Powder coated metal against natural oak structures and raw concrete walls mark the launch of Dutch eyewear brand Ace & Tate’s first ever German flagship store.
In a collaboration with Berlin-based contemporary design agency, New Tendency, Ace & Tate have opened their first ever German flagship store in Berlin’s fashionable Mitte district. Covering an impressive 130 square meters, its slick streamlined aesthetic represents the eyewear brand’s values – craftmanship, quality, functionality and long-lasting design with a sharp eye for detail. Clean and modern with a fusion of architectural and art-focused elements, including a giant neon light installation and wall artwork printed on to aluminium, the connection between the store space and the product contained within it, is organic, as one defines and enhances the other.
For SS16 the agency also designed a pair of unisex sunglasses and a storage device for frames – both of which featured in the brand’s campaign shot by photographer and director Jonas Lindstroem – celebrating the store’s launch and a unique creative collaboration.
Kate Lawson caught up with New Tendency’s founder Manuel Goller, to find out more.
Photos by: Søren Jepsen
So tell me about New Tendency and its creative vision?
I started NEW TENDENCY 3 years ago. It emerged from a project I started with friends while studying at the Bauhaus University in Weimar. The project was and is about creating a stage for holistic concepts and ideas varying from formal, sculpture to graphic design and photography. It organically grew into a brand which not only allowed us to self-fund the project but also to collaborate with great designers, artists, photographers and ultimately like-minded brands. NEW TENDENCY is supposed to be a medium from many ideas and visions within our team and collaborators. The only premise is possibly a certain ambition for design quality and handcraft.
So that explains why you reference ‘Bauhaus’ as a design influence in your agency’s bio – how important do you think that movement has been to contemporary design?
It is quite important to me personally. People often refer to the Bauhaus as a very rational and constructive design movement, but I am really inspired by the poetic and spiritual tone of it as well. This was specially shaped in the early Weimar years and got somehow lost in the Dessau period. I think contemporary design should be more than just functional and efficient, it should be poetic too and tell its only story. That’s at least what we are trying to do!
And your latest design project with Ace & Tate really does tell its own story. How did the collaboration come about?
It’s actually a quite funny story. Ace & Tate was planning its first temporary store in Berlin, and Fabian (a friend of ours), suggested our agency for it. We didn’t take any commissioned work at that point, but Fabian introduced us to meet with the brand and we literally fell in love with them right away – we learned that they had already collaborated with Droog in Amsterdam, a design collective who we really admire. So we eventually agreed to build some displays for their first temporary store in Germany and then other pop-up stores in Germany and the Netherlands, before working on the first permanent flagship store in Berlin recently. It’s a real friendship story.
So can you explain the inspiration and vision behind the brand’s flagship store design?
Ace & Tate’s founder Mark de Lange, has a really precise vision of the brand. His idea is actually pretty similar to the principles of Bauhaus as well: Creating an accessible, but well conceived product. For the store design we implemented his vision by creating a modular retail structure using a variety of materials, from warm oak wood to precise laser-cut, powder coated steel.
There is also an interesting mix of artwork printed on aluminium, along with a giant neon light installation – you seamlessly fuse artistic-elements into your designs, how important is that to you?
The context for our design is essential to us. So we have been really happy that Ace & Tate enabled us to work with our friend and long-time collaborator Jonas Lindstroem for the campaign shoots, which are installed within the modular grid structure throughout the whole store.
And how many square meters is the store?
It’s about 130sqm.
It’s also based in Berlin’s fashionable Mitte district – what do you think makes that particular area of Berlin so cool?
Mitte has been going through a lot of development throughout the past few years. For me it is today the most international district in Berlin, with places like The Stores at Soho House, Cecconi&39’s, but also long-established stores like Sal-Bazaar and Volksbühne– soon led by Ex-Tate- Modern-Curator Chris Dercon – this culture is shaping Berlin’s future identity.
And why do you think the city is so progressive in terms of creating edgy concept stores?
Berlin has a great tradition of freedom and change. The city somehow engages people to make bold ideas become reality. I believe this spirit is the base for great ventures, whether it’s a gallery or a concept store.
So how did you personally get into design and specifically for retail?
I was always interested in the arts and probably got into design when I drew cover art for my brother’s band when I was 10! [laughs]. My ambitions changed while working and studying in Hamburg, Rome, Weimar and New York. I was always curious about stores and how they were designed. My biggest influence was probably Azita Store, a Skateshop in Frankfurt (where I grew up), that turned into an art gallery.
And do you have any personal design heroes, past or present?
Too many in the past!
What qualities do you look for in good design?
Intelligence, poetry, timelessness.
And what makes for a good retail environment – how has this changed with the advent of online shopping?
I think a good retail environment has to have a strong character and a personality. There are too many stores out there that are easily replaceable. I also believe that online shopping won’t replace physical stores. Both have to create a symbiosis that creates a seamless customer-experience.
How important is shop design to increasing sales then?
I think design is very important for all relationships a customer builds with a brand. Design is the medium to non-verbally communicate values and the qualities of the brand to its customers. And what aspects of retail design are the hardest to get right? I don’t think it’s about being right. It’s about building a strong and unique identity that people can reflect on.
So aside from the new Ace & Tate store design, for SS16 you also collaborated on a pair of limited edition unisex sunglasses and a Bento box inspired storage device for the brand’s frames – can you tell me more about those designs and the inspiration for each?
We actually thought about designing our own interpretation of a frame since our very first meeting with Ace & Tate. A frame is actually a super interesting piece to design, since it’s somewhere in between product design and fashion – which we are inspired by a lot. For the frame we played with shapes changing from delicate and thin, to substantial and full depending on the viewing angle. Bento is an extension to our signature META side table. It’s kind of a treasure chest made from wood which is inspired by the Japanese Bento boxes. It is the perfect place to store your most treasured or important things like your Grandpa’s pocket watch, or your reading glasses right next to you in your bed side table.
Ok, so if I was coming to visit Berlin one weekend this Summer (wearing your Ace & Tate sunglasses design of course!), where are the cool places to hang out?
Well in Summer I would probably recommend you take a 1 hour drive to the beautiful northern countryside just outside of Berlin. There are many incredible lakes to just hang out and enjoy the sun!
Find more info about the store and our collection here.