The Secret Behind Great Concept Stores?

  • During my recent stay in Berlin I visited one of the most interesting concept stores I’ve ever seen, called Supalife. Located in a side street of the Pappelallee in Prenzlauerberg, this cosy little store sells a combination of the best international books about style, concepts, architecture and urbanism, as well as local arty specialities. In their collection Supalife offers T-shirts, prints and posters, alternative art- and action magazines and releases from local producers, among others. Celebrating the Berlin street art scene, these guys even gained my enthusiasm to buy a set of original Berlin street art stickers made by the print and sticker artist Stromausfall. Although this might have been a holiday emotion purchase affected by Berlin vibes, I still like it so much that I didn’t unpack the set.

    Berlin is full of this kind of concepts stores that sell inspiration and enthusiasm instead of a predefined range of products. Currently I try to understand the driving forces behind these concept stores. Why, for example, do you find these stores in New York, London and Berlin, and not in Amsterdam? Maybe “size matters”, as Saskia Sassen argues in her essay in the Endless City book, considering specialized businesses in leading world cities. In Moscow, on the other hand, I’ve been walking my legs off to find such a thing, but I couldn’t find any. If anybody has answers, feel welcome.