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Berlin is in the midst of another run of indie stores opening. Here’s a look at some of the newest shops in town.
This story first appeared in the January 11, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Part carefully curated vintage shop, part bake shop-cafe, Sing Blackbird has neighborhood hipsters atwitter. The store took wing when birds of a feather Diana Durdic, a former engineer, and Tasha Arana, an ex-New Yorker and accessories designer who previously worked for LeSportSac, daydreamed of a few of their favorite things. Durdic had always wanted to open a cafe, while Arana’s wish was to open a vintage or antique shop. The two blended their concepts in Sing Blackbird, an unpretentious destination store.
On the fashion side: clothes from the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties — elegant as well as quirky — from Christian Dior to Benetton to H&M, at friendly prices to buy or trade.
11 Sanderstrasse, 12047
Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
It’s probably a good thing that Voo is located in a back courtyard on Oranienstrasse in Kreuzberg. For this neighborhood’s antigentrification autonomists tend to throw stones at anything that reeks ever so slightly of upmarket style. Voo is hardly chichi. Creative director Ingrid Junker and Voo owners Yasin Müjdeci and Hüseyin Kaan wisely left this former foundry largely as they found it: raw, with rough-hewn tables and simple racks.
On offer are cool but long-lasting duds and accessories for men, women and kids from brands including Henrik Vibskov, Damir Doma, Wood Wood, Don’t Shoot the Messengers, Pendleton, Twins for Peace and more.
24 Oranienstrasse, 10999
Monday-Thursday, 2-9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 2-10 p.m.
Designer Mischa Woeste, whose vibrant candy-colored line Smeilinener is good cheer in clothing form, is applying the do-it-yourself philosophy to her Happy Shop. She and her husband, Eghard, of architecture firm Fingerle & Woeste, built a shop from scratch on Berlin’s evolving Torstrasse.
Happy Shop, opening next week, is characterized by a theater-style system to allow racks, mannequins and dividers to be suspended from above and moved quickly; a roof terrace offers a sunny summer respite from shopping.
Along with Smeilinener, brands include Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Kitsune, Meadham Kirchhoff, Bernhard Willhelm, Camilla Skovgaard Topshop, Topman and Topshop beauty.
67 Torstrasse, 10119
10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Carolin Victoria Grüner’s Hamburg-based store CVG has been the home of emerging international brands for two years and now she has transplanted her concept to an up-and-coming street in Berlin. Located on Weinmeisterstrasse, where in the last 12 months multiple stores and hotels opened, CVG’s pop-up store will stick around until June.
Keeping in stride with CVG’s temporary nature is its construction-site interior style, with concrete flooring, exposed pipes, metal racks, wire hangers and stacked white-painted wooden trusses that serve as counters.
Thus, the only nonprovisional-looking feature in this 1,722-square-foot shop are the clothes. Camilla and Marc’s sequined disco tops, Willow’s black shift dresses, Smythe’s wool blazers and an entire rack filled with Clarissa Labin’s bright cable-knit sweaters, cardigans and tube-scarves are all contenders for an unlikely put-together look in Berlin.
2 Weinmeisterstrasse, 10178
Tuesday-Saturday, Noon-8 p.m.
Berlin is in the midst of another run of independent store openings, most of them waving the “concept store” banner.
In fact, some would say the city is so overrun with such stores that concept-oriented retailers like The Corner’s Josef Voelk have sworn off the moniker.
“We’re now calling The Corner a design rather than a concept store. The word is coming out of my ears — I can’t hear it anymore,” he lamented. Especially when “what most have in common is that there is no concept.”
On a more positive note, he suggested “a good concept store has to do with editing, and you have to almost curate it. It’s a reflection of the owner’s personality, and it takes work and a certain knowledge.”
With that in mind, here’s a roundup of some new concept stores worthy of the name.
Best of Germany
If there’s one safe bet in Berlin’s economy, it’s a steady, year-round stream of visitors. And along with the tourists come plenty of new boutique hotels, hostels and souvenir concept stores.
Best of Germany, which opened in November, caters to tourists of taste seeking just what this store’s name promises: the best of German products. Literature selections include Taschen’s coffee-table books, classics like Thomas Mann’s “Buddenbrooks” and the recently much-hyped read “Das Weisse Buch” by Berlin-based furniture-designer-turned-author Rafael Horzon. There is Klar’s curd soap, Hachez chocolate, thick-knit navy wool sweaters usually worn by German seamen and a number of traditional dark-wooden cuckoo clocks, handmade in the Black Forest, as well.
And while the focus isn’t exactly on fashion, one of Germany’s few true fashion personalities has already sold out in the store: In its first month open, Best of Germany sold three Karl Lagerfeld Steiff teddy bears, retailing at 990 euros, or $1,323, each.
Best of Germany
16 Rosa-Luxemburg-Strasse, 10178
Monday-Saturday, noon-8 p.m.
Private Aspects is more gallery and showroom than conventional boutique, and one that celebrates the subjective side of its assortment. A joint project among local fashion designer Anna von Griesheim, interior designer Stephan Sell and art historian Andreas Marx, Private Aspects is of dramatic proportions. Located in a landmark Twenties building, the almost-20-foot ceilings in the front room set off Suzusan Luminaire’s monumental ceiling lamp of shibori-dyed fabric, metal folding chairs from an erstwhile traveling Indian cinema and the space’s opening exhibition of photos by Stefan Koehler.
Several steps down is an intimate jewel box of a space lined with a honeycomb of about 50 small units that hold some of the owners’ favorite finds, like a DL & Co. candle in a Swarovski Elements-studded brass box specially made for (but never sold by) Harrods, or the signed and numbered series of dainty white paper shopping bags featuring drawings by Elisabeth von Treskow.
Private Aspects by Anna Von Griesheim
43 Emser Strasse, 10719
Tuesday-Friday, noon-6 p.m.
Saturday, noon-2 p.m.
The name of this shop, Achteinhalb, or “eight and a half,” gives a hint to its former fleeting history: it began as a series of pop-up stores each open for eight-and-a-half weeks, springing up seasonally in Frankfurt and Berlin.
Now, owners Silke Maurer and Raik Hölzel have put down roots in east Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg, offeringcollections from Berlin designers like Kilian Kerner, Ansoho, Michalsky, Esther Perbandt and Tiedeken, as well as music box sets and design books, espresso and wine.
42 Kollwitzstrasse, 10405
Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-7 p.m.