Part of Sunday afternoon was spent looking at the new ARKET store in the old post office building in Købmagergade in Copenhagen so it really was a bit of a fashion day with the time looking at the photographs from Danske magazine on Højbro Plads.
ARKET - a new brand from the Swedish company H&M - opened at the beginning of September so just a week after their first store opened in Regent Street in London and ahead of Brussels and Munich.
One style magazine suggested the brand sits between & Other Stories and COS but I'm not sure exactly what that means although I could understand the point that the magazine went on to make that this is a brand for good-quality basics.
Over the last year or so in Copenhagen I have been to a couple of seminars or discussion sessions where some in the design world here have suggested that furniture and design companies could follow the example of the fashion industry by introducing a stronger sense of a "new season" for designs and move forward with more peripatetic designers and even more manufacture outside the country to keep prices down and give the marketing of design a stronger sense of momentum ... a stronger sense of novelty that the fashion industry has mastered so people should want to want to buy ... to stimulate sales.
I am trying to write a longer post on this but I was curious and interested to see on the H&M web site there is a section on sustainability not just for the materials they source and use but with advice for caring for clothes so they last longer and suggestions for recycling garments. For ARKET they give a short summary of the new brand as …
“a modern-day market that offers essential products for men, women, children and the home, ARKET stores also include a café based on the New Nordic Food Manifesto. ARKET’s mission is to democratise quality through widely accessible, well-made, durable products, designed to be used and loved for a long time.”
It is the second sentence that is important. Could this actually be a major fashion company moving the other way - moving towards the marketing ethos of the best Scandinavian furniture and design companies who promote investment in quality rather than a relentless drive to create and then satisfy a customers desire for novelty?
Certainly it was interesting to see that the men's section does include cashmere jumpers and the jackets for their suits have proper buttonholes on the sleeve cuffs which shows that they really understand both the rules and the traditions of proper tailoring.
Shop fittings included the classic Artek Stool 60 by Alvar Aalto and the home section has the Sarpaneva Pot so both the store designers and the company buyers have a clear sense of Nordic design heritage.
The home section was good … it would actually be interesting to know who their buyer or director of home sales is because they have chosen well and it will be fascinating to see how the home section develops. Again, as with the clothes, these are good basics. And what was also interesting was that the selection of items had a different look and character that is distinct from homeware sold in the H&M stores.
At ARKET they have glass jugs with a pouring lip but straight sided, like a chemistry laboratory beaker, and a similar style of straight-sided jugs and mixing bowls in white china and there is an interesting range of enamelled cookware from Hario; glassware from Duralex and some good plain cushion covers; some simple linen and a range of those Swedish brushes by Iris Hantverk made in workshops for visually impaired workers.
For someone moving into their first unfurnished place then they could make this the first stop for … here's that word again … basics ... the good quality items that would be a good investment.
Back to general points - the historic building seems to have been restored and converted well, with a muted colour scheme of stone and grey. Packaging for underwear and so on was in plain, unbleached cardboard and the café sold fresh coffee and olive oil and other foodie things that were, again, in well-designed simple packaging … hardly revolutionary but never-the-less good to see.
The café was comfortable with well-priced coffee and some fantastic cardamom biscuits so, all in all, a good afternoon.