Among a sea of six story drab buildings in Berlin, you come across an odd, zebra-striped shop called the Happy Shop. Designed by architects Fingerle & Woeste, the multifunctional space is modeled after a jewelry box that is meant to inspire and make Berliners “happy.” With a wide range of designers from the well-known (Meadham Kirchhoff, Maison Kitsune, Toga, Bernhard Wilhelm) to the up and coming (The Inoue Brothers, Minä Perhonen) Happy Shop strives to be a playground for adults that aims to transform any fashionista’s dark wardrobe into something playful and bold. BULLETT sits down with designer and owner Mischa Alexandra Woeste.
BULLETT: Happy Shop is a statement. Entering the store, you get thrown into a different world full of colors and lovely details. What made you name the store Happy Shop?
Mischa Alexandra Woeste: Happy Shop was actually a spontaneous decision. I never could have thought to name it differently. Everything you find here is related to joy and happiness, colors, and special crafty techniques. This is what I personally associate with Happy Shop.
What is the idea or concept behind Happy Shop?
Generally, the idea is to bring well-known and established labels from all over the world to Berlin. Labels the international audience can normally find at Corso Como Milan, Colette Paris, or London Dover Street Market. Labels that, for some reason, aren’t represented in Berlin. Embodying a new style is one of our main aspirations at Happy Shop.
Why didn’t you open up a store with your own label?
I find it difficult to only sell my own label. I started Smeilinener in 2002, and over the years that I have been working in this business, I can say that it works best if you show customers how to wear a combination of your own pieces and pieces of other interesting brands. This is how it is done these days. There are so many things people get inspired by, and I think this is an exciting approach.
At the moment, Torstrasse is changing. Retail is going forward. It is about to become the most fashionable street. What was your motivation to open up a shop right here?
It was a coincidence that we ended up on Torstrasse. We found the land last year in January. Originally, they wanted to build a youth hostel here. At that time, the hype around Torstrasse slowly began. Suddenly, Soho House opened up. Locating Happy Shop down here was a complete coincidence, but a good one!
The Happy Shop looks different from regular buildings on Torstrasse. Why did you build a whole new building instead of just moving into a space like regular retailers do?
The project is the result of a collaboration with the architects from FINGERLE & WOESTE. We sat down and developed a concept of how we could use the house and its space most efficiently in our favor. We wanted to create something special, an object that stands out and sets new standards. In general, your own property allows you to be more free. I can actively figure out ways to attract a lot of attention. There are so many ideas and innovations.
Are you planning on any events for Berlin Fashion Week?
We are going to present the launch of the new City Guide 2011 “ Berlin Inspires” by Liganova . We will also participate in Berlin’s Fashion Night Out, organized by Bread & Butter. With the start of the new season in September, Happy Shop will host its first big event, which will be a sale event.
Let’s talk about the architecture inside. I can see that there a lots of cables and racks someone can move up or down…
Yes. The idea for the space inside comes from stage constructions. It’s considered a stage that can change its interior via the press of a button. This enables us to move. It clears the retail space in a heartbeat for art shows, events, et cetera. Also, exchangeable tools on the racks make the store look different all the time. It is a modular conception that gives customers the impression that every time they visit, there is something new to see and explore.
What are the labels that are carried here and why?
We carry The Inoue Brothers. They aren´t a conventional fashion label. What I personally find very interesting is that they are part of the entire production, from the very beginning to the final product, which means the production is literally optimized. Their summer collection was made in Africa by these tribes that still work with special beading techniques–a craft that’s slowly disappearing. Being in charge and making sure that everything is tracked and helping hands get properly paid for the work they do is a priority.
We also carry the label Toga from Japan. It is incredibly fresh and exciting to me because there is a twist between punk and elegance. In combination with Smeilinener or Castelbajac, it gives a different flavor. A more playful one. Another label that we carry with pride is Meadham Kirchhoff from London. Having shown for three seasons now, they have grown rapidly. Their collections are amazing! Happy Shop is proud to be the first shop in Berlin that presents all of these brands for the first time.
Overall, I think it is important to stay flexible as far as the range goes. We consider ourselves trend scouts in a way, always observing and taking in styles and brands that are long-lasting and fit the concept of Happy Shop. What is new? Where is the potential? The labels grow with us, basically.
Who are your regular customers?
Our customers are from all over the world. As for the Germans, I know it sounds negative, but we would like to open their eyes toward a more adventurous and one-of-a-kind wardrobe, because they are a little reserved in how they dress. It is definitely one of our missions to pique their curiosity for things that aren’t necessarily prevalent and available on every corner.
Speaking of living and working in Berlin, is it luxury to bring your ideas to life here?
It doesn’t matter where you are in the world. It is a luxury and a total exception to get to work on your dreams. I feel very lucky to be given this opportunity.
What do you see in the future of Happy Shop?
I would love to see Happy Shop become a Berlin hotspot from an international point of view. It would be nice to see it develop into an island for people who want to get inspired and come for the experience. But overall, it is of importance that this place keeps evolving and moving. This is what it is about–a flow.
Visit Happy Shop HERE or in person at Torstrasse 67-BERLIN, Germany
Photographer: Leifur Wilberg Orrason
Styling: Sebastian Alexander Trah
Hair Stylist and Make Up Artist: Julie Skok
Model: Helena Hoppe at Megamodels
Production: Juliane Lehmann
Special thanks to Mischa and Marck at Happy Shop Berlin.