Nostalgia rules

Sat, Nov 17, 2012, 00:00

Fancy a copper bathtub? A non-drip teapot? You need Manufactum, writes DEREK SCALLY

Anyone who claims nostalgia is not what it used to be has clearly never heard of Manufactum. For a quarter century it has built a retail empire on the belief that “the good things in life still exist”. Visit one of its eight German stores – or its website – and you soon see why.

Wrought-iron frying pans, “never drip” teapots, badger-hair shaving brushes: Manufactum offers retail therapy to a world choked by “Made in China”. In Manufactum land telephones are made of Bakelite, not plastic, and children play with magic lanterns, not PlayStations.

Manufactum is an anti-Ikea. The Swedish giant makes much of designing its products at home and much less about manufacturing them in the cheapest corners of the globe. Manufactum’s buyers, by contrast, source artisanal manufacturers in every corner of Europe. It will, in the best retailing tradition, sell you the products you never knew you even wanted, from Viennese coffee pots to elk leather slippers with Tyrolean sheep wool lining. Who can argue with the intentions of a German retailer that has stocked fisherman’s sweaters and camogie cardigans from Galway’s Inis Meáin? Manufactum doesn’t mince its words about its prices or its philosophy. “They’re not cheap, we admit, but, as a long-term investment, well worth the outlay.”