Outside the box: Birkenstock debuts a new mobile retail concept in Berlin
Andreas Murkudis opened his first shop in Berlin after 15 years as director of the city’s Museum der Dinge (Museum of Design). It was 2003 and the dawn of the ‘concept store’ – a haloed interior that took the austere minimalism of the nineties and warmed it up with a dash of millennial optimism. And, for some, that confidence paid off. He has since opened another five stores across Germany, each reflective of his rigorous taste. ‘I’m a bad sales person, so I thought I needed to sell things I loved. It has always been a mix of things that interested me and this is still true today,’ Murkudis says.
In 2011, his main store moved from Mitte into the former Tagesspiegel newspaper building on Potsdamer Straße – a vast space that feels both bare yet lavish. ‘My idea is always to have a strong selection and each thing needs its own space to breathe. You know, I don’t like this internet thing. We do it a little bit, but at the end of the day we have more than 8,000 different items and we spend so much time changing the space, that people prefer to come and see it for themselves.’
Birkenstock white, displayed inside Murkudis’ store
Right now, the shop is playing host to the first ever Birkenstock Box – a mobile retail concept initiated by the venerated shoe-brand favoured by hippies and hipsters the world over. The site-specific, multi-brand space was designed in collaboration with Gonzalez Haase AAS, who worked with Murkudis on the interior of his store. Over the coming months, it will travel to international destinations such as Kirna Zabête in the Hamptons and Barneys New York.
The Box provides a neutral, balanced and blessedly quiet showcase for merchandise. At Murkudis, the spotlight is on the handmade. The interior is even made up of layers of the Birkenstock’s iconic cork material. At the centre is a modernist structure that mirrors an island draped in leather accessories and fine glassware in the main store. Here the edit focuses on the natural with hand-poured candles by CristaSeya, liquor by Stählemühle and artisanal chic cotton clothes by Roberta Furlanetto and Aspesi. On sale too are limited edition sandals designed by Murkudis’ brother, the fashion designer Kostas Murkudis. The cork sole of the classic Arizona style is moulded in leather, available in forest green or deep navy.
‘I don’t normally like these pop up stores because…I have a store,’ Murkudis smiles, ‘but I had known the team for some time and it sounded like we could do something really special. Birkenstock was really generous throughout.’ Shipping containers are arranged at double height at the front of the store. Connected by an internal staircase and offset, they create a terrace where the upper level retracts, offering a seamless line into the opposite building – a haven of beautiful things. ‘I like how it extends and connects to each other,’ he says. It’s a corker.