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La Merceria {Toronto}

Ready to see some dreams put into action? This inspiring email just arrived so I had to share it, especially powerful for those of you dreaming of the day when you’ll hold a set of keys to a brick and mortar store of your very own. Sandra Rojas-Chinni had visions of starting her own store and turned them into reality with the recent opening of home design store (complete with espresso bar!) La Merceria located in Toronto, Canada.


Sandra had this to say, “Thank you Holly for being such a great source of inspiration. I actually wrote to you last year asking for career advice because I wanted to make a change in my life and your blog has inspired me so much and in many ways it helped me and my husband in creating our own business. We combined his passion for coffee and food with my love and experience in the product and design fields. It’s been a lot of work and sacrifice but seeing our dream come to reality is so rewarding and the response has been incredible. Many of the lines that we carry (such as Simplemente Blanco) I discovered by reading decor8, Thank-you again!”


How is that for inspiring? A couple going in on a shop together combining their talents to form a shop with beautiful things for the home and yummy treats for the tummy. If La Merceria had a Boston location, I doubt I’d ever leave. All this white space, warm wood tones, and subtle texture really clears the mind of stress and causes lots of creative ideas to take shape. I imagine having coffee here with a good friend, picking up some bath salts and a bar of lavender soap, then heading home for a relaxing soak while listening to a little Bebel Gilberto by candlelight. See what a good home store can do to a girl?

Congratulations Sandra, your shop is beautiful – thank you for the virtual store tour. :) For those of you based in Toronto or planning to visit there soon, La Merceria is located at 506 Adelaide Street west.

(images from la merceria)

Posted in Shop Tours on January 09, 2008
decor8 great.ly shop

Cupcake {Berlin}

How sweet it is! I have to introduce you to Cupcake in Berlin, I hope that if you’re ever there you’ll seek it out and support this small business because though it may have nothing to do with shopping for interior products, cupcakes are quite delicious to eat and this shop makes a great resting place while you’re out and about. Plus Cupcake is darling inside and no one likes breaking in well designed places more than me. Okay, you too. :)


And Berlin isn’t America – a cupcake is a hard little delight to find in northern Germany, you just can’t find them dotted around there as you can here. They aren’t in bakeries, or grocery stores, and they don’t have dedicated little cupcake shops all over as some American cities do – until now. That’s what makes this shop in Berlin so very sweet – they’re truly unique as they are Berlin’s first! I asked the owners, American Dawn Nelson and her boyfriend Daniel Baderif (who runs his record label out of the office in the shop) if they could send over some photos for your enjoyment, so here’s a peek into a very tasty place. Cupcake is located in the heart of Friedrichshain, a short stroll away from the last remaining section of the Berlin Wall.


In regards to the design of the shop, Dawn said that they started out with “All these ideas for the decor. first it was vintage 50′s funiture, then streamlined 70′s, and then finally this is what we came up with”. They wanted something minimal, clean and fresh with the focus on the cupcakes, so this is the result. I think it reminds me of a cupcake shop Audrey Hepburn would have rested her tired feet after a day of shopping at Tiffany’s. If Tiffany’s were in Stockholm. It really reminds me of a Swedish bakery for some reason with a touch of classic Hollywood. And the light fixtures are 2 Die 4, aren’t they?

Cupcake, Krossener Str. 12, Friedrichshain, Berlin

If you’d like to know more about Dawn and her background, click here to read a great interview that I Heart Berlin had with her – it’s in English – and there’s a video as well. It was there that I learned Katie Holmes frequented Cupcake while she was with Tom Cruise in Berlin filming. Too cute.

(images from cupcake)

Posted in Shop Tours, shopping, small business, travel on December 13, 2007

RaniPink {Taste of Marrakesh in Germany}

For a moment you may have had to glance up at the header to be sure that you’d landed on the right blog. No, this really isn’t Maryam over at My Marrakesh. It’s me, Holly. But given all the Moroccan influences in design, I have to share with you a lovely shop that I found recently with the most beautiful ethnic prints and patterns. Ready for another mini store tour? Come along with me for a taste of Marrakesh in Germany.


This shop is called RaniPink and it’s located in Hannover where (as most of you know) I just returned after spending two months. Owned by German born Petra Hassan, who grew up in Munich, she married a charming man born in Kuwait with roots in Palestine and now they live and work in Hannover. It is there in north Germany where I had the chance, along with my husband, to meet up in her spacious – the ceilings are maybe 15 ft high – two room store that doubles as her workshop. Petra designs and sews in between customers, creating clothings and interior accessories. She has racks and stacks of jaw dropping textiles that you can select and she’ll custom design almost anything you want.

This is Petra, self portrait, obviously. She definitely doesn’t dress like the typical German which is one of the many reasons why I like her so much, she doesn’t follow the crowd – but follows her heart instead. I love her leg warmers!


To keep her shop fresh and interesting, Petra paints the walls a new and exciting color a few times per year. When I was there, it was turquoise. Now it’s violet. Inspired by the Moroccan design in a very big way, and I must add long before it was so “mainstream”, her store is like stepping into Marrakesh without having to purchase a plane ticket. When we met with her, we were greeted with a feast for all the senses, beautiful music from North Africa, a warm hug and smile, the scent of spices, and the most delicious Moroccan fresh mint tea I’d ever tasted.


Petra is a fashion and accessories designer, her work is intricate and beautiful, colorful and full of the passion that seems to run from her heart, through the needle, and into the fabrics she sews together. She loves her work, I mean genuinely loves it, and it shows as you stroll through her shop/atelier. You can feel it as you look around. There’s this very positive energy in the air, it’s great. I left feeling completely motivated to work on some of my own projects, which is always a sure sign that I’d been in good company.

Petra was on her way to Marrakesh for vacation when we met up, but she is back in Hannover now with lots of pretty things collected from her trip – like these supple leather beaded slippers. You have to visit her store if you live in this part of the world – it’s so transporting, colorful, and inviting.

Has Petra always loved ethnic design? Yes, and there’s proof on her workshop table where she keeps hundreds of sequins, spools of thread, tassels, and gorgeous beads, some that have many years of history with her. She pointed to beads that she’s had since childhood – that’s how long she’s be fascinated with faraway places and beautiful things. This lady truly follows her heart and is doing what she loves. Now how inspiring is that?

Petra thank you so much for sending these beautiful images, sharing tea with Thorsten and I, and for being the special lady that you are.

RaniPink Store — Oeltzenstr. 2 — Hannover, Germany — Tel. 0511-3746711

(images from petra hassan)

Posted in Shop Tours, shopping, travel on December 12, 2007

Raumformplan {Germany}

I hope you’re ready to learn about some clever new products out of Europe and take a little shop tour with me to view them. The store we’ll be visiting together today is called Raumformplan, owned by Architect Janin Pr?pper pictured below, and it is located in Hannover (S?dstadt), Germany. These photos were taken when I visited Janin in her store last month.

This is Janin Pr?pper, Dipl. Ing. and shop owner of Raumformplan.

Janin is the most welcoming and sincere lady, very friendly, and I appreciate that she took a lot of time to show me around her space and introduce me to many great product lines. Janin is a very creative woman, she gives her store such a warmth through her arrangements, but she goes above and beyond in more ways than through careful displays. Janin offers her customers affordable design help. She’ll visit the home of her client and taking into consideration their needs and the size of their space, along with their budget, she’ll pull together a few options for them in CAD and present them with practical solutions.

Great light fixture in the window, don’t you think? It’s called “Orbit”
and is available in yellow or white. It arrived flat packed so you can arrange
the circles in any fashion, creating an orbit that is uniquely your own.

The best part about her consulting service is that she gives the client options – they can either purchase through her or on their own – she’ll suggest products, carpenters, painters, and everything that they need to complete the project. Her service is under 300,- Euro per room, which is very affordable considering the standard rates most designers and architects charge. Janin does this because she is focused on providing exceptional customer service and since Raumformplan is a design store, offering clients affordable help is quite useful to them. I viewed her portfolio and was blown away by her renderings – Janin does exceptional work. So if you live in northern Germany and you need a great Architect, do not hesitate to contact her.

I think this metal “oh deer” coat/accessories holder from Swiss company Pulpo is fantastic. You can order it in black and I think silver too, but white is my favorite. I wanted to take it with me, but sadly couldn’t fit another thing into my suitcase. Those cute animal felted keyfobs are from Parkhaus Berlin.
The same company carries the best felt collection, they have seat cushions for Eames chairs in a variety of gorgeous colors (shown above) for only 42,- Euros each. Below you can see more Parkhaus Berlin items made for the kitchen.

More great hooks with atlers from Pulpo, you can purchase
them for around $20 USD
right here.

In case you haven’t noticed, Raumformplan’s focus is on clean, modern design from mostly European designers, a good amount of them from Germany. She also likes to mix in some vintage pieces to warm up the look. I noticed a lot of metal and felt being used in new and exciting ways, such as felted keyfobs, placemats, and wrapped around candle jars (shown below, Janin makes the candle jar felted wraps herself, they are beautiful).


I just heard the great news that next year, this shop will relocate from S?dstadt over to the Lister Meile area to a larger storefront. This is exciting news, but I do love her current space because she really knew how to use the small space effectively. In the back is where she works on her design projects during times when the shop is quiet.


This shop also showcases art in a revolving gallery within these four walls. An artist is selected and given space throughout the shop to display their work for a period of time, and then new work arrives from another artist. A surprise to me, but I learned that it’s not a common practice yet for shops to also function as mini galleries in Germany, but it’s becoming more and more popular there just as it is here in America.

Multiholk? Birdhouses are from a company based in the UK called Wildlife Garden. You can also see a yellow one in front of the shop when you arrive. (Did you notice it in the 2nd image from the top?) The pillows are from a Hannover designer, Annette Meurer.

Towels (above) and pillows (below) by S Wert Design of Berlin.
The tea light on the shelf may look familiar to you, it’s by
Ingrid of YippieYeah.


If you’d like to inquire about any of the items you see, you can either visit the online shop (in German only), or you can contact Janin directly (mail AT raumformplan.de) because she speaks perfect English and can assist you in case your German is as bad as mine. It was so nice to be able to visit her store, I hope that you enjoyed this mini tour and some of the fresh new products out of Europe shown here.

Thank you Janin! :)

(images from holly becker for decor8)

Posted in Shop Tours, shopping, travel on December 11, 2007

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