Cult Shop: a cool temple of design in Berlin
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“It’s really a new kind of shopping experience,” says Emmanuel de Bayser of The Square, the Berlin-based fashion, art and lifestyle store he opened with his partner Josef Voelk in autumn last year. “It’s not like a department store where you want to leave because of all the merchandise. It’s not too in-your-face.”
Housed in a reconstructed 19th-century corner-building on Gendarmenmarkt square, a stone’s throw from the famous boulevard Unter den Linden, the concept store (which has a sister outpost in west Berlin) is a revamp of the couple’s cult fashion boutique The Corner, which opened in 2008 and drew celebrities from Beyoncé and Jay-Z to Karl Lagerfeld (“He was so curious and always asking questions,” recalls de Bayser). “We thought it was the right time to offer something different to our customers,” he says of the rebrand. “We wanted to create a rounded and sensual feeling in a space that was quite cold.”
De Bayser worked with Paris-based studio Pierre Augustin Rose on a space that feels like a cross between a gallery, a shop and an ultra-luxe apartment. Spread over three levels, the store invites customers to dwell. Clothing rails have been cleverly fitted into the curved walls, carrying high-end pieces by brands including Loro Piana, Celine and Bottega Veneta, as well as those by younger labels such as Coperni.
“We are not a niche shop for one type of customer,” says de Bayser. “We have Jil Sander for the gallery owner and Jacquemus for the younger customer; Gucci for the woman who wants to stand out and Dior for the woman who wants to be more ladylike.” It’s an assortment that reveals de Bayser’s “sharp eye”, says German entrepreneur and influencer Caro Daur. “His selection of fashion and lifestyle brands can’t be found anywhere else.”
“I try to concentrate on pieces that people can wear from one season to the next,” de Bayser continues. “That’s really the philosophy of the store.” Clothes are displayed on genderless mannequins where possible. “In the past few years we’ve been seeing more and more people shopping cross-category,” he adds. “It’s more practical for us and I think it’s more fun.”
For its design offering, a bronze figurative sculpture by Thomas Junghans (€11,000) sits alongside sinuous brown bouclé sofas by Pierre Augustin Rose. Cylindrical ivory-toned tables and glass vitrines are piled with coffee-table books, marijuana- and liquorice-scented candles by Loewe (from €78) and fragrances by new French perfume house Matière Première (€145 for 50ml). Upstairs, a lacquered oval dining table is laid with handpainted porcelain tableware by Ann Demeulemeester (plates from €13) and red linens (€35) by Venetian fabric designer Chiarastella Cattana. “We’ve created an atmosphere in which you can imagine yourself living,” says de Bayser. “A lot of new people arrive in Berlin who have to start fresh with a new apartment, so the idea was to have a complete lifestyle offering so they could do up their whole apartment – and buy some clothes and accessories too.”
For de Bayser, who comes from a long line of artists, collectors and art historians (his grandfather was a gallery owner in Paris, while his great-grandfather was the painter George Desvallières), curating homeware and interiors was a natural fit. “I was always surrounded by aesthetic [things],” he says. “I’ve always liked putting them together and trying to be challenged visually.” The result is a shopping destination worthy of Berlin’s coolest customers.