Andreas Murkudis’ eponymous Potsdamer Straße concept store – an expansive, industrial space nestled in Berlin’s busy centre – is something of a haven for design aficionados. There are rails of Céline, Yohji Yamamoto, and Maison Margiela, as one might expect, but there are also beautifully tailored suits, delicate glass vessels, angular lighting fixtures and plenty of pots. Murkudis is a curator, first and foremost, having spent no fewer than 15 years overseeing the direction of his chosen city’s Museum of Design, so the eclecticism of this assortment is part and parcel of the store’s irrepressible charm. Whatever form his selection takes, the Murkudis name has become synonymous with brilliant design – and as of this week, that sensibility is extending beyond the store’s glass front and onto a shipping container levelled with its terrace: the Birkenstock Box.
This is not just any shipping container, however – it is a mobile retail concept designed by architecture firm Gonzalez Haase AAS for the world-renowned German shoe brand. Conceived of as a deliberately blank space, some of the world’s best-loved stores (after its three-week stint at Andreas Murkudis, the box will continue on its journey to 10 Corso Como in Milan and later Barney’s in New York, among others) will house the purpose-built construction, flexing their curatorial muscles in the process. The design of the Box lends it neatly to this progression: treated as a kind of container of light, its mirror-clad walls are comprised of vertical corrugated panels which are reflective from some angles and transparent from others, allowing its respective curators to treat it as an extension of their own stores. Similarly, the cork-lined floor – a direct reference to Birkenstock’s pioneering podiatry – feels oddly homely. This is a malleable space, and the months ahead promise that a broad spectrum of creative concepts that will unfold within it.
Murkudis, for his part, has filled the Box with the best in class from his selection of design; there are delicate glass pieces and items of clothing as well as artful curiosities. “Most of the things are from smaller brands, made on really high levels,” he said. “I know the designers personally.” CristaSeya candles in circular wooden holders (“I think only at the moment Céline is allowed to use these candles... but I got them too”) are positioned next to playful vibrant keyrings created by a longtime collaborator; handcrafted animal cushions in toile de jouy cotton and chic pieces by Milanese brand Aspesi are also on offer. And, of course, there are the Birkenstocks themselves – in this environment, the 1774-founded footwear company well established for its focus on comfort feels very much at home. Alongside the new collection, Murkudis debuts two new editions designed by his brother, Kostas Murkudis, especially for the occasion. Weighty and lined with leather, they are available in black or a deep forest green and, surrounded here by handmade ornaments and colourful knickknacks, they instantly feel like a classic.
So what will his usual customers think of the store, I ask Murkudis? Given their ilk – they are “museum people, actors, real creatives,” he says: “I know most of them by name, because I am here six days a week. I sit always on my sofa, there, and we have a nice conversation” – it’s fair to assume the box will go down well. Its contents, after all, are a perfect distillation of the core Murkudis values; innovation, craftsmanship and authenticity. We’ll look forward to seeing how the Box transforms in Milan and New York, but there’s no denying that Murkudis and Birkenstock are a match well-made.
The Birkenstock Box will be at Andreas Murkudis, Berlin, until July 22, 2017.