It was a friend who first tipped me off to Manufactum – a German online homewares store (with nine physical shops in Germany) that induces gasps and sighs over its tools, accessories, clothing and household supplies, by taking ordinary designs and transforming them into the very best versions of themselves.
Founded over 30 years ago by Thomas Hoof – once a member of the German Green Party – the company’s ethos was, and remains, to create or stock basic pieces that are beautifully made and built to last. Products are typically traditionally manufactured, using natural materials that are both sustainable and can be easily repaired (you can order replacement parts from the site).
With over 2,000 pragmatic, simply designed items across a range of categories, there is something for every passion on there, be it children’s toys – a rubber-band driven racing car (£36) would appeal to big kids too – or stationery. I made a beeline for the gardening section, where you’ll find beautiful beech-handled pruning shears (£80) and elegant larch tool racks (£23). I snapped up a galvanised-steel hand-harrow (£83), which glides ruggedly through garden beds and veg patches. These are sturdy tools made to last a lifetime. Manufactum features “best in class” brands too, so garden clogs (£57) come courtesy of Le Chameau, and the brilliant Easier-to-Use rake (£68) from Sneeboer. The unfussy clothes collections are particularly strong on workwear – a wool-lined work vest (£98) would be useful for chilly early-spring gardening.
What’s amazing about the site is that although the products appear very simple, it’s actually hard to find these kind of understated, no-frills designs across such a range of items in one place, which is why the site is so addictive. You can fall down all sorts of fascinating holes – I came across a charming five-drawer beechwood sewing box (£139), a handcrafted Groetsch-Kämme wooden comb (£22) and an ice scraper (£19.50) with a beautiful bronze blade.
Over on the household pages, there are lightweight but effective cast-iron stewing and casserole pots (from £45) by Invicta, enamelware from Riess (a gorgeous inky-blue milk pot is £24.80) and traditional copper cookware (from £129) from Mauviel. It’s unsurprising that the brand’s catalogues have a certain cult status in Germany, but in lieu of those books I am happy to while away hours online, building up a never-ending wishlist.