Travel across Europe and you’ll find few cities as renowned for modern design as Berlin. In 2005 UNESCO named it a City of Design, citing its social, economic and cultural achievements in the field. So how does this extensive design heritage map out onto the city today? There are five arts universities with 5,000 design students, over 150 museums and innumerable smaller art and design galleries. The German capital also has a rich network of independent shops and exhibition spaces that seek to highlight work by young and emerging designers. One such space is The Amazing Crocodile Design Store in Mitte, a bustling commercial quarter with a vibrant creative scene and many independent boutiques and businesses.
Before opening The Amazing Crocodile Design Store, founder Jana Kubischik had already dipped her toes into the pool of creative retail. Along with her sister-in-law she was the co-owner of Nanito, a colourful shop specialising in bold accessories and furniture for children. In 2010 Jana decided to close the business and follow her passion for interior design. As her work brought her to more and more trade fairs, Jana realised that she was discovering many beautiful products that she hadn’t seen being sold in Berlin. Given her previous retail experience, opening a design-led furniture and homewares store was a natural next move.
“I just choose products that I like, it’s intuitive,” explains Jana. Her approach to sourcing products is holistic; she gains inspiration from trips, magazines, Instagram, and elsewhere on the web, and as a result the brands she stocks are vibrantly diverse. Though they have a similarly developed understanding of colour and form, the designers come from all over Europe and work in notably unique styles. “I love the perspective of fresh European designers who dare to experiment. That’s why, in addition to established brands, I also sell new labels from France, Belgium, Holland and Great Britain.”
“There are two designers I’m very excited about at the moment. The first ones are Muller van Severen, a Belgian artist couple. They started their furniture design as an art practice, which they presented in an art gallery. Now they sell lamps, chairs, small tables, rocking chairs and more as part of a furniture collection by Valerie Objects. The other is a brand, Petite Friture from France, which works with a lot of different young designers. Their range is extraordinary; it’s bold and colourful and have a sense of humour about them that I like.”
After choosing her products, Jana takes great care in merchandising them. When you walk into the store, the first thing that jumps out at you is the abundance of colour, starting with a bold feature wall. “I wanted to paint one wall in a very special way to give us an identifying feature. I was inspired by the street artist Maser as well as Memphis design movement.” The shop layout is designed to be variable; Jana is always open to changing the colours and fittings, which allows her to match her shop surroundings to her ever-changing range of products. Another clever design element is the use of arrows in the shop – stamped on the floors and painted across the walls, they are placed to guide customers around the space.
Since its launch, The Amazing Crocodile Design Store has become a leading design destination for creative Berliners. As well as existing as a shop space, the boutique hosts regular exhibitions of up-and-coming designers. When visiting design fairs such as Dutch Design Week or London Design Fair, Jana noticed that she was meeting exceptionally talented designers who had developed products but could not produce them yet, or who had designed products that were still in the prototype stage. She wanted to help these young makers, so decided to present their work alongside her own range of products. She hosts regular exhibitions that draw design-lovers from all over the capital. “Berlin is a very creative city,” she explains. “People are very open to new things, to new design. I don’t think a shop like mine could have worked in many other cities in Germany. That’s why Berlin is the perfect city for us.”
Discover and shop The Amazing Crocodile Design Store.
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