About eight years ago, I stumbled across the Andreas Murkudis store in Mitte, Berlin, and was left with a lasting impression of a genius who could convincingly display items such as Aspesi nylons alongside Nymphenburg porcelain, contrasting the purely functional with the highly decorative. Murkudis has since relocated to a cavernous space in Potsdamer Strasse, where he has a fashion store at 81 and a design store at 77, as well as a gallery across the road. A visit is filled with discovery. I probably know 90 per cent of the brands and makers he sells, but it’s the ten per cent that I don’t know that excites me. Lately it has been Second Skin and Cyclas from Japan, Neri from Florence, bed linens by Ege, and candleholders by Carl Auböck for Lee West Objects.
When I talk to Murkudis about object hunting (a task we have in common), and about how makers reach his radar and what interests him enough to buy, it’s clear that he’s fascinated by storytelling, and the stories that he tells about his brands and makers don’t disappoint.
Animal magic: I love a decorative napkin, such as these ones adorned with embroidered bugs, raccoons, foxes or whales, by Brooklyn firm Coral & Tusk and stocked at Mouki Mou. Illustrator: Harriet Lee Merrion
Another inspirational tastemaker is my Marylebone neighbour, Maria Lemos of Mouki Mou. At a recent visit to Maison et Objet, my favourite finds were some sublimely simple brushes made of shuro, or Japanese windmill palm, created by Takada Tawashi, a maker from Kishu in Wakayama Prefecture. After calling a friend in Tokyo, I managed to get hold of some samples so that I could write a feature about them. When I later met up with Lemos, I was keen to share them with her, but she had them already – ‘That was my favourite item from the fair,’ we both said in unison.
Lemos opened Mouki Mou in London’s Chiltern Street in 2013, and she hunts out makers and products that move her and stir a desire to possess. Her stock includes Nendo’s ‘Patchwork’ vases for Lasvit, oneoff Pressed Flower Artworks by MR Studio, jewellery by Ted Muehling, blankets by Denis Colomb, glassware by Lobmeyr, and leather goods by Isaac Reina. Lemos goes to great pains to avoid the ubiquitous. Like Murkudis, she has an inherent curiosity, as well as well-honed principles, which make her edit unique. Her store layout, with its slither of a façade and warren of rooms that spreads out below, serves to accentuate the journey of discovery for the client.
Light relief: Second Skin, stocked at Andreas Murkudis, produces near-weightless clothing made of advanced natural materials, like air-knit cotton. Just the thing for aeroplane cabins. Illustrator: Harriet Lee Merrion
For me, the joy of acquiring something new and precious is in understanding its unique characteristics, in knowing who created or designed it, when and where it was made, what it is made from, and what sets it apart from the rest. A tastemaker who is well-versed in the art of storytelling will stand out from the crowd.
Other legendary retail tastemakers
Murray Moss and Franklin Getchell: The duo behind Moss, the iconic New York design gallery that opened in 1994. Having shuttered the store in 2012, today they focus on consultancy through Moss Bureau.
Joseph Ettedgui: Founder of the Joseph empire, who passed away in 2010. He introduced countless new brands to London, such as Prada, Marni and Kenzo, and his merchandising mix was highly seductive.
Tiina Laakkonen: The Finnish former model and stylist brings her unique point of view to the Hamptons through Tiina the Store in Amagansett.
Tomas Maier: At his Miami, Palm Beach and East Hampton stores, opened almost 20 years ago, Maier sold his own cashmere sweaters and swimwear alongside a curated edit of accessories, design objects and the best selection of design books ever. Today, his eponymous collection and stores have a fuller offer.
As originally featured in the October 2017 issue of Wallpaper* (W*223)