One of our favourite small shop discoveries in Kreuzberg is Koko Schultz & Freunde , because EVERYTHING there is upcycled, making for intrigue and curiosity, but unlike other objects the whole selection is done in a much more stylish way than what you might see mass-produced on the flea-markets! Wonderful olive oil can furniture, pretty tea-set cake tiers, cool crystal lightshades and unique suitcase coffeetables are just a few items sure to impress, so we really wanted to find out more from creative co-owner Petra Schultz…and who her Freunde are too!
You’re the co-owner of the brilliant upcycling-boutique Koko Schultz… but who are the Freunde and who does what in the business?
Koko Schultz & Freunde is a collective – me and Myriell Kohrs (of fashion label Mymako) run the shop and take care of the organisation & all our friends.
The concept is to bring together different designers, who all focus on sustainability and especially work according to the ideas of upcycling. The products all work and complement each other and show off the various possibilities of upcycling. Our customers are always really surprised and inspired by the beautiful designs, ideas and the way they have been realised.
We also divide the time between us that we spend in the shop. Everyone has their own label and takes care of their own production, but our actual shop is a community project that everyone is involved in.
Janni Glamann of JANNI.redesign is a big part of our group, who has the most wonderful 1950’s-inspired pieces from lovingly restored furniture to bed tables & sideboards and even tables made out of old suitcases.
A few other names include Mark Harton Holz & Metall, who works with wood and metal to create timeless shelves; Stuart N.R. Wolfe with his amazing bicycles lamps; Meyburg who makes quality bags out of old leather sofas and Jesper Jensen and Sybille Homann who creates beautiful products out of old glass. We also have wonderful old dishes newly printed on from wennn… geschirrgeschichten, noble jewellery made from fair trade gold from Lucasolar and the finest speakers from Urmurks (they transform old heaters into amazing speakers).
… and much much more 🙂
What did you do before owning the shop and what made you start this interesting concept store?
Ten years ago I started the label rafinesse & tristesse with my friend Karin, where we build upcycled furniture and lamps and create designer pieces with nostalgic charm out of recycled olive oil canisters, antic cans and crystal bowls.
Every item is completely unique (including little scratches here and there that tell stories of their previous lives). All our products are handmade and done in Germany & Switzerland, working together with social projects.
The first few years we worked in our studios and workshops in Berlin and sold our products mainly through other furniture shops and at trade shows, but we always dreamt of having our own shop and were longing to be able to actually talk to our customers directly, so a previous “studio community” came together to start our shop project.
So, you offer designs you have both upcycled yourself as well as that have been upcycled by other designers. Which items do you do in house?
Myriell and I have a small studio space in the back. Myriell designs and sews everything for her fashion label Mymako there. What makes her designs really striking is the fact that she uses very rare and beautiful retro fabric and sometimes also combines them with newer fabrics.
I design my drafts in the studio and build the lamps there too.
The great thing is that many of our materials are in the studio, so customers are able to customise their furniture and clothing. They can pick certain fabrics or cable colours, crystal bowls or lampshades.
And what items from other designers are proving the most popular?
Stuart’s Monbijou ‘blamp’ is super popular – it’s a desk lamp made our of old bicycle parts. The small vases made out of light bulbs from janni.redesign are also a big hit.
Upcycling is becoming increasingly popular. Why do you think this is?
I think upcycling is inevitable nowadays.
In so many areas of our lives sustainable processes are needed and in design, upcycling is a great way to conserve resources and at the same time create exciting and beautiful new designs. Durable products made fairly tell a story & connect people. They become favourite pieces and therefore have an even higher value.
We also have customers come into the shop with old materials that they want us to use in something new and give them a new meaning this way.
If there was ONE item that defines Koko Schultz in style, what would it be?
It’d be so tough to choose one single product to represent the big variety of items we have, but I feel that our shop postcard (below) gives a wonderful impression of what Koko Schultz is about.
How does the creative process of upcycling work … do you see an item and feel inspired or do you have ideas and look for the right items to achieve your vision?
At first it definitely was about the material: old olive oil canisters. It’s incredible how many different ideas we had by completely changing the canister and using it for other purposes. The same happened with the crystal bowls, old cameras and broken chandeliers. We had the items and then thought about what we could make out of these at the moment “useless” things.
By now we also get many requests from restaurants, bars and hotels and if we don’t have their products in our range yet, we will go on a hunt for the right material for it.
What are the main challenges of running an upcycling-concept store?
For us the concept became our life philosophy. We try to live sustainable in as many aspects of our life as possible and upcycling – increasing the value of previously used materials – is a massive part of that.
Whilst wanting to create beautiful and durable designer pieces, the local production without long transportation routes is also very important to us, as well as that everything is handmade … and of course our cooperation partner, the USE, which is a workshop for people with disabilities.
Which places do you like to eat, drink and relax at in Berlin?
I love the Landwehrkanal and Viktoriapark. A picknick at Urbanhafen or the waterfall is just unbeatable for me.
Finish the following sentence: ‘For me, Berlin is…’
Make sure you go and check out the beautiful upcycled products of Petra and all of her friends next time you’re in the Bergmannkiez. You will find it incredibly tough to walk out of Koko Schultz & Freunde without wanting to buy at least a handful of unique items.