From the medieval architecture of its 12 Romanesque churches to the Gothic spires of its handsome 13th-century cathedral, the city of Cologne has a reputation for respecting tradition. But don’t let all the stained glass fool you. Cologne may honour its past, but it also embraces the present. In recent years the city has dusted off its traditional image and now boasts modern shopping centres and boutiques that cater to shoppers in search of contemporary finds. The vibrancy is particularly pronounced at the city’s home interiors shops: whether they are pieces that marry comfort with cutting-edge design or innovative interpretations of classics, Cologne has it covered.
Old world charm
Galeria Kaufhof is one of Europe’s largest department stores and is a world-leading example of a shopping emporium where history and modernity meet. Designed by the highly regarded German architect Wilhelm Kreis, the building was constructed in 1911. Its grand French-style exterior has aged well, making it even more alluring today and, as a company spokesman explains, ‘We have re-invented ourselves every day for more than 130 years.’
The mix of old and new is evident in the store’s vast homewares department where avant-garde design sits alongside classic country style. Knitted blankets from Marc O’Polo, the German clothing brand of Swedish heritage, add luxury to any sofa or bed. The incredibly soft blankets have a rustic pattern, yet their colours – lemon and electric orange – are vivid. As part of Galeria Home, the store’s own brand, old-fashioned plaid patterns are blown up and printed on to cotton throws.
Galeria Kaufhof’s time-keeping options are as sleekly edited as its other collections. Purists may opt for a classic Karlsson wall clock with oversized black numbers and dials while others may choose the Ooopsy Daisy rainbow-coloured clock. The store also stocks Ice Watch, a Belgian brand known for its playful designs. Its clocks resemble oversized wristwatches and are available in lime green, purple and tangerine.
Karstadt, another significant store, also has a wonderful selection of interiors and home accessories including brilliantly quirky lighting options from German company Näve. Aiming to add some fun to traditional Bavarian designs and motifs, its current designs include a metal and acrylic Moose lamp, and the humorous Jimmy the Mouse wooden garden light. For something truly eye-catching, consider an aluminum mesh table lamp from Bosco. One of its creations resembles a vase filled with cut flowers in gleaming silver metal.
Spirit of independence
Cologne’s small and independent traders are also worth seeking out. Interiors firm Michels offers a bespoke furniture service and can help you to find the perfect curtains and blinds to match. Lux 118 is a bed and sofa specialist located inside a four-storey Art Deco cube. FylDS, the Belgian luxury bed maker, has given Lux 118 exclusive rights to sell its products in Cologne including its world-renowned mattresses which contain three varieties of wool and flax. That mattress can be dressed up with accessories from the likes of Bassetti or Zucchi and, as Lux 118 ships around the world, customers can relax in style wherever they live.