The Listener is a fashion and design concept store on Stephanstrasse in the heart of Frankfurt. Specialising in modern, cutting-edge brands, it is helping to shake off outdated notions of Frankfurt as solely a city of commerce, and instead championing its diversity, creativity and style. ‘It’s not accidental that The Listener is based in Frankfurt,’ explain its founders. ‘It’s a place of contrasts: bankers, students, creatives, IT professionals and art lovers.’ In the multistorey shop, forward-looking labels including 3.1 Phillip Lim, Alexander Wang, Comme des Garçons, and Filling Pieces fill the rails.
Design House Stockholm
The Listener is one of a new generation of conceptual spaces that are pushing the boundaries of retail in the city, marking it out as an appealing place for creatives to both live and work. Design House Stockholm opened in the Neustadt district in 2010; an off-shoot of the brand’s flagship in the Swedish capital, the store distinguishes itself through the careful curation of both established and up-and-coming names. Founder Anders Färdig has a background in design and became aware of how so many products were never seen outside of a workshop. Consequently, Design House Stockholm was a platform for these pieces.
Färdig was drawn to Neustadt, he says, for its ‘mixture of historical and contemporary buildings, creativity and inspiring coffee shops, restaurants and galleries’. Here, the store has found an appreciative audience for the emerging design talent that it champions. ‘Our most successful product is a lamp designed by a Finnish man who at the time had just graduated from high school,’ explains Färdig. ‘Today Harri Koskinen is considered Finland’s best-known designer, and the Block Lamp is in the permanent collection of Moma in New York.’ Are there any designers that Färdig is excited about right now? ‘Two young designers in London have created a shelving unit, with brilliant attention to detail, and there is a chair with a plaited backrest by a Swedish designer. We’re also expanding our range of products for indoor and outdoor gardening, and have a new collection of colourful wool rugs and pouffes coming up.’
Founded in 2010 by Susanne Theissen, 2nd Home occupies 80 square metres and is furnished like a real apartment. Everything there is available to buy, from the art on the walls to the rugs on the floor. ‘The shop is in a local neighbourhood,’ explains Maike Hertel, who has managed 2nd Home since 2012. ‘No offices, no big streets – it’s kind of hidden. But after six years it is becoming more and more known.’
Covering a range of different interior styles from Scandinavian minimalism to quirky Parisian, the brands stocked by 2nd Home include the quintessentially British paint and wallpaper manufacturer Farrow & Ball, minimalist Nordic designer Muuto, innovative Danish design company Normann Copenhagen and furniture label Hay, which is also Danish. Recently these have been supplemented by a carefully chosen selection of clothing lines, such as Sessun, Second Female and Roberto Collina, and the jewellery brands Saskia Diez and Hortense. ‘Our customers are people of all kinds,’ Hertel explains. ‘Families looking for a new sofa, businesswomen looking for a new outfit. Teenage girls, older women. What they like is the atmosphere in the shop; it’s full of creativity and inspiration.’ Hertel’s opinion has become so sought-after that she extends her service to people’s homes. ‘I help them to decorate, to transfer the 2nd Home feeling to their own home. Sometimes I have to encourage them to be brave; paint the wall black, it will look terrific!’
What’s emerging is a retail scene that is wholly different from how it was 10 years ago, with shops that rival some of the best concept stores in Europe. ‘I think you have to offer a special kind of shopping experience these days,’ Hertel says. ‘People can buy almost everything online, but they cannot buy a feeling, an idea or an inspiration.’ This is something that 2nd Home gives its clientele in spades. As Färdig notes, ‘The city feels more alive, and this has attracted creatives to settle.’ It is this attention to detail, this investment in the customer experience, that is slowly but surely boosting Frankfurt’s status as a vibrant and inspiring place not only for people to visit, but also for designers to work in.