A Copenhagen retail fave makes its way to Berlin. By Loryn Hatch
Berlin has long been heralded as the epicenter of Western Europe's youth culture, a place where the under-30 set have a private cue to the next big art wave, the next big underground sound, the next big look. But more and more, the next-big-industry is tapping into this reservoir of cool, draining the areas that were once bastions of independent design and concepts with water-logged versions that often appeal to a larger, blander market. Take Mitte, the former Soviet-controlled center of Berlin that's laden with old-world character; though it still represents a bohemian population, it's also taken on the look of a a globalized outdoor mall, with generic corporate coffee and other mega-stores attempting to meld with the scenery.
But despite the changes, Berlin's independent scene is still flourishing in thrilling ways, continuing to attract an innovative, international crowd of artists, designers, and other visionaries hoping to preserve Berlin's progressive rep. The newest addition to the city's prosperous center is none other than WoodWood, a Copenhagen export with an eponymous high-end sportswear line, a selection of electric T-shirts and sneakers, and a sampling of international designers who fit the store's image of effortless attitude and the city's local idea of what's hip.
Owners Karl-Oskar Olsen, Brian SS Jensen, and Magnus Carstensen started off in 2002 with the first WoodWood shop, moving on to a second in 2005. Success came quickly with the development of their own label, sneaker designs for Adidas, a mini-collection for Fred Segal, and the ongoing accumulation of top brands. And so with a few great years behind them, the decision to open in Berlin came easy. "We like going to Berlin. It has an ever-changing atmosphere," says Karl-Oskar. "There was a morning we were sitting in this café in Mitte, and we knew the next WoodWood thing would happen right here." And "right here" turns out to be a few blocks away from Alexanderplatz on Rochestrasse.
WoodWood's fall/winter '06 collection
Infused with natural light and defined by a wide stair-case, the Berlin WoodWood has black-lacquered floors, sliding dressing-room doors sheathed in leather, and a number of painted quotes across the alabaster walls. However, the faintly austere appearance hardly denotes run-of-the-mill designs. Woodwood selects the most colorful and at times outrageous pieces for men and women by Nike, Commes des GarÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â§ons, Cheap Monday, Maharishi, Camilla Staerk, and Yazbukey—the kind of stuff that gives a playful context to the quirky collection of toys and elaborate mobiles that also punctuate the space (and make it hard to leave). "We are not afraid to surprise, both ourselves and our customer," says Karl-Oskar. "Just when people think they know us, we turn around and do it differently."
A Copenhagen retail fave makes its way to Berlin.