Stilwerk CEO Alexander Garbe.
Stilwerk CEO Alexander Garbe. Photo: Stilwerk

“We are entering new territory”

On the 22nd of May, the fifth stilwerk design center was opened in Dortmund. As in Hamburg, Berlin, Düsseldorf, and Vienna, stilwerk functions as a hotspot for international design in Dortmund as well, bringing together a top-class selection of brands from the areas of furnishing and home design: furniture, furnishing accessories, office and contract furnishings, giftware, fabrics, floor coverings, kitchens, baths, entertainment electronics, lighting, household appliances, photographic art, and even fashion. But not only the new center celebrated its premiere. Under the name “stilwerk stores,” stilwerk is now offering renowned domestic and international furniture brands on an area of about 2,500 sqm there under its own direction and acting as a retailer itself for the first time.

IF: Mr. Garbe, what brought about the decision to change from only renting to others to being a retailer as well?  

Alexander Garbe: A good question, we never saw ourselves as only renting to others, but rather as a “destination for design,” as a comprehensive concept that functions as a whole. Only concentrating on renting would have been too little. It is simply the next strategic step in stilwerk’s development. Which benefited, of course, from the fact that we had a clean slate in Dortmund, which made it much easier to start. 

IF: What are you expecting from the installation of the “stilwerk stores”?

Garbe: That we give customers and brands a structure, in which they feel that they are served well and professionally. In addition, we want to give new and interesting brands that haven’t found suitable retailers a chance to find a home in stilwerk.

IF: Will you open stores of your own in the other stilwerk centers as well?

Garbe: In Hamburg we already run the Norman Copenhagen Shop; for the others, it depends on whether the brands are interested. However, I assume that when we go on to new locations, stores will certainly be operated there, but probably more as flagships in cooperation with or for brands.

IF: How is the “stilwerk store” organized in regard to staff?

Garbe: Our plan is to always have an operative partner on board, who is responsible for the front end, for running the store. We only provide the back office and our infrastructure, the marketing, etc.

IF: How were the producers selected?

Garbe: We made a wish list and contacted those on it. Many found the idea very good and welcomed our initiative. There are critics as well, but that is OK, too, because we are entering new territory and now have to hold our own on the market.

IF: Mr. Garbe, we wish you lots of

The interview has been published in the InteriorFashion issue 3|2015.

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