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)
I thought today you may like to hear a little tale of a blogger with a vision. This is an inspirational journey that a small business owner embarked on based solely on her passion for decorating and determination to help others create beautiful spaces, the same spaces that she creates and is inspired by when she reads her favorite magazines and peruses the blogs of her fellow writers. Meet Jamie Meares, a blogger, decorator and new shop owner of Furbish in Raleigh, North Carolina. And when I say new, I mean it — she opened on November 21st!
I heard about Jamie’s work through Michelle Smith who took the time to write to me recently singing the praises of Furbish and this creative shop owner. Jamie authors the blog, I Suwannee, where she has been writing since January 2007. Through I Suwannee, she started working on e-decorating projects for her readers who were looking for help purchasing and arranging things in their homes. Jamie then did what few have the courage to, she left her full-time “stable” day job to take the ride of a lifetime – and threw herself straight into decorating full-time. Now think for a moment, you are Jamie, could you imagine yourself taking such a risk? It takes a lot to jump into a new career but when one feels the heart strings pulling, and you suddenly find yourself surrounded by clients asking you to jump ship to work with them instead, well I assume the answer is obvious. This is what I find so encouraging, though it is risky and not for everyone, but if an opportunity presents itself in a field of work that you’ve dreamed of entering, then why not?
And her success story continues – she decided Raleigh needed a little more of her design sensibility in their city since her clients requested furniture and accessories that were not of the mainstream variety, rather those that came from the larger, more affluent design hubs like New York and Atlanta. And this is where we will begin my interview with Jamie, she’ll be telling you more about her shop and decorating practice…
Holly: So Jamie, tell everyone what your store is called and what ultimately made you open it?
Jamie: My shop is called Furbish and I decided to open it to fill a niche in Raleigh for the younger set who wants one-of-a-kind painted furniture that’s a little more sexy and edgy that what was currently being offered here (think cottage, shabby chic, distressed white beach house pieces — that’s about all there was).
Holly: Many shop owners I’ve met can trace their shop ownership dreams all the way back to their front year lemonade stands… have you always wanted to have a store too?
Jamie: Yes! I’d always had a dream to open a little store, so the time was right – I found the perfect building with a great, sunny, window-lined upstairs for retail, and a huge basement for a workshop/storage for my furniture.
Holly: When someone visits Furbish, what can they expect to find?
Jamie: I’ve filled the store with my favorite vintage pieces of furniture, new accessories and lighting, artwork from a local painter, my collection of ‘treasures’ accumulated from years of thrifting, ebaying, etc. For example, lots of vintage decanters, kilim rugs, floral dishes, retro glassware, pillows made from vintage fabric. Rowdy, my schnauzer, works with me and he has a select offering of locally made dog collars he oversees.
Holly: And you are a decorator, can you explain how this works?
Jamie: I also offering decorating services out of the store, and that’s done really well. I have my desk right out in the middle of the retail space, with big inspiration boards hanging behind it – and I think it makes approaching an interior decorator, something a lot of my customers would never consider, to be a much more attainable, approachable thing… They’ll sit down at my desk and we’ll talk through an issue they’re having and bam! they’re working with a decorator.
Holly: That is a very clever marketing strategy! I like it! What do you charge for your services?
Jamie: My rates are very affordable – $75 per hour, and I’ll come over and do in-home consultations for just 1 hour. I’ve had lots of boyfriends and husbands buying gift certificates for this service for Christmas. Sometimes ladies just like to have a second pair of eyes to help size a room up, offer suggestions, move stuff around – and it’s pretty amazing what we can accomplish in as little as one hour together in their home.
Holly: I also heard about your plans to teach classes in-store, can you tell us more about this?
Jamie: Yes, that’s right — I also plan to teach a class once a month in the store. We started last week with Tablescapes a la David Hicks style, and that was lots of fun. It got ladies in the store shopping, and I got a few new decorating clients.
Holly: Congratulations on transforming a dream into your reality — your story is an inspiration to many and I wish you a happy and successful 2010, and thank you so much for visiting all of us today on decor8. :)
(images: jamie meares)
Would you like to take a little studio tour with me for a moment? You will enjoy it, I promise. This is the new studio space of a talented friend in Boston, Fernanda Bourlet, a native of Buenos Aires with a sensibility for all things modern, natural, neutral and of course with a nod to her culture and relaxed lifestyle in Argentina. She recently moved from a few blocks over to this open space in the South End on Thayer Street and spent a month renovating it from top to bottom — literally speaking. She painted the floors, had to completely rewire the place with electricity, install new HVAC ducts, you name it – this space was born out of love and a lot of hard work! Not to mention what you see IN the space — most of it, with the exception of furniture some props and of course vintage finds, was designed and hand crafted by Fernanda and her team of makers based in Boston. See the pendants below with the lovely layers? I plan to buy one or two when I move for my home and she will ship to Germany so yay! for that. Are they not gorgeous?
I own several beautiful items from her line, Simplemente Blanco, and I cherish them all. From hard carved soaps and soap petals to bath salts, pillows, lighting, curtains, textiles, Fernanda designs only the best and the prices reflect her passion for making beautiful things accessible — while you may pay a bit more for a pillow than you would, say, at a major retailer, her items are still affordable given all that is involved in producing them locally.
When I spend a week at the Liberty Hotel in Boston over the summer, I noticed several of her pillows on the sofas in their lobby. I remember glancing down thinking that the pillow was so beautiful and somehow familiar to me. I flipped it over to see the Simplemente Blanco label and thought, “But of course”. I think that with the attention being more on handmade, beautifully made and of course, made locally that anyone would love and appreciate her line. Fernanda is a truly special, magical kind of lady and her products reflect who she is – she is very genuine and warm at heart. Fernanda’s home and products have been featured in many magazines and her collection is sold at fine retailers in the U.S. and Canada and someday here in Germany when I open a shop!
(images: simplemente blanco)
It is time for another gorgeous shop tour with tons of photos with many little things to study! Ready to take a moment out of your busy day to go on a little shopping trip with me? Today you’ll meet Allison Jones, owner of Lark in Daylesford, a small country town in Australia near Melbourne. Allison opened up shop only one month ago and so this is an exclusive peek at her gorgeous wares. Allison selected her shop name because, “It means joy, fun, a happy song. It’s a very light-hearted word. Also my baby boy was always waking up so early, so I was forced into becoming a Lark even though I am naturally a Night Owl!”, she says.
Lark carries their our own range of knitted toys and handmade accessories, plus homewares, stationery, totes, t-shirts and paper products. When I look at her shop it almost reminds me of a blog brought to life because she carries so many independent brands that you wouldn’t typically find if you were out buying at a trade show. This makes the whole Lark experience for someone living in Daylesford so very unique. For example you can find art prints by London’s Belle & Boo. In addition to small companies, Allison carries Japanese zakka and books, picnic sets from Danish label Rice, handmade children’s clothing, craft kits, zines and handcrafted products from Australian designers including Beci Orpin, Victoria Mason, Betty Jo, Little Shop Of and Twiglet. I asked Allison a few questions about her store and I’ve included her comments below with more deicious photographs.
Why did you open a storefront? We started with an online shop, but I felt that it was missing something, I really wanted to meet our customers and for them to see how all of the things that we choose could work together in a space. We moved to Daylesford as a young family three years ago and it’s where we live and work so I jumped at the chance to open a shop when an old factory building came up for lease in the centre of town. It looked a bit ugly but I had just returned from a trip to Tokyo and been impressed by these amazing boutiques like the Jeu de Paumes shop and gallery, tucked away in unlikely buildings, so I knew I could make it look pretty. We could have opened our shop in the city rather than the country, but Melbourne already has so many amazing shops whereas here, people are surprised when they come across us, we’re like a huge burst of colour and craftiness, a fresh, young shop that you would not perhaps expect in a small country town. And Daylesford is a favourite weekend destination for people from the city because of its mineral spas and beautiful scenery, so we do get a lot of visitors coming through anyway.
What feelings would you like for your customers to have when they enter Lark? I hope that visitors feel welcome, surprised, a little excited, nostalgic and happy.
Do you have any perks to lure in new customers and to keep current ones? We have a store newsletter, shopping nights and free goodie bags to tempt customers. We also run a fundraising scheme with our local creche. But mostly customers return because we always have fresh new things to entice them!
Ummm a creche? What is that? Oh, it’s a community childcare centre or kindergarten! We have a great one locally, and whenever the parents come into the shop and buy something the centre gets a percentage.
What future plans do you have for Lark? I would really love to open a cute tea shop inside Lark, serving classic Australian cakes like lamingtons, yoyos, and lots of different slices inspired by the CWA (Country Women’s Association). But I think we will need bigger premises for this!
Do you also have an online shop? Yes, right here.
How do you find the products that you carry? I organise a local makers’ market, so I have a lot of contact with crafters and makers from our area, there are some very talented people around here. The Australian website Made It is also a great source. When I want to look further afield, my main inspiration comes from blogs, Etsy, and my travels around Europe and Japan.
Are you accepting new artists and designers and if so, if someone reading has a product that may fit your aesthetic, can they contact you? Certainly! Just this week I received in the mail a gorgeous brooch from a designer in Sydney who had read about our shop on my blog, and we are going to be stocking them very soon.
Thank you so much Allison for touring us of your exquisite and charming shop! All the best in your new business venture, I see a tea room in your future for sure. ;)
(photos: Rohan Anderson)