While casual shoppers might wander the characterful streets of Mitte, in what was once East Berlin, the style cognoscenti head west – out past Mies van der Rohe’s glass-walled Neue Nationalgalerie and the Berliner Philharmoniker’s shimmering golden tent to a former newspaper press on distinctly un-ritzy Potsdamer Strasse.
With 7.5m-high ceilings and a 1,000sq m open-plan space, concept store Andreas Murkudis (first picture) has the white-cube aura of an art gallery. Left-field location aside, it also hides by positioning itself in a hinterhaus – an off-street building accessed through a courtyard. The message is clear: this is a destination shop worth a dedicated trip. “Mitte was too commercial,” Murkudis says of his move four years ago from the area he helped establish as a hip hub. “I like the element of surprise.”
Indeed, the 7,000-plus collection of coolly sophisticated fashion, furniture, beauty products and accessories has an eclectic vitality that’s far from predictable. Murkudis likes to juxtapose the luxurious with the affordable, the familiar with the under-the-radar. Mens- and womenswear from Marni, Dries Van Noten, Céline and Murkudis’ brother Kostas hang on stark rails beside tables with shoe polish (€25) from 16th-century Bavarian firm Ed Meier and bitter chocolate (€2.50) by Hamann, founded in Berlin in 1912. Floor-to-ceiling white open-box shelves house colourful leather pieces by Paris-based Isaac Reina (washbags, €250) and Ferrara-based Felisi (weekend bags, €595), while long counters display jewellery that Murkudis aligns with contemporary art, including a woven silk and mohair bracelet (€750) by Stephanie Schneider, others in gold (from €80) by Kiki Dieterle and two rings by Saskia Diez (to be worn on the same finger) linked via a delicate chain (€230).
A burst of neon illuminates an annexe: the sign for Berlin sunglasses label Mykita, under which is a wall of edgy frames (from €299). Books and beauty are also here, from Geza Schoen’s über-sexy Molecule perfumes (€115) and Susanne Kaufmann’s organic skincare products (from €29) to coffee-table tomes, including Sebastião Salgado’s Genesis (€50) and William Eggleston’s Chromes (€249, second picture).
Curious, covetable objects can be found on cubist pyramids in the main room, with stylish technology such as Brionvega’s folding radios (€550) and colourful Nymphenburg porcelain (from €130 for a Ruth Gurvich teacup or €1,490 for a Ruth Gurvich and Lightscape teapot, third picture, to €12,500 for a Harlekin Capitano Spavento by Gareth Pugh, fourth picture). Murkudis has also facilitated collaborations between this 18th-century maker and artists Carsten Höller and Olaf Nicolai. Hands-on projects are very important to him. “I like to work on a deeper level and build relationships with brands. It’s more fun that way.”
Murkudis cultivates these rapports and a gallery ambience by holding shows for new labels and artist collaborations. City-wide events such as Gallery Weekend Berlin allow the two worlds to chicly coalesce, and this year’s festival (May 1-3) sees the shop host a textile installation by Dries Van Noten, a show by US artist Peter Downsbrough and the opening of a streetfront lifestyle space with pieces by E15 and Christophe Delcourt. It’s little wonder the vibe attracts creative innovators: customers include artists Thomas Demand, Andreas Gursky and Olafur Eliasson. This is a crossroads where art meets fashion.