Today we’re all going to visit Hamburg, Germany to visit a lovely little shop that also functions online for those not living nearby. You may or may not have heard of this city before but if not it’s located an hour north of where I live and is close to the Danish border, near to the sea. It is commonly known for it’s fish market, gorgeous old town hall, and for being a popular media city along with it’s growing design scene. Lütt & Fien is a shop located in the Eppendorf district on Erikastrasse that owners, Ulrike Petri und Patrick Seegers, describe as a, “Typical, old and charming Hamburgian street, filled with special shops.”
Lütt & Fien, which opened in November 2008, carries toys, accessories and furniture for children and adults who are young at heart. Their offerings reflect a combination of things that they love — classic design from their own childhood and new designs from established and emerging independent artists and designers both near and far with an attention to quality, practical design and fair production methods.
I asked Ulrike and Patrick a few questions about their shop, so I’ll share those answers with you now. First of all, the name. What does it mean?
L & F: Lütt und Fien means small and fine in Plattdeutsch, a dialect of northern Germany. It is a play on words. It can mean our specific products are small and fine, or that we have fine things for small people.
And next I wondered what personally inspires them about living in Hamburg?
L & F: We are fascinated with the calm and sensitive soul of the original inhabitants of Hamburg. They possess the character of the harbor of Hamburg; the bridges, cutters and container ships; the old sailor stories from around the world; the odor of distant lands and the stiff breeze that always blows.
I also asked why they opened a shop, of course.
L & F: While taking our design courses we were preoccupied with this question: Do durable products have to be boring? Every classic design gives us the answer: NO, of course not! We, as trained designers, are always searching for functional, skillfully crafted solutions made with great material. What we are interested in is not a particular style. We find it more exciting to assemble things from different times and production backgrounds. We also look for rarities and special items, and focus on unconventional arrangements, like children do, and we don’t look for brand names or status symbols. The cultural quality of growing up with not much, but having long-lasting and aesthetically remarkable toys, is what we want to support with Lütt und Fien.
And when shopping I always want to know which lines are the most popular in a shop. Here’s what they had to say.
L & F: We offer many items from small traditional workshops, like Sirch, Lotte Sievers Hahn, Kösen and Feiler, just to name a few. We also provide products made by young designers, and our own developed brand, Lütt und Fien, which you can only buy from us.
I finally inquired as to how they want their customers to feel upon entering their shop as I think every shop owner should consider this.
L & F: We want to pass on to our customers the impression of clearness and openness, but simultaneously give them grounds for discovery and a closer look. That is the reason why we always decorate our shop windows with little stories or worlds. We have created a place where children and their parents (especially the grandparents) stand and are fascinated.
I love all of the wooden toys, which is quite common in Germany — you can find wooden toys in major department stores and small shops which I think is really nice because back in Boston most of the wooden toys I found were very expensive because they were mostly imports from Europe. Some of my favorite things include: The little kissing dolls available in red/white or blue/white, the Yoshitomo Nara dog on wheels (I want this and I don’t even have children), and all of the mini kitchen gadgets. When I visit Hamburg again I am going to visit this store and check out their district to see if I can spot some other fresh design stores to blog about. :)
A big thanks to the Lütt & Fien for visiting us here today — and if you are interested in something that you see on their website (it’s in German, sorry for that), you can always email them in English and see if they’ll ship it to where you live. (post AT luettundfien.de)
(images: Lütt und Fien)