Modern looks are combined with classic pieces at Hamburg’s most progressive furniture stores. We visit three boutiques offering a wealth of inspiration and pieces to satisfy all your interior design needs
In Hamburg an innovative breed of homeware stores has been introducing clever, feel-good design, mixing old and new for a modern-classic look. Take Ulla Jahn’s boutique, Func, for example. For a long time Jahn collected one-off pieces of furniture for her home. Finding that she was unable to accommodate the wide selection, she opened a shop. Here customers quickly appreciated her flair for matching the right piece with the right person, and entrusted her with important decisions over furnishing their homes.
At Func you will typically come across 20th-century designs that were known for their functional purpose before coming into their own as visually spectacular pieces
Six years on, Func on Kaiser-Wilhelm-Strasse is firmly on the city’s design radar. Jahn describes it as a furniture gallery, and it’s certainly a space in which every piece is strictly an original. Terms such as ‘reproduction’, ‘re-edition’ and ‘replica’ are prohibited here. ‘It’s about pieces that were purely functional at their first time of usage, such as workers’ stools or tool cabinets,’ says Jahn. ‘These industrial antiques often get a second life in modern homes or offices today.’
At Func you will typically come across 20th-century designs that were known for their functional purpose before coming into their own as visually spectacular pieces. ‘Functional is a school of thought in 20th-century design,’ says Jahn. She explains that from the Bauhaus movement to the mid-century modern styles of the 30s to the 50s, designers often followed a modernist ethos known as ‘form follows function’, working with new materials and newly developed methods of construction and production. In many cases, she says, ‘they ended up with truly progressive and really beautiful designs’. In Func the range of such styles might include coloured plastic chairs by Charles and Ray Eames and pieces by Robert Wagner Chemnitz, also known as Rowac. Jahn recently sourced some impressive Rowac pieces for a client, two of just five tables that were known about in collecting circles.
Over in the north of Hamburg, Die Wäscherei is so called because it was initially housed in an old laundry. It subsequently moved to a huge space on Mexikoring and here it offers a carefully curated selection of furniture and fashion as well as flowers, books and music. There is also a strikingly devised restaurant. The store’s Sven Weedermann explains that ‘the space is 8,000 square metres of a special, feel-good atmosphere,’ adding that it is also home to outdoor terraces and an exclusive Timothy Oulton flagship, with eight room sets showcasing the British designer’s handmade furniture.
Die Wäscherei is conceived around a clever visual concept of room sets that individually showcase specific design ideas. Brands sold in the store are grouped to maximise a particular style, colour palette or craft technique, helping to give customers inspiration for their own homes. ‘Our range is continually being developed,’ says Weedermann. ‘We don’t have a rigid product line but an idea and a vision that we want to convey to our customers, with interesting and special products.’ Consequently there is a fun, family vibe that makes a relaxing contrast to the more formal atmosphere that often characterises design stores. In addition, Die Wäscherei stages a large number of lively events. At weekends DJ sessions take place, food and drinks are served and sales assistants wear fancy-dress costumes.
In the Schanzenviertel district, Human Empire is another impressive boutique, founded by a design studio of the same name. The team’s aim is to make life at home – or in the office – more beautiful, and in this appealing store visitors will find everything from home accessories and textiles to fashion, as well as an expertly curated selection of prints and posters. The team has a real enthusiasm for design objects of all kinds and a penchant for Scandinavian style, and hopes to pass this on to its clients. Its roster of brands includes those they think of as classics – including House Doctor and Bloomingville – alongside new discoveries. Look out for ceramics by Danish label Studio Arhoj, and quirky accessories from Swedish brand Fine Little Day that adults and children will love.
There are, of course, many differences in the looks and displays of these three retailers, yet ultimately each seeks to promote what Jahn describes as ‘old/new’ styling, finding a particular piece that will work in a client’s home alongside their other furnishings. ‘Inherited furniture may look outdated until you combine it with modern pieces,’ she says. ‘In fashion,’ she adds ‘we learned to mix and match new and old, catwalk and flea market. Now we are taking the next step at home.’ Previously this type of styling was a personal quest achieved by those with interior design expertise and know-how, but today in Hamburg retailers have become hands-on in helping customers achieve this look for themselves