LFB sat down with Jana of Amazing Crocodile to talk about her local interior shop Amazing Crocodile located here in Berlin.
LFB: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, what you were doing before starting Amazing Crocodile and why you decided to start it?
Jana: Even though I studied architecture, I always knew (even during my studies) that I would never work as an architect. I was however, always interested in interior design; it began mainly as a personal interest in my own home. Two years after I came to Berlin I opened a children’s shop and founded a label for accessories for childrens’ rooms with my sister-in-law. We closed the shop and sold the brand eight years later. In 2011, I started working as an interior designer. Still, I loved being a shop owner so I started thinking of a way to put these two passions together and opened up a store for furniture and interior accessories.
LFB: If you had to give an elevator pitch to someone about what Amazing Crocodile is, what you say in a few sentences?
Jana: In addition to established brands, I present and sell products and home accessories by designers and artists from nearly all over the world, especially those who are not so well known in Germany [and deserve exposure]. To set my shop apart from others in Berlin I also present the work of young designers and artists in small exhibitions changing every 2 months. I miss the perspective of fresh, young designers who also dare to experiment which is why I aim to fill that gap with my shop.
LFB: What do you love most about interior design?
Jana: Colors! You can change a lot by just painting a room with new colors. Most of the products I display in my shop are very colourful. I also love the use of different materials like wood, brass, marble or terrazzo and combining them with bright colors.
LFB: What are the challenges you face with curating items for your store? How do you make sure everything fits together in a cohesive and coherent way?
Jana: That’s very difficult to explain, because I choose and decide everything on an intuitive level. I feel if it fits or not. I also have no problem saying NO to a designer when I think his or her work does not fit Amazing Crocodile’s aesthetic.
LFB: You have begun to do bi-monthly exhibitions in the shop with different artists. Could you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind this about exactly how it works?
Jana: During my research for the concept of the store I found so many interesting designers just starting their own business. Most of them don’t have products ready to sell or only a very small catalogue. I thought of a way to present these interesting products, minus the risk of selling them, as I also have to get started with my business. Thus the idea to present the work of these young designers in small exhibitions was born.
All items are on commission in my store. When something is sold, it is great! If not, there is no risk for me or the designer, as the exhibited items already exist. This also means that every two months there are new and interesting products in my store.
LFB: Scandinavian design is so popular at the moment, but you have told us that nothing in your shop is from Scandinavia. Was this a conscious decision?
Jana: Yes, it was, because there are so many shops in Berlin Mitte selling stuff from Scandinavia. Brands like Muuto, Norman Copenhagen, Hay, ferm living… However, this is not a hard and fast rule. There are many interesting designers producing things that don’t look like Scandinavian design from Scandinavia who I would like to incorporate into Amazing Crocodile. So when I do finally present my first Scandinavian designer their work will only be recognizable as Scandinavian from their name!
LFB: Is carrying work from local artists and designers a priority? If so, why?
Jana: While it is not a priority, I definitely have products from Berlin-based designers in my assortment like My Kilos, Ina Seifart, lamp Deux by Mascha Kuchejda and Popstahl (kitchens). Our current exhibition also shows the work of a young Berlin designer.
LFB: What are your favourite design trends at the moment?
Jana: Memphis is back! It’s great! Colors. And materials like marble and terrazzo.
LFB: If you could only own items from one designer for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Jana: I don’t know, I can’t decide! I see so many beautiful products from different designers every day and I think it would be boring to have everything from the same designer. The mix keeps it interesting.
LFB: If you were to give tips to someone looking to style an empty flat, what would they be?
Jana: Think of what you need in your daily life. A flat can only be cosy when the furniture is used. If you love to invite guests you should invest in a large table. Stowage is very important to have a cheerful base, which you can decorate with beautiful items. Things that are used on a daily basis and can’t be stored in a cabinet should be invested in a bit more.
It is not easy to completely decorate a flat from scratch. Which is why it can be useful to hire professionals to do the job. However, if this is not an option I would suggest first purchasing the most important items and then slowly adding pieces one by one. You often get a better idea for what you need and what visually fits in your space once you are already living in it. A home that grows into itself is one that often appears more personal and authentic!
Amazing Crocodile is located on Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße 49, 10178 Berlin.
Photography: Rae Tashman