly as she’d planned.