What do you get when you cross a creative man with a store front?
You get the Kreativ Werkstatt, located at Neustadt 11, in downtown Ansbach.
I was initially drawn into this store by the lovely parasol that shades its front stoop and the delicious vintage book offering before you cross its threshold. Once inside I was delighted to find it stocked with interesting treasures. My browsing was encouraged by the friendly shop owner; who, as it turns out, speaks fabulous English and loves to share the stories behind the items in his atelier. His passion was evident. I found his store to be chic with a sense of humor, so I asked him if I could come back later, talk with him, and blog about his business.
I consider myself an amateur writer. It’s not my first love, or my second. I do it because it enables me to share more of myself. When I find new places and people that are truly interesting I am compelled to write about them in greater depth than simply reposting a business card and a link to a website. In order to do this I must become more like a real writer. That makes me nervous. When I get nervous it is my automatic reaction to not shy away from cause of the feeling. Instead I leap for it and see what happens. I’ve never before asked a stranger if I can interview them and take photos in their store; especially not someone who lives in a foreign country with a native language that is not my own. Alas, there’s a first time for everything, and I am not a person who likes to say, “I wonder what it would be like to do this.” I’d rather just do-it, for the better or worse, and at the very least I’ll learn something.
In this case I am happy to report that I was epically rewarded for my gumption. I had the store all wrong. At the outset it appears to be an antique shop run by an artistic man. In reality there is fascinating man that sews; dare I call him a couturier because I feel that he deserves a better word than sews. He designs, manufactures, and sells articles of whimsy (and function) for the human and the home. This guy, named Norbert Münzer, happens to have a significant other that is a historical writer. He’s written 26 volumes on Ansbach alone. He is also owner of five bedecked old houses. One of his houses (from 1849) stands at Neustadt 11, and Norbert uses the ground floor as his store front and studio. Kreativ Werkstatt has four rooms; show room, office, work space, and additional showroom. Norbert displays (in refreshing rotation) beautiful and rare items from the properties, as well as those that he has created. The possibilities of what one can uncover are simply endless. How about a pin cushion that has been designed to resemble a cow’s utters? How about an authentic top hat?…maybe with long gloves and a lizard skin clutch to complete the look? No? Oh, you must need a new leather outfit for riding your Harley motorcycle. No problem. You’re friends with the woman for whom Norbert just created a custom tailored suit? I’m probably getting off track. You’re more interested in help with interior decorating; say a couple of pillows for you living room couch that somehow have a rococo flair and you’d like your bedroom redone. You’d like a Himmelbett, no doubt. (that’s German for canopy bed. It’s cute because Himmel means sky) Have I taken this too far again? You just want to pick up a gift for your sister. The Kreativ Wekstatt has the perfect necklace charm made from a polished apricot pit from the 1920’s. Unbelievable, isn’t it?
My blog posts aren’t supposed to be very long so I thought I’d be visiting Norbert for less than an hour. Wrong again. He bought us a coffee and I stayed two and a half hours. It’s a good thing Phil wasn’t home to wonder where dinner was. Talking about the shop and studio led to more interesting stories with less of a business nature. Norbert has been training as a tailor for 25 years, with much of his expertise being in theater costume. He describes Germany as a culture nation. It has 298 venues for theater while many of it’s neighboring countries have less than ten to boast about. His largest work as of late was the creation of costumes for the movie The Three Musketeers. Norbert dressed the King.
In addition to sewing he also creates art of a more personal nature. In this department of artistry Norbert focuses on collage. I would describe his work as provocative, if not aggressive, with hints of cheeky, and notes of grandeur. I was delighted when he asked me, flat out, what I thought of it. Maybe he assumed I would describe it as offensive or garish, but instead I applauded him for his open expression of his inner-self and his frustrations. This is a quality that I admire since my own work does not have the same reflections. Speaking together like this was, for me, refreshing. Talking to other artists (or neighbors, or fellow men) that do not see the world with the same eyes as yourself gives you new opportunities to grow, learn, and reevaluate your rights and wrongs. Norbert says that learning through curiosity is not simple, but the many facets are what light up your eyes and mind.
As is evident, I loved this man and our meeting. I think you should give him a visit yourself. Go to the shop, look around, maybe dream up a fantastic special order, and definitely indulge yourself. Art and antiques are good for the soul.