Neues Design: Germany's Stijlmarkt
My friend Lissie and I make it our annual tradition to meet at Nuremberg's Stijlmarkt, drink a craft Helles beer and see what is happening with Germany's up-and-coming product designers.
This year, the relentless rain and grey of November (Germans only have to give you a look that says, "I am deeply sorry for this crap weather. Hopefully it snows in December!") didn't keep us or thousands of other Nürnbergers away from Das Ofenwerk, a 1920s historical factory turned-event space and Oldtimer garage with, what else would you expect in Bavaria, mint condition Volkswagens and Fiats from the '30s on up.
Stijlmarkt's tagline reads: Markt für junges Design, Fashion und guten Geschmack. A market for emerging design and style.
Founded in Mainz, it has become a traveling affair, from Freiburg, Luxembourg, Cologne, southward to Munich, to Leipzig in the east, passing through the city in which I live, Nuremberg.
Upon entry, I purchased that craft Helles beer for a few euro at the espresso bar from a 20-something guy who spoke English with me. "Is my accent really that bad?" I asked, both of us knowing full well my German accent is terrible. He reminded me, auf Englisch, to bring the bottle back for the Pfand, refund. (Glass bottles always have a deposit- Germany puts an astute emphasis on waste and recycling).
Lissie motioned to the line of vintage VWs and Fiats and said, "Look at that one, Sam. Our family had one growing up. They are called Beetles!"
We made our way to the cornucopia of makers and artisans, all who were excited to regale their backstories ("in English or German?" they asked. Again... accent?) with hopes we would make off with a few Weihnachtsgeschenke, Christmas presents, from their booths.
There was Dariusch Rafizada, a German-Afghan from Ulm and his Bauhausian concrete tablet holders, a barber with a handlebar mustache giving (a little too close to the 1930s style) undercuts in the corner, a dapper pair of gentlemen from Bad Vilbil selling laser-cut wooden bow ties and cuff links. Meticulous illustrations of forest animals, functional backpacks from Berlin, punk rock concrete jewelry from Frankfurt. A plant protein food truck. A Hamburger (yes, Hamburger) artisan making Origami meets Heavy Metal jewelry. A fair-trade vegan sweatshirt line- I contemplated buying one for my sister for her Weihnachtsgeschenk.
I ran into Gabriela Schneider of Canvas Atlas, who I had discovered on Instagram a few days earlier. I loved her clean and saturated product shots. Like me, she came from North America (but the other one, with universal health insurance and French) and moved here, like me, for love. She makes beautiful fabric and leather crafts. I picked up a few stamped leather coasters for our house.
Lissie looked at me and said, "Sam. I like our annual tradition."
"Yeah", I replied, finishing my Helles and walking toward the bottle deposit. "It's a good tradition."