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Silas Inoue. Mi Casa Es Su Casa, 2016. Installation view

To set free from real existence, to liberate creativity 0

Q&A with Natalia Enge, owner of the Sirin Concept Store in Copenhagen

Photos: Emil Monty Freddi

Copenhagen has always stood out among the other Nordic capitals by way of its special sense of style. A shining example of this is the design-concept shop Sirin, which offers a decidedly curated selection featuring a potpourri of languages, cultures and styles. Here you'll find furniture, art, jewelry, perfumes, niche magazines and even toys. Natalia Enge, the owner of Sirin, explains how she selects her design wares: I wanted the shop to look different from others, and I am very happy when people tell me that I have managed to create a different look and feel. Also, I wanted to get to know my customers, since it is also sort of an “integration project” of mine – I discover my customers as much as they discover my products. So I try to present small series, new brands, local and international products, and bring something new, or something I liked from my previous life, and to see what works best.

When Natalia mentions her “previous life”, she's referring to the period when her Russian-Norwegian family lived in turns in Paris, Moscow, London, Oslo and Luxembourg, before settling in Copenhagen. Natalia recalls: I fell in love with Scandinavian design many years ago, and I started to think about running a Scandinavian design shop long before I moved to Denmark. However, my family moved from country to country much faster than I had time to develop this plan. That’s how I finally decided to present a design selection that reflects my personal story and experience, all culled from living in different countries and cultures.

In the shop, new mixes with old, minimalism with charming “old school”. Most of the brands carried by the shop are relatively young, small-scale producers. For instance, posters and souvenirs by the Estonian graphic design offices of Bold Tuesday sit beside beard combs made from soviet-era vinyl, and furniture made by the Danish company Novel Cabinet Makers, in which contemporary functionality has been combined with reminiscences of the past.

On the Estonian brand Bold Tuesday and their geography posters, Natalia says: “Basically, no Tuesday goes by without someone having bought one of their posters – it is their own kind of Tuesday magic.” Natalia also specially points out a sofa designed by Andreas Engesvik from Norway, adding: “It is not very publicized in Denmark, but every day I have clients telling me how amazing it is.”

The name of the shop is just as concept-laden as its contents – it is taken from one of Natalia's favorite authors, the Russian writer Vladimir Nabokov, who would sometimes use the pseudonym of (Vladimir) Sirin. As Natalia herself explains her choice of the name: “The idea of SIRIN is more like a quest for a new identity, a pen-name which will set you free from your real existence, liberate your creativity, and eventually, help you adjust (or not) to the new place where you happen to be living at the moment. There are some language learning methods in which students are assigned a name native to that language, thereby making it easier to 'merge' into the new language and culture. I have learned French this way, and found that it was surprisingly efficient.” was especially interested in Sirin's collection of art and design publications, and asked Natalia for more in-depth commentary on this part of her shop – “Since I have some experience in publishing, printed magazines and books are very important to me. We have a small but varied selection of publications on art, design, travel and lifestyle, which we update all the time. We were the first stockists in Copenhagen for several well-known international publications like Marfa Journal, Holiday, A New Type of Imprint, and Ala Champ magazines. Currently we are working on a special project dedicated to print, which will run from the end of August.”

Silas Inoue. Mi Casa Es Su Casa, 2016. Installation view 

Natalia also reveals that Sirin has a cultural program:We are trying to keep ourselves busy and have organized a string of events in the past few months, including a special Nørrebro poster launch, a Christmas lights show, a designers evening, and a magazine presentation. Up to the end of May we hosted an installation by Danish artist Silas Inoue, for which we had to move all of our products out of the shop and into storage. So now the space looks more like a contemporary art gallery, which is quite refreshing. Future plans include more exhibitions and collaborations, and a special 'print' project.”

In order to give project authors as much freedom of expression as possible in describing their work, frequently asks them the following question: “If Sirin was a journey, how would you describe it?” Natalia answered wholeheartedly: “I like this question very much because this word probably describes my project in the best possible way – it actually IS a journey. We started from point A, and we will see where it brings us. Which means: no business plan, and no precise goals and numbers. We just love the process. Let's see where we are in a couple of years!”

Ravnsborg Tvaergade 7